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In a country that has yet to shake off the conservative mentality of having a government job, Soptle is the name of a revolutionary breakthrough made by a nineteen-year-old boy, Pravas Chandragiri. Probably because business in his blood cannot be avoided, at the age of 12, the boy learned his small steps in business while managing his uncle’s kirana shop in Balasore (Odisha).
From there, he experienced pretty much the difficulties and inefficiencies of a kirana store, such as limited assortment, low margin, zero bargaining power, no potential to grow the business beyond a threshold, etc.
At the age of 17, he began his entrepreneurial journey with a company that primarily focused on connecting regional manufacturers with retailers. He was the youngest CEO of that networking platform known as RFT (Rural Future Technology) where he connected 1200 kirana shops in 9 districts of Odisha and successfully introduced more than 20 Indian regional brands to them. It was a profitable venture with an annual turnover of INR 60 lakhs. Soon, he realized the potential for that business to scale in a technology-led, asset-light fashion. That was the eureka moment of him and the idea of Soptle conceived.
In a nutshell, Pravas’ story starts from managing a retail store at the age of 12 to empowering 50,000 retailers at the age of 20.
Obviously, it is really curious to know about Soptle’s starting journey, since the cornerstone is young and energetic. In a traditional supply chain, there are so many consumer components present between the manufacturer and the retailers, like C&F, General C&F, Superstockist, Stockist, distributors, wholesalers, and then comes the retailers.
“At Soptle we identify some of these consumable components as unnecessary. They are not even necessary for the movement of goods. We believe that C&F, General C&F,
Superstockist, Stockist as unnecessary consumption components. So we removed these disorganized and inefficient consumer components from the traditional supply chain and used only the necessary consumer components,” recalls the founder of the company’s initial establishments and mode of operation.
Chandragiri added that, “We believe that last-mile components (distributors and wholesalers) are necessary consumer components. These stakeholders really matter for overall business transactions. Therefore, we use/enable them in the FMCG supply chain to build a profitable, high-growth business.
Young Brain is on a mission to improve the lives of over 8,000,000 general trade retailers and approximately 5,000 manufacturers in India.
“We enable FMCG manufacturers to increase their revenue by giving them access to nationwide distribution at zero fixed cost, through our technology-enabled sales and distribution channel links to the marketplace, helping them expand their sales geographically, improve their capacity utilization, expand their business and improve their net margins by 3-4 times,” said Pravas Chandragiri, founder and CEO of Soptle.
He also added that currently, the company’s distribution network consists of more than 50,000 retailers and distributors, and has been growing 2-3 times month by month steadily.
Where there is innovation, there will be investment. The same logic applies to the Soptle case as well. While providing information on the company’s investment rounds, the CEO stated that, “In September, we had closed the first tranche of the Angel round. We extended this round due to high demand. Furthermore, we are fully subscribed for our pre-seed “. round and we will close it during the next quarter.
According to market estimates, India accounts for 11.69 percent of FMCG’s total global distribution; contributes to 18 percent of India’s GDP; However, among the 12 million Kirana store owners in India, average sales are only $700 per month. Of these 12 million kirana stores across the country, 7 to 8 million retail stores remain unserved by most consumer brands due to the high cost structure of traditional distribution networks.
In the midst of all this, there are immense challenges and competition in this ecosystem. A prodigy in business will always be one who faces enormous challenges. No doubt, so does Chandragiri. In his words, “We have seen several transformations in the B2B retail segments in the last 20 years, but no one has cracked the code for the B2B marketplace, and one fundamental problem remains unresolved: geographic expansion at zero fixed cost. And we believe that a The manufacturer-focused approach is the next step in the evolution of B2B marketplaces and we are going to monetize our first-mover advantage.”
“After identifying them as a necessary consumer component, we shifted our approach to solving this by using technology and partnering with them on various levels,” the founder also agreed to the solution.
We live in an ever-evolving society where social media trends come and go, consumer trends come and go, and what works today probably won’t work tomorrow—and here comes the importance of planning for the future.
It was clear that Pravas Chandragiri was excited to share the company’s action plan. He said: “We plan to scale about 100 times from here over the next year, develop our technology teams and grow our distribution network 15-20 times. Posting that the next frontier is going global with our technology and playbook in place for 2024”.
For more groundbreaking innovations to come in the field of business, the young entrepreneur advised his followers that “if you’re thinking of a startup, then start today!”