Punit Sindhwani and Sudhir Saluja are a team since college. Punit, the founder of Paxcel Technologies Limited (an enterprise product maker) and Sudhir Saluja, the owner of Electronics Retail (a supplier to Flipkart and others) have come together, many years after college, to form a joint venture. The company christened Mirchimart is trying out some new things like gesture based shopping and an online+offline sales. The company is on track to reaching Rs 20 crore turnover in the first year, says Punit, the Chief Technology Officer of Mirchimart. Edited excerpts of an interview:
Everyone is doing the same thing in e-commerce. What is your differentiation?
Real differentiation is not going to be in terms of deals that one can display or the one money one can spend on Ads. It will be about how the company is using technology, both at front-end to customer and at backend in operations and also how the company is using domain knowledge to get user right product at right price at profit.
My company specializes in creating innovative software products, enterprise grade mission critical products, while my partner specializes in Gadgets commerce. We feel we will able to beat any competition in both segments.
How does this thought reflect in what you do?
Few things that we feel that will enable us to do so. Strong focus and experience in Gadgets sale is one. We live and breathe gadgets and is the passion that helps us find right products for our customers.
Secondly: with our hybrid model, we want technology to not only to reach customers over the net, but also to give them great experience in our small retail outlets. For example all our retail outlets shopping will be aided with Tablets and some with Kinects that will allow users to browse through catalog, know about features, compare products and then if they find right product in inventory at that retail outlet, to look and feel and then purchase it right there from tablet or Kinect itself.
Have you raised funding? How is the company funded?
It is self funded, Both Sudhir (Our CEO) and I own our respective companies which have invested in this JV. Sudhir runs a significant size distributorship of gadgets and I run an Enterprise software product development company.
Right now we funding it on monthly basis, to cover all expenses. We are also generating decent sales to cover part of expenses. Our Philosophy is to never sell any product at loss.
Will you raise funds from external sources? When?
We are not in rush. We are not adverse to the idea, surely we can use money to expedite the plans, to act as catalyst. Bigger danger in any business is not the lack of money but lack of focus and we don’t want it take away our focus right now.
What is this gesture based shopping: Can you elaborate?
We are experimenting with Kinect (that we plan to showcase in upcoming Trade fair in Delhi), where user will be able to converse with our computing using gestures (instead of mouse /keyboard/touchpad ) and browse through catalogs, see deals, get knowledge about product or even buy products from there.
Right now we are in 10 offline locations. We want to increase our offline presence across the country. We are targeting a sales turnover of Rs 20 crore by the end of this fiscal year. We will explore tie ups with large format retail stores and also set up shops using a franchise model.
You are already a supplier to Flipkart and others. Won’t they have a problem?
We live in a world where there is ever diminishing line between partners and competitors, Much like Samsung / Apple, or Apple / Google case. In any case we don’t directly supply them, one of companies of one of the founders supplies them material, much like how it supplies to other online portals including mirchimart.com. In US, HP, Dell sell online also and also through other online portal, as long as there is value delivered, all partnership scenarios exist in today’s world.