Success story of a disrupting startup cemX

cemX is India’s first online platform with offline e-stores, where a customer can buy cement of different brands at the best competitive price. It is an e-commerce aggregator platform that efficiently redesigned the structure of an orthodox cement distribution channel in India thereby democratizing the purchasing power of the consumers namely the middle and lower class segments of Indian society. One can order directly through this platform or can visit the nearest e-store where e-dealers are always eager to assist.

Registered and certified by Startup India, cemX empowers the Government of India’s ‘Digital India’ initiative. Anybody (small businesses or individuals) can order directly through our online platform or can visit the nearest e-dealers (our offline e-stores) for assistance.

About the founders
Ashutosh Kumar – Jha is the founder & CEO and Sourav Chakraborty is the co-Founder & CBO of cemX. Both the Founders, Ashutosh and Sourav, graduated from the same Undergrad school in Kolkata and have known each other for the last 3 years. Their first interaction happened over Linkedin.

After completing a program in entrepreneurship in the US, when Ashutosh returned to India, his father candidly expressed to him the troubling issues with the building materials industry which he was a part of for the last 25 years. Ashutosh immediately recognised this as an opportunity and began ideation process and testing prototypes. Almost a month later since Ashutosh officially launched cemX in Bihar in June 2019 and while the beta-prototype testing of the idea was on, he met Sourav in Kolkata to examine a research paper on computer vision technology. During the conversation, Ashutosh shared his startup vision of cemX. Sourav was quick to realise the huge potential the idea promised in India’s digital transformation era and began brainstorming various business strategies to accelerate its performance and growth. Sourav’s aptitude and learning perfectly resonated with Ashutosh’s vision, and hence they collaborated becoming Co-Founders of cemX.

Ashutosh Kumar - Jha (Founder & CEO). & Sourav Chakraborty (Co-Founder & CBO)
Ashutosh Kumar – Jha (Founder & CEO). & Sourav Chakraborty (Co-Founder & CBO)

Ashutosh holds a B.Tech degree in IT and has attained an Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs in China and Harvard University, USA. During his undergrad days he ventured into setting up two distinct startups as well.

Sourav holds a B.Tech degree in ECE, and a MS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University. Post MS, he worked in an MNC in Milan, Italy for two years, and then resigned to pursue MSc in Management from Imperial College London, graduating in 2019.

We are publishing an interview with Mr. Ashutosh & Sourav:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
The present offline supply chain for various materials is fragmented, orthodox and unorganized. Therefore, by taking the procurement process of cement online and onto the Digital domain we aim to achieve parity and transparency in cement pricing thereby removing any arbitrage for offering economies of scale on cement pricing. Procuring cement online at the right price is helping the companies, individuals, and retailers to avoid cost overruns to a very large extent. Compared to large dealers and companies, smaller and local establishments are deprived of the cost-benefit on procurement of materials due to their small order-size or due to the presence of multiple sub-sector middlemen in the supply chain ladder. cemX envisioned to introduce the entire orthodox cement industry into a digital domain to democratize the price arbitrage for cement purchases below the regional dealerships. We break the barriers of geographic segregations and demographics by disrupting the human-middlemen supply chain.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
We ensure:

  • Hassles and bargain free cement deals disrupting the orthodox supply chain with demographic limitations
  • To help in cost-savings to contractors and to any end-users by allowing cement purchases at the best competitive price.
  • High Retail Sale Price of Cement
  • Lending based retailers face trouble in revenue recovery, sometimes leading to lengthy legal consequences.
  • Guaranteed revenue recovery in the e-commerce digital domain.
  • Price Uniformity maintained to avoid arbitrage negotiations
  • Near-Zero Investment cement store/retailer
  • Faster and reliable Delivery

We have propelled our company by organizing a conference in Sitamarhi on seventeenth June 2019, exclusively for our e-dealers, and one of them brought a first order of 50 bags of concrete right after the day we launched our startup with a check size of approximately INR 20,000. It was through a word-of-mouth recommendation.

Q.: What is your USP?

  1. By Bringing different brands under one umbrella in a digital easy-to-use setup.
  2. Order from anywhere at best competitive price to market.
  3. Provides a bargain free and transparent market (centralized price system).
  4. Price breakdown because of removal of intermediary channels.
  5. By introducing e-stores in the outskirts of the city, where people are digitally less aware.

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
 India is the 2nd largest (Multi-billion dollar) market in the world for cement consumption with a present output of 217.8 Million Tonnes per annum with an expected demand forecast at 550-600 Million Tonnes by 2025, that is approximately an increase of 150% over the next 5 years. In the usual offline domain, no single cement retailer can sell a wide variety of brands and it’s a heavily consolidated sector challenged with very strong new-entrant barriers without a huge capital investment. The B2B domain is starkly differentiated from the B2C segments, as discounts don’t really attract the former but a better price with cash discounts on the bags purchased as that is only available to large dealers/wholesalers of individual brands. It is usually a volume game as the rate to buy 1000 bags of cement is way more economical than buying 50 bags of cement.

Our substitutes i.e. other building material e-commerce platforms have primarily focussed on offering the entire gamut of building materials, while we are more product and material-specific in our approach. They act as a connecting platform for builders to ease the procurement process with existing dealers, while we aim to democratize the approach of the human supply chain with multiple middle-men to a more convenient one-stop solution between the wholesalers and the end consumer, therefore offering the best market rate for each brand of cement.

We have more than 50 happy customers and they fall in both the B2B and B2C domain.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
We are at negotiation stage with couple of investors.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?
We are certified and recognised by startup India and selected among top 6 con. tech. Startups of India in 2020. Recently we have launched cement purchasing option on easy EMI I partnership with one of India’s leading NBFC – ZestMoney.

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail. (e.g., What is the current turnover? From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment etc.)
Currently we stand out at more than INR 0.5 crore of revenue and by the end of this year we are anticipating that we will be touching the INR 1 crore mark.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
The fast and reliable delivery services maintaining the price transparency.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: We do not have any direct competitors in the market; however, we consider the registered cement vendors as our indirect competitors.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?
We want to see ourselves in at least 10 cities in India with full-fledged operation. In 14 months of operation, our revenue growth rate gets rose exponentially and currently stands over 4500 %  from our first month revenues.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Focus on execution do not invest much of your time in design thinking.

Thanks. All the best!

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