Kalpak Chhajed, Co-Founder, Dash101

Dash101 is a genesis of bringing a stronger ecosystem for ecommerce in India which drives penetration in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India.

Nov 09, 2020 07:11 IST India Infoline News Service

Kalpak Chhajed, Co-Founder, looks after the business side of things - Growth, Supply and Logistics. He is operationally quick with numbers and faster in execution. He first met Abhinav when working with Bain & Co. for 6 years. Having also managed a multi-crore family run business before taking Dash101 by the scruff of the neck; it gave him all the right practical skills to lead business at Dash101. Other than being the speed the organization needs, he is always looking to build a meaningful business that impacts lives across, after all, he does come from a family of businesspersons!

In an interaction with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com, Kalpak Chhajed, Co-Founder, Dash101, said, "Dash101 offers a wide range of business, marketing and logistics solutions under one roof".

Give us a brief about Dash101
 
We wanted Dash101 to represent something more, where merchants and sellers could rely on Dash101 as a business partner, someone who can help them grow their business.
One can see this reflected in our tagline which reads - Helping You Win At Business. Dash101 is a full stack e-commerce partner that offers logistics by aggregating numerous courier companies, online store builder and marketing solutions to make the business big. From being able to send the smallest parcels, to ensuring that customers have their own websites for representation, Dash101 was created as a complete eCommerce solution - one which acts as a business partner and less as a software as a service (SaaS).
Some of our industry first features are designed to offer optimum support to businesses of all sizes:
  • Single out of the box solution for store creation, shipping and marketing
  • No Set-up or Subscription Fee
  • Powerful AI / ML engine to reduce returns and manage non deliverable items
  • No Minimum order commitment; completely pay as you go.
 
What made you coin the idea for launching this company?
 
Dash101 is a genesis of bringing a stronger ecosystem for ecommerce in India which drives penetration in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. With Shop101; which is a reseller platform - we wanted to make entrepreneurship accessible; because it allowed for anyone with a mobile phone and a bank account to start a business online without any investment. Dash101 on the other hand we wanted to make online selling for manufacturers, social media influencers, wholesalers and stockists as simple as possible. The key insight here is that with the general trend towards online buying, there is a huge untapped market who want to start an online business with an online store, payment gateway, shipping solution - all bundled into one. The Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026; there is a continuing focus on online payments too with a huge adoption of UPI and other wallet payment systems.
 
What are the industry challenges faced by you and how do you overcome them?
 
One major challenge that we are facing when it comes to providing logistics support is that with the influx of Tier II and Tier III cities becoming more tech-savvy and ordering online, shipping to these places is tricky as there is no proper address mapping.

People in these cities tend to provide addresses based on landmarks that are specific to only the locals, this proves a problem when trying to ship products nationally.
 
However, we are working on a number of solutions to overcome them. We’ve created proper address input systems on our app. We have also designed a machine learning algorithm that sorts addresses and flags incorrect or incomplete addresses prompting the users to input a complete address into the system.
 
Another challenge that we are trying to overcome is being able to foresee adversities like COVID in the future. COVID resulted in a complete disruption in the logistics supply chain, and currently, we are working on a plan to ensure that we are prepared for any adversities that can land us in a similar situation in the future.
 
 
What is the business model?
 
Dash101 offers a wide range of business, marketing and logistics solutions under one roof. We don’t want to be your simple logistics shippers, instead, we want to become a one stop business partner to help you grow your business to greater heights.
 
This is why we have not limited our business model to simply shipping or providing logistics services. Instead, we help companies create an online presence, help them learn how to market their products, and even offer them the best and cheapest logistics solutions in India with our Shipping Partner Recommendation engine (SPRe).
 
Online stores can be made completely free, and one can get started with our mobile app and does not even need a laptop. There is a Pro version of the store builder which offers different themes, advanced customer management; cart abandonment, domain names and much more.
 
On the shipping front, our rates are the lowest in the industry. Because of our existing relationships with third party logistics companies; we’ve extended those rates to any online seller without any monthly commitment. You could be sending one parcel or 1000, the rates are the same. For larger companies which do far higher volumes; we offer lower rates more suited for them and also help them manage cash flows.
 
How would you differentiate pre and post covid for your business?
 
COVID and lockdown has resulted in a lot of sellers and buyers to come online. So, we are now seeing a lot of first-time entrepreneurs who are looking to take their business digital. This has given us the opportunity to help a lot of small businesses create their eCommerce stores online. We’ve now been working with a lot of first-time suppliers to help them become online sellers, allowing them a wider reach with our well-established network
 
This has also led to more customers becoming online shoppers. As per Goldman Sach, India's e-commerce industry will reach $99 billion in size while online retail is expected to more than double to around 11% by 2024 from 4.7% in 2019 while increasing at a 27% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). However, considering the lockdowns and huge spurt in online shopping; we peg that there could be a heavy upside on these figures.
 
https://www.statista.com/statistics/251631/number-of-digital-buyers-in-india/
 
Another area of business where we’ve seen change post-COVID is the ratio of Prepaid to COD orders. India has predominantly been a COD country, but with COVID, a lot of people have now switched to prepaid orders, to ensure fewer cash transactions. Because of this, we’ve also seen a shift in returns because of wrong addresses, compared to COD because the general tendency is to be careful once payment is made in advance.
 
How has this pandemic affected your business and do you see any scope of it changing the industry scenario in the years to come?
 
While we’ve seen an influx of new suppliers and buyers, the lockdown had disrupted a lot of our business. Our major issue was the lockdown stopping us from conducting our business since intercity and intracity delivery had become difficult.
 
However, with relaxation easing in, we are seeing a growth in terms of buyers and sellers, especially from Tier II and Tier III cities. This is also something we are excited to see how this will change the industry scenario, including how eCommerce platforms will evolve and grow to offer solutions to the growing number of buyers from Tier II and Tier III cities. Month on month, we have seen a 30% increase in shipment numbers since the lockdown started easing up.
 
How do you foresee Dash101 in the next 5 years?
 
We envision Dash101 as one which democratizes entrepreneurship. For this, we want to create an ecosystem to easily start and scale a business in India. So while we focus on three aspects of running an online business - selling, shipping and marketing; we’ll be looking at aggressively penetrating Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
 
A key takeaway that you would like to share that will help other entrepreneurs grow
 
It’s important to have a leading figure in an entrepreneur’s life. My uncle was a great inspiration for me and his thought process always stood out amongst all the things he did and how he built his business. Two things really stood out for me as an entrepreneur - focusing on solving a meaningful problem, fully knowing your target audience and and to always think about the future, and never about the present. This is what we are also doing at Dash101 - we’re going to democratize entrepreneurship!

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