International trade is a mammoth issue and it is inadequate to solve part of the issue. Connect2India was launched in 2016 to serve the unmet requirements of small and medium-sized enterprises. Connect2India offers a full end-to-end solution designed solely for Indian SMEs to develop and encourage their business rather than solving the piece of the puzzle.

Connect2India Logo

This startup adds value from the initiation level to the execution level to the clients and their clients really appreciate this end-2-end strategy where they get everything under one roof. It offers a holistic perspective for business counterparts (suppliers and buyers), verified businesses, and leads to risk mitigation. Local presence, expert resources and predictive analysis make the platform easy to use.

About the founder
Pawan Gupta is the Founder and CEO of Connect2India, and an entrepreneur with expertise in global trade and technology. He has been involved in global trade and leading-edge technologies for more than a decade and has developed and grown businesses from scratch across industry verticals through entrepreneurial instinct, continuous innovation and hands-on leadership.

Pawan led his global consulting company to become IBM and SUN Advanced Business Partner and signed-up reputed customers worldwide. The venture successfully facilitated multi-million-dollar recurring trade for and between entities across the world.

Prior to his current venture, Pawan held the position of Group CTO in one of the largest privately held enterprise software companies in the world. He provided global technology leadership for multiple enterprise software companies and was engaged in envisioning and leading the technology vision & strategy. Prior to that, Pawan led enterprise products for Fortune 500 companies such as Siemens, IBM, HCL Hewlett Packard etc. in varied domains.

With degree from London Business School, Pawan has enjoyed solving core business problems – be it at Fortune 500 companies or in his own entrepreneurial ventures.

Pawan Gupta - Founder & CEO, Connect2India
Pawan Gupta – Founder & CEO, Connect2India

We are publishing an interview with Mr. Pawan:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans:
MSME sector is the backbone of Indian economy and for India to become a USD 5 Trillion economy, 65 Million SMEs need to be empowered and enabled to expand globally.

Though India is the world’s fastest growing economy, its contribution in global trade is just around USD 0.76 Trillion/year. In spite of the Government’s strong focus on SMEs, less than 1% of 65 Million Indian SMEs enter overseas markets because of challenges and complexities associated. This percentage of SMEs exporting globally in developed countries is 20% to 25%.

SME needs an end-to-end solution and a partner that would go till the last mile and help them export/import globally. Connect2India is MSMEs last mile partner in global trade.

Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans:
The Government aims to bolster India’s march towards becoming a USD 5 Trillion economy and boost Indian global trade to USD 2 Trillion in next few years. However, achieving such high growth will require exceptional structural changes in all sectors of the economy, specially the SME sector which is the backbone and lifeline of our economy. In the current economic slowdown forecasts, it is becoming imperative for MSMEs to diversify their offerings into multiple global trade markets for sustainability, growth and business traction.

The SMEs are really important to any country’s economy but are even more critical for developing countries like India. Over the past few decades, this sector, comprising of manufacturing, agro industry, service industry, apparels & textile, gems & jewellery, food processing, metal and alloys, packaging, polymer & chemicals, etc. have emerged as the most vibrant and dynamic engine of Indian economic growth. Apart from boosting the local economies, this sector has a tremendous scope to contribute a significant margin to the country’s GDP.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans:
Connect2India came up with a holistic approach to address the actual concerns of Indian SMEs by providing them with an integrated global trade platform, enabling and empowering them for end-to-end export/import.

Whether an SME is just getting started with export/import business, or needs to know the market to target for export/import, or wants to gain access to verified and trusted business partners, or wants to arrange trade finance or trade logistics or arrange / execute export/import orders with access to our worldwide trade network – Connect2India does it all under one roof.

