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In a country that still hasn’t shaken off the conservative mentality of having a government job, Soptle is the name of a revolutionary breakthrough made by a nineteen-year-old boy, Pravas Chandragiri. Probably because the business in his blood cannot be avoided, at the age of 12 the boy took his first steps in business by managing his uncle’s kirana shop in Balasore (Odisha).
From there, he pretty much experienced the difficulties and inefficiencies of a kirana store, such as limited assortment, low margin, zero bargaining power, no growth potential beyond a threshold, etc. .
At the age of 17, he began his entrepreneurial journey with a company that focused primarily on connecting regional manufacturers to retailers. He was the youngest CEO of this networking platform known as RFT (Rural Future Technology) where he connected 1200 kirana stores in 9 districts of Odisha and successfully introduced more than 20 regional brands to them Indian. It was a profitable business with an annual turnover of INR 60 lakhs. Soon, he realized the potential of this business to evolve in a technology asset-driven manner. It was his eureka moment and the idea Soptle conceived.
In a nutshell, the story of Pravas starts from running a retail store at the age of 12 to empowering 50,000 retailers at the age of 20.
Obviously, it is really curious to know the creative path of Soptle, because the first stone is young and energetic. In a traditional supply chain, there are so many consumer components present between the manufacturer and the retailers such as C&F, General C&F, Superstockist, Stockist, distributors, wholesalers, and then come the retailers.
“At Soptle, we have identified some of these consumer components as unnecessary. They are not even necessary for goods movements. We believe that C&F, General C&F,
Superstockist, Stockist as unnecessary consuming components. So we eliminated those unorganized and inefficient consumer components from the traditional supply chain and only used the necessary consumer components,” the founder recalls of the company’s early locations and way of operating.
Chandragiri added, “We believe that last mile components (distributors and wholesalers) are necessary consumer components. These stakeholders are really important for general business transactions. So we used/enabled them in the FMCG supply chain to create a high growth and profitable business. .”
The young mastermind is on a mission to improve the lives of over 8,000,000 general trade retailers and around 5,000 manufacturers in India.
“We enable FMCG manufacturers to increase their revenue by giving them access to nationwide distribution at zero fixed cost, through our links between sales and distribution channels and the market that serves them. help to: expand their sales geographically, improve their capacity utilization, grow their business and improve their net margins by 3 to 4 times,” said Pravas Chandragiri, Founder and CEO of Soptle.
He also added that currently, the company’s distribution network consists of more than 50,000 retailers and distributors, and it has increased 2-3 times month by month steadily.
Where there is innovation, there will be investment. The same logic also applies to the case of Soptle. While giving an overview of the company’s investment cycles, the CEO said, “In September, we closed the first tranche of the Angel cycle. We extended this cycle due to strong demand. In addition, we are fully subscribed to our pre-seed round and will wrap it up in the next quarter.”
According to market estimates, India accounts for 11.69% of the total global FMCG distribution; it contributes 18% of India’s GDP; Yet, of the 12 million Kirana store owners in India, average sales are just $700 a month. Of these 12 million kirana stores across the country, 7-8 million retail stores remain underserved by the majority of mainstream brands due to the high cost structure of traditional distribution networks.
Amid all of this, there are immense challenges and competition in this ecosystem. A business prodigy will always be one who faces enormous challenges. Undoubtedly, Chandragiri too. In his words, “We have seen various transformations in the B2B retail segments over the past 20 years, but no one has cracked the code of the B2B market and one fundamental problem still remains unsolved: geographic expansion to zero fixed cost. And we believe that a manufacturer-centric approach is the next step in the evolution of B2B marketplaces and we will monetize our first mover advantage.”
“After identifying them as a necessary consumer item, we changed our approach to solving this problem by using technology and partnering with them on different levels,” the founder also told the solution.
We live in an ever-changing society where social media trends come and go, consumer trends come and go and what works today probably won’t work tomorrow and hence the importance of planning for the future.
It was evident that Pravas Chandragiri was elated as he shared the company’s action plan. He said, “We plan to scale about 100 times over the next year, strengthen our technology teams and grow our distribution network 15-20 times. Post that the next frontier is going global with our technology and our playbook in place by 2024.”
For more cutting-edge business innovations to come, the young entrepreneur advised his followers that, “If you’re thinking of a startup, then Start Up Today!”
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