Biomall is a B2B online e-commerce marketplace dedicated to laboratory, life science and diagnostic products. It is India’s first ecommerce website which offers researchers and lab users’ laboratory products directly online using a secured payment gateway. It was established in the year 2016 by Dr. S. Jhaveri, PhD Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Cornell University, USA.
Majority of scientific laboratories in India still follow the traditional system of inviting multiple quotations, followed by indenting, generation of purchase orders and payment to suppliers 30-90 days after delivery. A single purchase-sale cycle thus lasts for months. Even the rate contract system, wherein a vendor is chosen for a particular brand at the start of the financial year, is inefficient as the institute has to rely on a single vendor who might not have stocks readily available and cannot purchase from any other vendor who might have stocks for the required product. Typically a lab buys products from multiple brands so again they need to contact multiple vendors and a lot of time is invested in procuring day-to-day lab supplies. So while a lab in India would take months just to get their supplies; elsewhere laboratories in countries with more advanced purchasing systems would have already completed their project by the time supplies reach the scientists bench in India! This is a critical factor that needs to be addressed immediately else India will further lag behind in terms of innovations. Also, inefficiencies in systems lead to increased costs and so scientists spend not only more time but also more money to purchase lab products!
Through its online portal, Biomall.in is trying to bring a big change in this system, by incorporating easy and convenient online purchase system as against traditional credit based purchases. The advantage is that scientists can search, compare and buy multiple products from different brands in a single order with a “single click” directly from the suppliers. The user does not require to get multiple quotations since all price details are given online along with real-time product availability thereby saving valuable time.
Scientists have a limited research budget for a project and need to manage their purchases within the available funds. On Biomall, the suppliers have provided good discounts on many products including chemicals, regular lab consumables, chromatography columns, etc. This has been possible by:
- Connecting scientists directly with the manufacturers/authorized distributors
- Elimination of costly field sales representatives
- Timely payment to the suppliers and
- Low marketing costs.
All these factors in combination have brought down the product cost and this saving has been passed on to the researchers. Thus, by procuring products from Biomall not only valuable time is saved but the researchers also save money thereby making good use of the funds available for R&D.
Dr. S. Jhaveri is a PhD graduate and a successful entrepreneur based in Mumbai. He has done his Ph.D in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in the year 2007 and also done his bachelors in Chemical Technology specializing in Chemistry of Dyes and Intermediates from ICT, Mumbai (formerly UDCT). He has been awarded Dr. Sundar Aggarwal award for outstanding Indian Students entering Ph.D. program in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University.
In the year 2012 he started his distribution business for laboratory products under the company Chargen Life Sciences LLP. During the initial 3 years of distribution business, he studied the lab industry market deeply and analyzed the problems faced by laboratories. Based on this analysis and the growing consumer inclination towards e-Commerce, he found an online platform connecting buyers and sellers of lab products to be a perfect solution to tackle the current problems. Thus, in mid-2016, he launched India’s first online marketplace for laboratory products – Biomall.in.
Earlier he worked as an Independent consultant with Universal Consulting, where he carried out market research on impact of new technologies in the knee implant market in India, assessing market feasibility for a Point-of-Care Testing Device in India and UAE. He was a visiting student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.
He has trained mentored and supervised several students. He also lectured in class, graded exams, and conducted office hours for freshman chemistry students in USA. Dr. S Jhaveri believes that passion, hardwork, self-belief and being positive are key mantras to be a successful entrepreneur. We are publishing an interview with him:
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: We have developed a customized online portal – www.biomall.in to buy and sell laboratory products worldwide. It hosts 100,000+ products from 150+ brands across 100+ categories – Lab Chemicals, Microbiology, Diagnostics, Chromatography, Genomics, Proteomics, Lab Equipments, Lab Consumables. Laboratory Professionals from life science / biotech companies, pharma companies, academics, hospitals can buy any product required in their laboratories from Biomall.in. We offer digital marketing services to promote the products of Indian manufacturers to laboratories involved in research, testing and diagnostics. In house technical team from science and IT background work together to strategize and execute digital promotion via e-commerce, email, social media, blog, whatsapp and other online media. We also offer services to setup labs from the basics – designing, furnishing and procurement of all kinds of equipments and reagents required in a lab.