We are a one stop source to enable and empower SMEs for end-to-end export/import:

  • Analyzing Target Market – We provide complete trade analysis and trade intelligence to understand the market in a better way. Our unique data science simplifies everything by providing the key trade insights and analytics, making it easier for SMEs to make informed data-driven decisions.
  • Finding Genuine Trade Counterparts – We help gain access to global importers/exporters with complete holistic view, trade history, sentiment analysis, find prospective customers, get buyers/importers due diligence done, get real-time global Leads notification and much more to enable safe and easy trade.
  • Preparing & Arranging Export/Import Orders – We facilitate arranging of the export/import orders for SMEs with our platform, strong worldwide network and team of experts keeping your business requirements as our topmost priority.
  • Trade Finance – Our strong aggregator network of credit lending partners enables SMEs to succeed and grow beyond boundaries. We use digital technology to prioritize ease of doing things and minimum time investment for increasing efficiency and bringing sustainability for our trade partners.
  • Facilitating Export/Import Orders Execution – With our network driven model enabled using technology; we handle all the aspects of supporting the processing and successfully executing an export/import order with our network of global trade service providers.

Once an SME plugs-in into the platform, they get access to trade intelligence, trade insights, trade resources, trade tools and utilities, trade finance, trade service providers, trade counterparts etc.

Q.: What is your USP?
Ans:
Connect2India is India’s first-of-its kind technology-driven integrated global trade solutions platform with a focus on overall trade execution to MSMEs making global trade safe, easy and smart for end-to-end import/ export.

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:
Initially, Connect2India was only an online platform to facilitate global buyer seller collaborations but very early in operations, we realized that the need of MSME sector is huge for an end-to-end solutions model. MSMEs, especially in tier II and tier III cities of India, seek last mile handholding for global trade. Considering that this sector is the backbone of the economy, Connect2India was expanded to a managed marketplace with end-to-end solutions.

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:
Connect2India platform generates useful insights, analytics and trade intelligence to mitigate trade risks via knowledge and stats while our teams work to help businesses grow internationally by empowering them with the necessary knowledge, tools, intelligence & support and desired products. The end-to-end solutions packages empowers a business to use Connect2India assets and trade global in a way that is most efficient yet affordable and safe. Connect2India’s revenue model operates on a customer onboarding fee followed by a transaction commission on the orders for customers.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans:
The market opportunity was highly untapped when Connect2India platform was set-up. Its organic impression manifolded in no time and we onboarded number of customers seeking global market trade solutions at the same time. Today, our customer database is growing at a steady pace with solutions.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it.?
Ans:
Connect2India has lot of encouraging success stories of its customers across the country but one such story is of an MSME based in remote South India. The company has a manufacturing unit producing cutlery including dinner ware, spoons, bowls, serving trays – all made from Areca palm leaves – all of which are 100 per cent biodegradable. the global eco-friendly dinnerware demand, which according to estimates stands at USD 32 billion and is growing 5 percent annually. Through Connect2India, that MSME company is today exporting eco-friendly cookware to countries including Canada and Africa. We believe in bringing a positive social change alongside meeting our business goals. Through Connect2India, we are meeting multiple goals of empowering the company, empowering the MSME sector and empowering the nation.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans:
We are increasing our size of the pie in global trade and with that; more SMEs will be vying for more global opportunities. We just need to make them globally aware, globally visible and globally competitive. Connect2India’s integrated platform received 77.5 Million Google Organic Impressions from across the world in the second quarter of 2019, achieving a 30% growth over last quarter.

According to WTO, the World Export of WTO Member countries itself was USD 23 Trillion last year and is expected to grow 4 to 5% year on year. This means more demand in the global markets, which eventually means, more opportunities for SMEs to sell their product and take advantage of the vacuum between current supply and foreseen world demand.

Our platform received 77.5 Million Google Organic Impressions from across the world in last 3 months, achieving a 30% growth over last quarter. We continue to make SMEs globally aware and globally visible through our platform!

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
Ans:
Connect2India has witnessed almost 500% growth since its exception with 1,10,000 registered members on the platform.

