ConnectFirms (Brand of Tech Alchemists Infotel Private Limited) is a solo player in the market to help business to connect with their target audience, promote their business to next level; you can easily market your products to worldwide buyers. It was Launched: 12th Jan 2017. “ConnectFirms” Since its inception they are trying to understand global market from buyer and seller perspective, they clearly understood that there are only a few businesses that able to reach their goal, and others are not able to create any waves in the market. The reasons are, “Effective marketing strategies to reach out right target audience and marketing budget”. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Bhagirath Andapali.Co- Founder and CTO, ConnectFirms.
About the founders
We are three founders:
- Bhagirath Andapali – Co-founder, CTO
- Moger Mohan – Co-founder, Marketing Head
- Srikanth Kalyan – Co-founder, Technical Head.
Our story started when we had a terrible experience in generating sales for one of our trading company. We tried using a lot of business portals available online. The current options available in the market were merely business listing sites or business directories. These sites are a place to publish your profile and wait for your customer leads to approach you asking for your products/services. When you subscribe to these kind business listing services for leads, you will receive a lead list which is shared with multiple companies. Once you approach these companies offering your products/services, you will end up in no sales transactions as their requirement would have already been fulfilled (as the lead is shared with multiple companies) or because of trust issues.
This ultimately ends up with zero returns on your investment. In real world, B2B sales are more about building relationships than just selling. The reason is that most B2B deals are fairly large and have a lot of impact on the participating companies. You cannot generate sales for your B2B business by just subscribing to lead list on business listing sites. You have to build your own business community, promote your products/services to them every day, develop good trust, and finally you could end up in sales transactions.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: The biggest problem is B2B SMEs still operates in an “old fashioned world. Technology adoption is not that prevalent in B2B trading industry. Most of the SMEs in the market open a business account in to multiple business portals and never come back again. Sales happen only when a business interacts and promotes the products/services regularly to his target audience, so we are trying to keep customers engaged and be active in the application to build relationships and trust before they sell their brand. There is also lack of cross border Marketplace and transactional system where buyers can find best quality, more choices for lower cost.”
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: The total available market for B2B worldwide is 6.7 trillion. The B2B online market in India alone is 500 billion. This is one of the biggest serviceable market.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Through ConnectFirms we are trying to digitalize complete sales cycle of a business. We are a digital store front for SMEs globally. They can network and promote to target audiences using networking and promotional tools. Companies can sell and transact globally using international marketplace. They can also Create orders, generate invoices, and ship products across the globe using the connectfirms logistic partners.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: We are first in the Market with global networking and promotional system along with cross global marketplace and transactional system. Thus, providing everything a business needs to digitalize the business and generate revenues. The other competitors in the market are either classified websites or e-commerce sites dealing with only Indian SMEs.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Ans: We launched with an idea to create a social promotional platform where companies can network with each other and promote their products /services worldwide. Yes, we have signed up 5000 + businesses (SMEs)during our first 6 months of the launch.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: When we first launched the application as a promotional and networking platform, we had a good number of SMEs companies signed up to promote their products. But they were not ready to pay subscription for it. They want to use it as a free tool than premium one.
So, we realized in order for them to pay for us, we need to have that unique features which keeps them engaged and helps in generating sales. We then pivoted our business model, relaunched application, with the features which increases their sales and digitalize their complete business cycle.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We are using the premium model for the sellers to sell products on the Marketplace. Networking and Business /promotional tools are free to use.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: We were able to get our first customers using digital marketing strategies. Social Media promotions helped us to get our initial users.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We have bootstrapped the company so far. We are in process to raise investments to scale up the company.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it.?
Ans: Yes, we were able to sign up 10k businesses (SMEs) in first 10 months of our launch.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: We want to be one stop business solution for all the businesses across the globe. We want to provide everything a business needs (networking, promotions, business apps, marketplace, logistics, payment solutions) at one place. Thus, digitizing complete business cycle of any company.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in details:
Ans: Sure. We have following metrics since inception:
- Connection Requests: 80k +
- Companies Joined: 20K
- Promotional Posts: 7k
- Messages: 5K
- Product Images Uploaded: 12k+
- Hashtags: 1000+
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: As started in one of the previous answers. We are first in the Market with global networking and promotional system along with cross global marketplace and transactional system. Thus, providing everything for a business to digitalize and generate revenues. The other competitors in the market are either classified websites or e-commerce sites dealing with only Indian SMEs.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans: Sure. They are:
- Bhagirath Andapali – Co-founder, CTO.
- Moger Mohan – Co-founder, Marketing & Sales Head
- Srikanth Kalyan – Co-founder, Technical Head
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: There are few companies like Udaan, Moglix and IndiaMart in the market who merely work on the B2B E-commerce model. We are one stop solution for any business to digitalize their businesses and increase the revenue and sales growth than classified or e-commerce company.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: Our goal for next 6 months is to become revenue positive company, before we raise any funds from the investors.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: There is lot of buzz about start-ups and everyone wants to jump into it. It’s not an easy path. Be prepared to face challenges in the journey and don’t give up on things, if something is not working out. Persistence is the key in the entrepreneurial journey for the success.
Thanks Bhagirath. Best wishes!