How did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
Well I am not an IITian or from any of premier business school. But I started my entrepreneurial journey way back in the year 2005 when the .in domains first came into existence buying many of the premium names. I completed my studies in 2009 and had my first company Hash Web Services Pvt Ltd setup in that year itself. We used to handle a lot Web development activities through our channels in US, Australia, UK and South Africa. I had my first stint at Online Grocery in year 2010 much before start-ups started to grow in India, when I launched Quality Bazaar, in Noida. I had this name Just Home Delivery with me from that very time. Quality Bazaar was doing well but had to close it down because I was not able to find time for this and had been very busy with Technology and Domain business. I also spent few days in US working for one of my client whom I helped raise money for his Web development project. When back from there I had been working only with start-ups consulting them, helping them, working along with them across the domain. I finally decided to start Just Home Delivery in the Nov 2014, and opened our first store on 15th Feb 2015. I have had great support from my family members, who also have co invested along with me in this company. I would especially like to mention my wife Harshita who is also one of the founding members at Just Home Delivery taking care of the daily operations at our stores and handles the HR activities as well. We are not a big team, but everyone has their own responsibilities and has been working according to it.
What were the challenges before you while setting up Just Home Delivery?
The biggest challenge for me in setting up Just Home Delivery was to gather the pain points that the people here in India have in Grocery Shopping, I used to read a lot of reviews of the customers about the existing players in the market. I also used to order products from different providers to check the lack of services and what wrong were they doing in the process. This is how I designed my model. I also had many inputs from my previous stint 5 years back. I have been a strong believer of the fact that is “Grocery Shopping is completely different from any other e-commerce venture”. The second pain point is developing the Back end for all of this. The entire wholesale segment in India is 99 percent unorganised. Since you all know the margins in Grocery are minimal and you have to be at the best rates for customers to sell, so I regularly went on to research for the best available places for the inventory. I keep that doing very week on week. I am not building Just Home Delivery for investors, I am building this for the people, because if I know if I solve the problem of the people, rest will automatically follow. Our first store reached break even in just 5 months. So, model that I am following is not just a bubble, its rock solid.
What are the challenges for startup companies setting up shop in India?
There are lots of issues while setting up shops here in India. We faced a lot of problem while setting up them mainly due to Government regulations and red tape culture prevalent in India. We got most of our certification and legalities done before starting up but it’s tough. But I find the change now days. Things have improved a lot in last 9 months. Setting up shops to hold inventory has one more challenge that is “the cash“. Major chunk of investment goes in holing up the inventory itself. But things ease down as we move ahead in business. But holding up inventory is what actually pays when we start providing quality products at best prices. So it’s a challenge worth taking for people who are seriously interested in long term business. People who are not investing in the inventory will never be in long run.
Experts like Mohandas Pai are predicting the Startup bubble in India to burst. Do you agree? Why?
I agree to Mr Pai to a certain extent, because all those start-ups who were just bubbled up by “does not make sense investment” are sure to burst, but there are also many start-ups that have strong base, and they would continue to become strong as the time passes by. We have seen the entry of most of the Profound Businessmen of our country including stalwarts like Shri Ratan Tata into the start-up space, supporting a lot of start-ups already. For people like Mr Tata to show belief in the start-ups which have a strong base, good team, clear vision and a sustainable business model makes it very clear that Few of the bubbles would certainly burst but many of them would certainly sail through to become big.
How is your business model different from the existing ones?
Just Home Delivery is completely different from other online grocery players present in the market. We are not aggregators like Aaramshop and many others, we are not a market place like PepperTap or Grofers, we are purely Grocery Experts with our own inventory loaded stores, but we are also different from Big Basket as well. We have our stores that are accessible to our customers and do handle walking customers as well, but we are also not like local grocery shop selling online. We have our main focus on Hyper Local Grocery Delivery, keeping in mind all the concerns of Grocery Shopping Habits of India. We have a common phone number for customers who find it easier to order on phone, rather than on App or Website. We have out App that has features to order as all others app have but we also have two exclusive functionalities that no other App has, customers can just place their orders by sending us the image of the Shopping list that they have at a click of a button on their phone or customers can send us through inbuilt chat functionality in the App. We had the re order feature on our website much before any other App had it. We also have a feature for our customers to schedule their orders for future deliveries. For example, if we a customer wants 4 items delivered at his home at a particular time every alternate day, he can schedule that order with us and we deliver it to them without any reminders. I can just go on and go on about many other things that make us different from other players in the market. The best way to find is by using our service.
Who are your clients? How do you look at expanding?
We are a B2C service provider, and every one is a client for us because what we sell is something that is consumed by everyone. We cannot differentiate the customers according to the income group, living lifestyle, place of living or any other factory especially in our area of business of delivering Grocery. We have to be in the market so we try to expand to masses as much as possible, but most of our customers come from Middle and Higher income groups. Grocery Delivery is a highly price sensitive market, people decide whether they have to buy from a particular store or not only after they know the price for the same. We are looking to expand slowly for next six months where we would be increasing our depth in the market, rather than increasing the width of our service. We would try to capture the market where we are already present in the next few months, developing the technology for our back end and simultaneously improving the customer experience for our app and website and once done we would be opening up to new markets. We are going to launch our own brand food materials “JHD Sarvottam” as well later this month. Initially we will have around 100 SKU’s under this brand and hope to expand to 1000 in next one year. We have plans to sell this brand to other stores as well, not only confined to our own stores. The best part of this product would be the quality of the products at the best possible price for consumers. We are also looking to expand to other territories in India one a COFO model where in these stores would be owned by the company but would be managed at the micro level through the Franchisee. We have discussions going on this at least 4 to 5 places all over India. Hope to see something come out of that in the month of April and May. Not to mention, that we are also looking for investment options once we have all the back-end, technology, operations is place to expand to other territories at an exponential speed. Since this is an inventory loaded model, so the investment that we are looking for will have to be big enough to support it. Keeping our fingers crossed for all of the above expansion plans.
Your advice for younger startups?
Well I don’t consider myself as a mentor for start-ups but I would like to mention what I follow. These are the few words that I would just like to mention here for the start-ups
- Passionate about your Idea
- Focus only on achieving your dream
- Pain Point Solver for the Consumer
- Sustainability of your Business Model
Rest everything like Investment, Profitability, Valuation, Brand Value will automatically follow.