When it was launched, we had a different sales model wherein buyers could submit enquiries and get online quotation. We developed the website content as per SEO, so as to get customers via google search. Our first online customer came from Pune, Maharashtra through google search and has been a regular customer till date. Majority of our customers are sourced organically from google even today.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: The biggest USP is that we are an online platform dedicated only to laboratory, life science and diagnostic products. This separates us from several other marketplaces which sell all kind of products. We give a target customer base to all the sellers who can then use this platform as a good marketing tool as it caters specifically to the scientists, pathologists, medical, pharma & QC professionals.
Also, Biomall acts as a single platform to buy multiple types of lab products from multiple brands in a single order.
It provides the option to buy lab products directly online just by selecting quantity, add to cart and place order by making online payment. Buyers can request for a bulk discount if more than 10 packs are needed. Buyers can also post enquiry for products not found on the portal. This enquiry then gets shared to all registered sellers on the portal who can send an online quote to the buyers as per product availability.
The platform provides a seamless experience to the sellers for managing all orders, enquiries, stock and ongoing offers through their dashboard.
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?
Ans: We thought that considering the response received to online shopping sites like amazon, flipkart, snapdeal, myntra, etc., users in India shall be happy to know about Biomall and buy laboratory products online. Although, most of the scientists like the concept of Biomall, they get constrained by the purchase system followed in their institutes or companies. Nevertheless, we have received many customers from top research institutes like IITs, IISERs, CSIR institutes who prefer to buy chemicals, consumables and other products from our website. Also, many small companies have now begun to order their lab supplies online on Biomall.
An ideal customer for our website would be a scientist who is looking for any lab product, finds it online, compares among different brands, and buy the best suitable. We wish to be the ideal platform for all scientists by offering a complete portfolio of lab products, with detailed information provided on the website and the best delivery service so that they can get their product/s in a hassle free manner.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: Failures in the past have been about conceptualizing big projects before understanding ground reality
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We offer different membership plans for suppliers to promote and sell their products on our portal. A free plan is also available to sell stock under clearance sale. Paid membership is available based on the services required by sellers. Prices are decided based on the expense incurred in terms of website maintenance, customer service and marketing service.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Biomall is bootstrapped company and all the investments have come from promoters family business and distribution business of Chargen Life Sciences. However, now we are looking for investors to scale up the business.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: We are extremely proud that we have managed to export Indian manufactured products to 35+ Countries via our platform and thus contributing to the Make in India initiative launched by the Government.
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.)
Ans: The website hosts 100,000+ lab products from 150+ brands across 100+ categories of laboratory, life science and diagnostic products. We have grown from as low as 50 visitors a day to 500 visitors a day. About 5000+ buyers and 500+ sellers are registered with us. Since 2016, we have served 300+ Indian cities and exported to 35+ countries including Middle East, Africa, Europe, USA, South America and Asian countries
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Through our online startup, we are trying to bring in the concept of digitalization in the laboratory industry, and also promoting the ‘Make in India’ campaign started by the GOI. Due to the long sales cycle Indian scientists suffer greatly as they do not get products on time. Biomall’s big vision is to reduce the entire sale purchase cycle of lab products so that our scientists can be competitive in the global market when it comes to publishing research at a faster pace. Second, we also want to promote Indian made laboratory products worldwide. India produces good quality lab products but we lack in marketing these products. Biomall aims to change that by producing an excellent marketing platform and making Indian made lab products available to laboratories worldwide.
Also, through Biomall, we have promoted many lesser known Indian manufacturers of laboratory equipment to the global market. Many countries including Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe and America have shown interest in buying lab products from India. They find Biomall as one stop solution to get all of their laboratory needs from India, at good price and quality.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: A few of its indirect competitors in India include B2B online portals like Indiamart, trade India which are widely used by sellers to generate leads. Other competitors include B2B e-commerce platforms like Industry buying & Amazon business who provide an online platform for buying all sort of industrial supplies. These sites are however not focused on the lab industry and do not have a wide range of products that Biomall offers. In India Biomall stands as the only comprehensive platform to target the lab professionals through its customized online eCommerce business model and acts as one point of contact for international buyers interested to source their supplies from India.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: We continue to expand our product portfolio and we learn a great deal from the customers to understand the products in demand and then lookout for quality suppliers for the same. We are very selective on the suppliers that come on-board and only when they pass our internal quality criteria do we invite them to be part of our platform. Our major focus in future is to increase the reach of Biomall in India and worldwide and provide a vast range of products that the scientists can purchase directly from the suppliers via our platform.
In the next 6 months, we plan to invest in logistics and marketing to increase our reach across different cities in India and outside India. To achieve our goals, we are looking for investors interested to fund a growing B2B online startup.
Thanks Dr. Jhaveri. All the best!