Qtrove is a curated marketplace that exhibits & sells non-mass produced items from small entrepreneurs across the country. The company has recently raised ₹350 crore funding from BCCL’s Springboard Ventures. With this, the company plans to further intensify their marketing, customer acquisition efforts, and vendor network to provide enhanced services to their customers with a whole new set of offerings. In an exclusive conversation Vinamra Pandiya- Founder & CEO, Qtrove talks about his growth plans..
What inspires you to launch Qtrove? Also shed light on your entrepreneurial journey?
I am a Chemical Engineer & Software Coder by chance and Entrepreneur by choice. I hold a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E) degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, (BHU) Varanasi and joined Infosys in 2004. After a couple of years with the software giant, I started India's first online meal ordering service, Mom’s Kitchen in the 2006. Post a successful 3 year journey with Mom’s Kitchen, I joined Tasty Khana in the year 2009 as board member and Chief Operating Officer; and scaled the start up to new heights. TastyKhana was eventually bought out by FoodPanda in late 2014. For the next 6 months, I worked with Foodpanda.
In 2016 July, I came up with Qtrove. the company was started with a mission to empower local entrepreneurs who are producing unique products in their vicinity. We felt there was a need for a marketplace for curated products which are- sustainable, are non-mass produced and have what we call as the ‘Q Factor’. Such products which customers would love to own them and we don’t have to entice them by unsustainable discounts. We wanted to build ‘Etsy of India’ with an Indian twist. We believe that today with so many marketplaces offering same brands, the only pull is discounts, cashbacks etc. Today, shopping is reduced to a mere convenience. We wanted to bring the fun back to shopping in leisure where products displayed are unique, personally curated and sustainable, and where consumers buy them for that and not because we are offering some discounts. We also believe that customer is today stuck with ‘Tyranny of Choice’.
I am also an advisor to a couple of start-ups Marmetoand SpiderG where I mentors and advises the teams and helps in strategy, business development, and expansion.
According to you, what would be the estimated size of marketplace ecommerce in India? What are the factors propelling growth in this segment?
The e-commerce industry in India is growing exponentially in India and has transformed the way business is done. It is expected that the Indian e-commerce market will grow from US$ 38.5 billion in 2017 to US$ 200 billion by 2026.Increasing internet and smartphone penetration has triggered a lot of industry growth. The country's ongoing digital transformation is expected to increase India's total Internet user base from 604.21 million by December 2018 to 829 million by 2021.The Internet economy of India is expected to double from US$ 125 billion in April 2017 to US$ 250 billion by 2020, largely supported by ecommerce. India's revenue from e-commerce is expected to jump from US$ 39 billion in 2017 to US$ 120 billion in 2020, growing at the world's highest annual rate of 51%.The e-commerce sector has had a direct impact on India's micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by providing funding, software and training opportunities and also has a beneficial cascading effect on other industries. The Indian e-commerce industry has been on a path of upward growth and is expected to overtake the US to become the world's second-largest e-commerce market by 2034.Technology innovations such as digital payments, hyper-local logistics, analytics-driven customer engagement, and digital advertising are likely to support sector growth. Growth in the e-commerce sector will also improve employment, increase export sales, increase tax collection by ex-chequers, and provide consumers with better long-term products and services.
Players such Amazon and Flipkart are the leading names in this segment. What is your strategy to compete with them?
The difference between Qtrove and other online shopping sites such as Amazon and Flipkart is that we provide curated products from handpicked vendors across the categories. These products are non-massed produced, natural and sustainable products. We showcase the products on our website with personalised photoshoots of the products. In addition to this, we personally curate each vendor before they are listed on our platform and we want our customers to make the switch to a natural and sustainable lifestyle.
As of now, Qtrove covers how many pincodes in India? Going forward, what are the plans to scale-up the distribution?
As of now, we serve close to 7000 PINCODES in India. Going forward, we would be tying up with more courier partners to expand the PINCODES footprint to practically cover every district.
Have you raised any sorts of funds so far? Or plan to?
We are incubated and promoted by Growthstory (Started by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh). Later in May 2018 we received a funding of Rs350 crore from BCCL’s Springboard Ventures.
As of now, how many categories are operational on Qtrove? Going forward, what are the plans for category expansion? What are the plans for cross border retail?
We currently have 40+ categories and plan to start personalised and regional products apart from getting more deeper in existing categories.
At last, kindly highlight your expansion plans?
We currently have 15000+ curated products from 1500+ curated sellers across 40+ categories. We have served 0.2 million customers in the last two years and target is to serve 10 million customers in India and abroad by creating the positioning of a democratic, self-sustaining, two-sided, trusted marketplace built on solid content and driven by our beloved community. We plan to expand our categories and would like to enter in region and personalised products. For example, products like travel accessories, personalized stationery, keto products and vegan products. Also, we aim to be the defacto standard for all things natural and sustainable in the next 5 years. We plan to intensify our sellers’ network and provide more curated products to our customers. We want to promote what is called as the G-Commerce (Good Commerce).