Rarely do you come across a startup where technology is an enabler and not the core product. With new mobile applications and web platforms springing up every day, we almost forget that technology is, after all, a means to an end and not an end in itself. When non-tech startups do use technology, they typically deploy it at the back-end to resolve issues or to support transactions.
Bengaluru-based Applicate, founded by Deepak Rewadi and Ranjeet Kumar, offers a product aimed at the front-end. Applicate’s flagship uni-channel product EXEED, which stands for execution, effectiveness, engagement, and data analytics is an integrated mobile and cloud-based platform. It aims to transform the sales, service, marketing and distribution functions of organisations with large teams.
Inception and growth
The founders were colleagues at Hindustan Coca-Cola beverages with Ranjeet (42), heading the Rajasthan operations, and Deepak (44), heading the Madhya Pradesh operations. It was during this stint that the duo realised the potential for a tool to maximise productivity. In June 2014, they quit their jobs and began building up on the idea. According to Deepak, “For a long time we thought there was no solution to the problems we faced, once we were exposed to the possibilities of technology, we realized most of our issues could be sorted out effectively. Our technology head, Snehadeep Vikram (worked with Avaya and Tech Mahindra), was instrumental in the creation of the platform.”
“The back-end operations of most of the large and mid-size companies are well organized with ERP or equivalent IT infrastructure,” says Ranjeet. “But for the front-end, which drives execution and business growth for any organisation, there is no standard process or platform that can be adopted to enhance its effectiveness.”
Being users and not technology developers turned out to be an advantage for the founders. It helped them focus on how the technology could help enhance execution and not find use cases for the technology they built. EXEED is used to facilitate business gains, help speed up business deliverables and solve on-ground problems quickly.
The following are some of the notable features of the application:
- RBAD (Relevance-based Analytics Dashboard) – A to-do list for different users as per their functions and roles to help in decision-making and to drive day-to-day business and execution.
- Exception Dash Board– Highlights non-compliance for execution and business growth objectives.
- Market Opportunity and Potential Mapping Tool – Integrates primary data captured through mobile, secondary data from available sources and any direct or surrogate benchmark data and establishes meaningful correlations to arrive on market specific insights, gaps, opportunities and potential for consumer goods companies.
- Image Processing for Planograms (in development)– Help customers create and compare planogram pictures with actual execution pictures and generating reports and analytics to monitor compliance.
Applicate’s 38-member team is based out of Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bengaluru and most of its clients are also located in these cities.
The fledgling startup has won eight clients, including marquee brands like Kelloggs, Pidilite, Cadbury and Madura Garments. The company is in talks with over 20 more firms.
Applicate earns revenues by charging a one-time set-up and customisation fee and an annual licensing fee. Typically for a sales module the licensing fee ranges from Rs 3,500 a year to Rs 10,500.
Challenges and the road ahead
As with many young startups, Applicate too is facing difficulties with attracting the right talent as developers are still reluctant to join startups. The founders are keen on building up the team especially in Delhi and Bengaluru. They are working on building permanent channels for recruitment. “We have tied up with Uttara InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd. that offers a three-month JAVA certification course, so we can recruit from its talent pool and bridge our talent gap. The dean, Vikram Shastry, has been very helpful.”
Another challenge is the amount of time—typically two to three months—taken to bring technology to the front-end of companies. The time invested becomes a limiting factor for the venture to take on new projects. The firm is planning to monetise a few offshoots of the platform to increase revenue. Two of the features that will be offered include Trade GINITM for connecting channel partners and REMOTETM for tracking the effectiveness of promotions and below-the-line marketing.
Applicate is targeting to add at least 100 customers by the end of the current financial year and a further 500 customers in fiscal 2016-17.
The company raised Rs 3.5 crores this May from 12 senior corporate professionals, including Amit Gupta, a Vice President at India’s largest real estate focused PE fund Urban Infra; Rajiv Nayan, a Director at TCS-Canada; Rishi Vasudev, a Vice President at Flipkart; Vishal Chaddha, Head of advertising sales at HT Media, and Rakesh Mishra, Managing Director of Ravian Pharmaceuticals.
Deepak signs off stating, “There has been a huge customer excitement around our platform which is now working across industries. As the next logical step, we plan to scale-up our operations to reach out to maximum customers in India and launch our platform in North America for which we have been doing some ground work. We plan to raise $ 5 million by the end of third quarter to support our scale-up plans.”
[“source – yourstory.com”]