Small and medium-sized exporters in India struggle to communicate their designs with buyers. They can’t list those designs publicly on their website or sell through popular business-to-business platforms such as Alibaba and IndiaMart as doing so would risk giving away the proprietary property to rivals.
So they have traditionally showcased their work to potential buyers — who in this equation, depending on the category, could be anyone from Zara to Armani — in PDF and PowerPoint presentations.
The way their business works is that buyers offer feedback and provide specifications for exactly what they want. PDF and presentations, as you can imagine, are not the most efficient way to relay such conversations.
That’s the problem that attracted three entrepreneurs — two of whom worked at Zomato previously and one as an investor at Bessemer. Their startup, five-month-old SourceWiz, said on Thursday it has raised $3 million in a round led by Blume Ventures and Falcon Edge Capital’s Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI).
SourceWiz has built a platform to digitize the way exporters operate. Its platform helps them modernize their cataloguing, which leads to a direct improvement in revenue, said Divyaanshu Makkar, the startup’s co-founder and chief executive, in an interview with TechCrunch.
Cataloguing may sound like an easy problem, but it entails combining information such as images, prices, product ID from multiple databases and then combining them from scratch. “An exporter is able to use our platform to build their customized catalogue in 15 minutes. This task takes about 5 days if done in the traditional way,” he said.
India is one of the world’s largest exporters — and it’s a space that has become even more popular because of recent geopolitical dynamics, said Sajith Pai, Director at Blume Ventures, in a statement. The total exports of textiles, footwear and miscellaneous design-led products was about $40 billion in the financial year that ended in March.
“As exporters compete on the global stage, they are craving for tools that will digitize their workflows and help them trade faster and better. This is where SourceWiz comes in. We are excited by Sourcewiz’s potential to bring aboard $200b of transactions online. Most of all we are excited by the passion of the founding team – Divyaanshu, Vikas and Mayur – and their obsession to take on this massive challenge,” he added.
India’s market is also largely untapped. In recent years, several firms — including Amazon — have attempted to make inroads to help Indian businesses sell to customers globally.
Amazon said in August, for instance, that over 70,000 Indian businesses had cumulatively exported over $3 billion worth of items. But Amazon is attempting to cater to different segments of exporters.
Amazon focuses on the B2C market, whereas SourceWiz is a business-to-business play. This means that SourceWiz is serving exporters who largely produce and sell hand-made products that aren’t sold without customization. Additionally, SourceWiz is not a marketplace. (The startup makes money by charging a licensing fee for its service to exporters.)
The startup has already amassed dozens of exporters on its platform — despite the hands-on nature of this business, which as you can imagine, has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus. Makkar said the startup will eventually broaden its offerings by integrating logistics, payments, and financing services to its platform.
It also plans to expand its offerings to other Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam in the future.