Omnikart Co-Founder On Building An Industrial Supplies Megastore In India
Though Faisal Ansari's family has a medical background, he had realised that engineering was something he was naturally good at. Pursuing his dream, he got a degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2014. Like hundreds of his batchmates, Faisal got benefitted from the strong network of alumni at IIT-B. After graduation, he started working for Housing.com, which felt like another IIT-B hostel outside the campus. During his time there (which was about an year), Faisal got together with his batchmate and friend Mandar Zope to work on many business models and Omnikart happened to be one of them.
Omnikart is an online platform operating on the B2B model that hopes to become a one-stop destination for all sorts of industrial supplies such as Power tools, Hand tools, Office supplies and even Safety Gear. This young organisation founded by Faisal Ansari and Mandar Zope in 2014, hopes to become India’s most trusted sourcing platform in coming era of “Make in India”. Manufacturers, Distributors and Suppliers can use Omnikart to reach out to customers and create awareness about their products, whereas Buyers can find the some of the best procurement service providers on the portal.
The company recently received a seed fund of $100,000 from Investors - Sumit Gandhi and Manish Gandhi and going strong in their second year of operation.
We got the action-man Faisal Ansari to feature in an exclusive interview with us to talk about his life as an entrepreneur, the team at Omnikart, the challenges they've faced and the path ahead. Read on!
Faisal Ansari, Co-Founder - Omnikart
CE: What was your motivation to start such a service?
Faisal: If you look at the B2C e-commerce industry it’s very much mature in India but when it comes to B2B industrial sector its in nascent stage, people are still dealing in conventional trading. Before starting we did a complete research on the industrial sourcing activities and found that B2B segment is very much fragmented in the country. There are lots of problem such as lack of equipment availability in small towns, less transparency, poor & costly logistics services, among others. We also looked into other countries and found that B2B e-commerce model is very much successful in developed markets like US and Europe. After all these research we were convinced that there will be challenges in initial days but there are huge opportunities. Thus we jumped into this.
CE: What are additional services Omnikart offers to their customers apart from selling Industrial goods online?
Faisal: Apart from just selling the products we provide technical assistance to our customers. When any buyer is stuck between his choices of products they can call us and our technical experts can suggest them products that suits his/her requirements.
CE: What is the typical day in Omnikart office like?
Faisal: Everyone in our team knows their responsibility and thrilled about the vision of the company. We don’t have any fixed KRA’s but everyone is very much motivated to work on similar goals as per their given parameters. Every single order puts smile on our face and every single satisfied customer makes us go on a party mode.
The Omnikart Team
We are all part of a family so working is never exhausting for any of us. We work! We fight! We celebrate! We argue! We challenge! To sum it up we all are on a roller coaster ride.
CE: How many orders have you processed so far?
Faisal: We have processed over 1000 orders so far and growing at the rate of 180-250% since last 2 months. We are targeting to deliver 5000 orders in a month by this year end.
CE: Whom do you consider your immediate competitors in B2B domain? What efforts do you take in maintaining edge over them?
Faisal: There are few other b2b e-commerce companies such as tolexo.com, industrybuying.com, alibaba.com and few other emerging players, but we are working on a model that will set us apart from our competitors. If you see all these ecommerce players they, including us, are working on standard products that can be used in all types of industries. These standard products constitute small part of over all companies budget and the rest goes to heavy machinery, application based products and customized goods, we are working on a model where we will help companies sell and procure there products as well.
We aim to emerge as India’s most trusted sourcing platform in coming era of “Make in India”.
CE: We've read about Omnikart received $100,000 in seed funding from Sumit Gandhi and Manish Gandhi. What are the team's efforts currently focused on? Where do you see the company two years from now?
Faisal: That’s true. We have a very prominent investor who has huge experience in the sector and apart form money their knowledge and guidance is also helping us understand the business better. Currently we are focusing majorly on the product that includes enhancing the user experience on the web, increasing the number of goods and product categories, and expanding our footprint in many geographies. We are also in advance talk with few manufacturing related startups to improve our visibility among our potential business partners.
CE: What do you guys do for maintaining repeat visits on your website from your clients? How do you plan to expand your reach to your target customer base?
Faisal: Customer acquisition is one of the focus areas for us. We travel that extra mile to make sure our customer gets the right product at the best price without any hassles. At times we have delivered products in couple of hours just because our customers had some break down and needed the product immediately.
Once we even delivered a product at 2 am at IIT Bombay hostel when a student needed the product for his lab work and he was not able to find it in the market at the right price. He inquired with us and we delivered it to him within six hours.
One of the problems that the companies are facing is that there are many grey products in the market; transparency during the purchase is also at stack. To increase our reach we are meeting top managements of several organizations and explaining that we have fixed price listed which is eliminating under-the-table system. Our products are from authorized distributers/suppliers so one can trust and believe in the authenticity as well. By having only authorised distributor on board we also ensure after-sales-service, which is very important in this industry.
CE: How big is Omnikart team at the moment? How do you go about hiring new fellas to Omnikart?
Faisal: We are right mix of people from different backgrounds such as technology, logistics, manufacturing, marketing, business development etc. We are in a hiring mode and will be recruiting guys in couple of months for mainly technology, business development and sales activities.
CE: Omnikart is currently located in Mumbai and supplying goods all over india. Are there any plans of expansion in other cities and abroad?
Faisal: If you look at the report by Walmart, India’s B2B e-commerce market opportunity is currently valued at $300 billion, which is expected to expand to $700 billion by 2020. This clearly indicates the kinds of opportunity India holds. At the moment we are in a very early stage and would like to solve B2B buying and selling experience within country. We are in very early stage to comment anything about going overseas.
CE: What is the most challenging part of running this startup? Which parts do you enjoy the most and hate the most?
Faisal: As said earlier B2B e-commerce is in very nascent stage in India so to convince distributor and buyers to conduct business online is daunting task. They have been doing business in conventional manner and think that only cloth, electronics items; books can be sold online not industrial equipment. But as they say, “Where there is challenge, solution of that problem is your business opportunity” so these challenges are actually an untapped enormous business opportunities. Dealing with these distributors, educating them, telling them the importance of online business and eventually helping them in their business is what makes us happy.
Strongly encourage the youth to consider entrepreneurship or be part of an entrepreneurial venture at least once in your career. The venture may or may not succeed but you will learn several valuable lessons through that journey.Vijay PasupulatiGreyCampus
As a startup in its initial years, the most difficult part is to build the trust as no one takes you seriously neither users nor potential employees or investors, people do see the upside but not willing to take risks...Salil AgrawalQueryHome