ShakeDeal is India’s largest B2B e-commerce marketplace which makes procurement easy in categories like Industrial goods & supplies, office & housekeeping supplies and corporate gifting. In a short span of three years, ShakeDeal has delivered on an aggressive growth strategy. It has registered 600% year-on-year growth and is catering to 4,000 small, medium and large enterprises on a monthly basis. With an inventory of over 40+ product categories and over 3 lakh+ products to choose from, ShakeDeal caters to various business verticals such as industrial supplies, office supplies, warehouse supplies, and corporate gifting.
About the founders:
Akshay Hegde – Co-founder and Managing Director (Business Operations) – A supply chain guy turned entrepreneur who’s passionate about building tech products with disruptive potential and high impact for the B2B domain. He graduated magna cum laude in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. As a consultant at Miebach Consulting (USA), he’s acquired demonstrated expertise in distribution, warehousing, logistics and network optimisation across projects in the apparel, industrial, and FMCG sectors. He’s also had a stint developing the family business when he arrived in India, which helped while laying the groundwork for Shakedeal. In his time off work, he likes listening to his many audio books and catching up on his favourite television series.
Akash Hegde – Co-founder and Managing Director (Product and Marketing) – A technology product enthusiast, passionate entrepreneur and obsessive problem solver. A graduate scholar from the prestigious National University of Singapore, he holds a First Class Honours degree in Electrical Engineering. He has rich product management experience building world class products for leading product companies in the health-tech and e-commmerce domains. He is now dedicating his energy towards solving exciting pain points in the B2B sector. In his time off work, he likes reading the Economic Times and dissecting other businesses and their business models.
Santhosh Reddy – Co-founder and Vice President (Technology) – Santhosh Reddy is a technology geek and an entrepreneur with rich experience in building exceptional technology products and solutions. As a design thinking enthusiast, with the love for everything related to technology, art and aesthetic design, Santhosh has more than 13 years of technology experience working for Mindtree and various Fortune 500 clients. As a consultant, he has helped many start-ups build their end-to-end products in the field of Finance, Video streaming, IoT, Entertainment & Ecommerce sectors. At ShakeDeal, he is currently building products and solutions to solve the various pain points in the B2B sector. In his off time, he likes to read and also conducts various sessions to mentor technology enthusiasts.
ShakeDeal was founded in Feb, 2016, though the ground work began almost 8 months before in June 2015. Akshay and Akash are twins whose family has been in the industrial goods industry for over 30 years. Santhosh first met Akshay at a co-founder networking event and they instantly hit it off. Soon all three came together, leveraging their complementary skill sets to work on ShakeDeal.
We are publishing an interview with Mr. Akshay:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans. Through their stints with their family business, they saw multiple pain points in the industry resonate together. Procurement issues like suboptimal pricing, delivery service levels, and streamlined supply posed production challenges. At the same time, while trying to grow the market for their goods, they saw an opportunity to bring down the cost of distribution while driving volumes, realizing higher margins, and improving the cash-cash cycles. As a result of this they came up with the idea of ShakeDeal – a B2B ecommerce platform that solves problems in procurement and distribution space.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Shakedeal operates a B2B e-commerce marketplace that uses a combination of drop-shipping and JIT fulfilment models while catering to indirect procurement spends of businesses across their requirements in MRO, Office Supplies, and Corporate Gifting verticals. Here we work with over 1500 vendors from across the country and charge the vendors a margin % when a successful sale is made.
We also have ShakeDeal Enteprise Portal which is for streamlining and simplifying the procure-to-pay functions of larger companies and where we offer negotiated custom pricing and catalogs, spend analytics, and assisted procurement among other features.
We have recently launched ShakeDeal B2B Sales Platform which is an eCommerce platform that brings brands and manufacturers closer to their distributors and customers. It’s a powerful, easy-to-use application for our B2B customers to place orders anytime, anywhere. With ShakeDeal B2B Sales Platform a brand’s B2B customers will have access to transparent tiered prices, discounts and promotions, an image-rich digital catalog, and inventory availability.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: We have a proprietary procurement and negotiation tool that ensures and guarantees savings while sourcing. Shakedeal is also client centric to the core. Though we use an asset (inventory) light model unlike other players in our space, we streamline our supply chain and develop partners to bring out the shortest turn-around times and best service levels, during fulfillment. Being asset light, we are also able to take an unbiased approach while evaluating and recommending industrial supplies to our clients. This makes us very transparent and adaptive to changes in market conditions such as stock availability, short supply, obsolete catalogs, etc.
