Two college friends, Sonakshi Nathani and Ashutosh Singla met at IIIT (International Institute of Information Technology), Hyderabad, in 2011. The duo knew they wanted to set up their own tech company and had a few startup ideas, but wasn’t exactly sure of which problem to aim for. Sonakshi’s family has its real estate business of building residential colonies and also runs a grocery store. The store staff initially took orders on WhatsApp, and regular customers used to notify the items they wanted on chat. A lot of time was flagging to figure out the order and in checking the inventory. This was the ‘Eureka’ moment when the duo officially launched their startup, BIKAYI, on April 1, 2019.
“In March 2019, we said, why not we help and build it. Order management and catalog management were what we primarily wanted to help out with. We said, let’s quickly build an app where merchants can put their items. We started posting on wholesaler groups on Facebook about the app,” Sonakshi says.
The Vision is to Help Small scale Businesses by Providing them Free Services.
BIKAYI makes taking and placing orders for small merchants and their customers more understandable by providing them a digital catalog management solution. In this age of the internet community, not promoting your products on Facebook and WhatsApp is a colossal miss-out. The Bikayi app helps to start your WhatsApp integrated online shop in 2 minutes. By paying a minimal amount to enhance your product limit, Bikayi offers combinations that permit you to take payments via varied methods like UPI, Debit, etc. transaction charges starting from just 0.99 % per transaction in your domain very quickly. Bikayi app helps in setting up professional-looking catalogs and also to make WhatsApp business cards.
“Anyone doing commerce on WhatsApp is our primary customer, whether it’s a grocery store, wholesaler, manufacturer, retailer, restaurant, or a bakery,” Sonakshi says.
Bikayi App, Helping Small Traders go Online in COVID times.
By January, the foursome- the two co-founders, a young customer care executive, and a fresh engineer from IIT Kharagpur made the Hyderabad-based startup profitable. Bikayi recently raised $2 million in its seed funding round, from a clutch of international investors including early-stage fund, Mantis Ventures, Y Combinator, Pioneer Fund, amongst other notable angels. According to the company’s claim, Bikayi is currently used by grocery stores, wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers from more than 3000 towns across India, the company said.
Currently, more than 53% of Bikayi’s merchants are coming from Tier 3 & Tier 4 cities.
Bootstrapped with The Co-founders’ Savings of Around Rs 7 lakh
Currently, the startup has about 85,000 active merchants on its platform. It is onlooking 120 percent growth in terms of revenue and number of merchants. About 3.5 million users visit Bikayi stores per month. The platform is free to use until up to 500 products display and posting that for branding and other offerings, Bikayi proposes a subscription-based model ranging from Rs 2,999 to Rs 7,999 per year. The startup also fortified its team in July with ten new members, looking forward to strengthening the squad further by taking up the headcount to 45 by October.
To a pointed question about whether it’s scary to compete with platforms from the stables of two of the richest men on the planet, Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani, Sonakshi says, “We are not scared of Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani. The insights we have now have helped us build confidence. Of course, they have massive capital and reach, but onboarding (merchants) is a tricky thing, something we have mastered well.”