Connect2India platform stats at a glance:

  • 2.5 Billion+ Global Trade Stats
  • 28 Million+ Google Organic Impressions / Month
  • 17 Million+ Google Indexed & in-Process Pages
  • 2 Million+ Genuine Trade Counterparts

Our platform received 77.5 Million Google Organic Impressions from across the world in last 3 months, achieving a 30% growth over last quarter. We continue to make SMEs globally aware and globally visible through our platform!

Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans:
Connect2India is the first and only platform that bridges the knowledge gap and facilitates end-to-end export/import for SMEs, end-to-end export solutions and access to worldwide trade network.

The company’s single most important focus since the start has been on providing ‘value’; and that is what everyone at Connect2India strives towards delivering. Connect2India has a strong business fundamental to provide real tangible ‘value’ to their customers and enable extremely sophisticated trade functionality that is easy to use.

We are currently helping customers across India for multiple industries such as Agro commodities, Apparels & Textile, Handicrafts, FMCG, Agro Equipments, Chemicals & Polymers, Metal & Alloys etc.

Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skillsets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans:
Key Leadership Team of Connect2India:

  1. Ranjan Malakar, Chief Technology Officer: brings extensive experience and expertise in all areas of engineering and product development, having built high-performing and highly scalable products. Ranjan has 9 years of experience in product development and holds a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from NIT, Kurukshetra.
  2. Kamal Kumar Sharma, Director – Business Operations: After completing Bachelor’s degree from London, Kamal worked with several companies across UK and India, interacting with people from varied backgrounds and cultures.
  3. Zacharia Abraham, Director Trade: Zacharia comes with a strong international trade background with 9+ years of hands-on industry experience and 7+ years of global experience trading hard, soft, and physical commodities in Southeast Asia, UAE, Russia, Africa, China, and South America.
  4. Daksh Gupta, Director – International Trade: Daksh is a highly dynamic and versatile sales leader with international business and finance background. He successfully built sales strategy for rural areas to promote finance and international trade services.
  5. Priya Goyal, Director – User Interface As a founder member and part of UI and UX leadership team at Connect2India, Priya is making global trade easy and accessible to SMEs around the world, building smart, simple and sustainable product with seamless user interaction to generate clear value for users.
  6. Atul Jain, Director – Customer Success Atul leads business operations and customer Success at Connect2India and is responsible for ensuring that we make our customers extremely happy with our deliverables, solutions and impeccable customer service.
  7. Ankit Anand, Director – User Experience: Ankit is a founding member of Connect2India and leads the UI and UX development for the company. He is laser focused on making our platform as easy as possible to use for our customers as well as ensuring the functionality on the platform is correct complete and comprehensive for both the Indian and overseas SMEs.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans:
For the unique combination of services that Connect2India is offering, there is no competitor in global trade domain except Alibaba, which is working in this domain since long. But it is also more like a marketplace than export executioner. One can get leads from other places but not the export order. Listing on our platform is just a way to start and arranging and executing export orders are the real gem for them which they could not get from anywhere.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans:
Connect2India is growing aggressively and envisions to expand its operations across 20 Indian cities, 12 overseas locations and increase its organic traffic impression on its online platform to 50 Million per month. Besides, we are also working towards launching an international version of Connect2India platform for worldwide MSMEs to trade from anywhere with anyone around the globe.

Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans:
Availability of Trade Finance is the latest offering from Connect2India in addition to proving end-to-end import / export solutions to MSMEs. Connect2India has tied-up with multiple lending platforms across the globe which are secured and credible to enables trade finance solutions for an MSME. Technology plays a prominent role in prioritizing ease of doing things and minimum time investment for increasing efficiency and bringing sustainability for our trade partners. This will not only help overseas SMEs build the confidence in their Indian trade counterparts but would also allow Indian MSMEs find global customers easily.

To get started, visit us at www.connect2india.com.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans:
Persistence and conviction is the key to accelerate your dream idea into reality. One must continue to strive for excellence without compromising on one’s core belief system.

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Thanks Pawan. Best wishes!

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