Client’s like doing business with us when we have an objective approach to their supply and procurement concerns and this has enabled us to gather traction for our business.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
Ans: The use of technology in the B2B market is not as rampant as that in the B2C market. The traditional B2B transacting process is also very different from B2C in the sense that it is a more involved process and requires many more touch points and interactions before ultimately closing. Knowing this, we have ensured that we use a hybrid approach to sales. We leverage technology to bring in efficiencies and improve the solutions we offer our clients. Behavioral challenges to adoption of technology has been a major challenge to scale. However, with time and an assisted approach we have been able to bring digital transformation to our client’s procurement processes.
ShakeDeal’s B2B products have solutions for the large and medium enterprises across industrial sectors as well as for brand to reseller markets. Shakedeal has a solution-driven approach while acquiring customers in any given market. By focusing on what the customers’ pain-points are, we are able to provide unique, case-wise value ads that differentiate us when it comes to traditional B2B acquisition strategies.
We currently cater to almost 4000 small, medium and large enterprises on a monthly basis. Our aim is to cater to 10,000 such businesses by the end of the year and we are well-poised to achieve that.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: ShakeDeal was acquired by US based private equity firm Vora Ventures in 2018. They also raised their first big institutional funding from Vora Ventures. Vora Ventures is a Cincinnati based Private Equity Firm. Founded by hi-tech industry veteran Mahendra Vora, the group portfolio consists of companies in the software, services and infrastructure solutions space. Vora Ventures provides resources, advice, and state-of-the-art infrastructure to its portfolio companies. Partnering with Vora Ventures has been a strategic decision that is helping us fast-track our goals and shared vision.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: As a young entrepreneur, one often makes hiring mistakes that can prove costly to the company. With the ambition to grow quickly, we initially made some hiring mistakes. I have learnt that skills are cheap and passion and attitude are more valuable. Hiring the wrong person can hurt the moral of the team and can ultimately bring down performance. It’s better to be absolutely sure about a candidate before hiring them. Don’t compromise on your values in order to fill up a position.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: ShakeDeal charges 10-15% commission/margin for enabling transactions between buyers and sellers on its procurement marketplace. For the enterprise portal, we are offering a freemium model. Once clients start seeing the tremendous benefits of using our offering, we are able to start charging them for use of the portal.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Some of our earliest customers have found us organically because they were searching for products that we sell. A lot of the initial business has come from catering to organic inbound leads that were looking for products that were being sold on the marketplace.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: We had received a provisional patent for our proprietary sourcing and negotiation algorithm and were also conferred with the Hot 100 technology start up award in 2017.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: ShakeDeal stands for everything fundamental to B2B commerce. The founders always believed that the B2B market was inherently different from the B2C market and since they believed that hand shakes make business deals happen they decided to christen the startup ShakeDeal. As discussed earlier, we understand that the B2B ecosystem has pain points in procurement, production, sales, distribution, financing, etc. We at ShakeDeal are systematically trying to address each of these problems through our existing product offerings and future product roadmap.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in details:
Ans: Not at the liberty to share exact revenue numbers at this point. However, Shakedeal is growing at a phenomenal pace and we’ve just clocked around 600 % year-on-year growth. We are bullish about this market and foresee a similar growth in the coming years. We currently cater to almost 4000 small, medium and large enterprises on a monthly basis. Our aim is to cater to 10,000 such businesses by the end of the year and we are well-poised to achieve that.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: While technology is a great enabler and we leverage all the latest technologies to improve our offerings at ShakeDeal, the uniqueness about our company is in our approach. We don’t sell products, we offer solutions. We use a case study based approach which often gives us tremendous insights into our clients. We are able to discover previously latent pain points and solve for those problems through our offerings. This is one of the key reasons why ShakeDeal is the preferred procurement partner for so many fortune 500 companies.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans: We have recently made a senior level hire from Flipkart in our quest to expand our business across industry sectors. Vinod Murthy has joined us as Vice President and he is looking at building new business verticals besides growing the existing ones.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Moglix and Industrybuying seem to be the closest competitors. Though, ShakeDeal has a lot more product offerings that differentiates it with a holistic b2b approach.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: In the coming year, Shakedeal has internally aligned itself to achieve a 25% market-share in our space. This would mean bringing in a lot more talent and maturing a lot of our offerings from where they are at this moment. Shakedeal has a holistic approach to solving B2B related pain-points and we have piloted multiple technology offerings which we are looking to double-down on this year.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Don’t rush to raise capital. It is important to have product market fit before raising institutional capital. It places you at a significant advantage when you know your customer completely first and then you become well capitalized. This way you are able to deploy that capital more effectively. The last thing you want to do is throw money at problems you are struggling with.
Thanks Akshay. Best wishes!