SME: Helping SMEs grow makes a good business case, proves Power2SMEs R Narayan–Economic Times–01.06.2018

While working in corporates for about a decade, R Narayan realised he could execute his thoughts well – thus began the idea of starting up. His execution game was on point and today he is the founder of two successful companies – Denave and Power2SME.

When Denave was incorporated in 1999, the company focused more on helping their clientele find SME customers, and that is where Narayan began to see the parity – or the lack of it – between an SME and enterprises. This is where he decided to work on bridging the transition which led to the formation of Power2SME.

Power2SME operates like a buying club, wherein it offers information and tools that enable SMEs to reduce the costs of their procurement. Operating within several industries, including construction, manufacturing and engineering among others, the company accepts orders twenty-four-seven and allows doorstep delivery of goods with flexible payment options. With a seed capital of Rs 2crore, Power2SME was founded in January 2012 and is operated by Gurgaon-based BEBB India Pvt. Ltd.

With investors including International Finance Corporation (IFC), Kalaari Capital, Accel Partners, Inventus Capital Partners and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and former UIDAI chairman, the Gurgaon-based startup has completed five rounds of funding. In June 2012, it raised series A funding of $ 2 million, followed by a series B round of $6 million a year later. This was followed up by a series C in July 2014 of $7 million followed by an undisclosed amount in series D in 2015 and a whopping $36 million in May 2016’s series E round of funding.

In April of this year, Temasek‘s venture debt arm InnoVen Capital committed another Rs. 40 crore to Power2SME and also stated that it would support the company’s working capital needs through their partner financial institutions.

India is home to more than 40 million registered and unregistered SMEs, which makes up a staggering 95% of all industrial units in the country. About 45% of the total Indian manufacturing output and 40% of total exports come from India’s SMEs. While this may sound lucrative and hold a lot of potentials, there is no shortage of competitors in the SME servicing space – from financial to raw materials and beyond.

However, Power2SME is one of India’s few profit-making companies in the B2B space. Their customer-repeat rates are about 80-85%, and while margins may be small, the volumes make up for it. In first-time transactions with new customers, Power2SME makes a profit that is twice the customer acquisition costs, and for repeat transactions, their profitability goes up to around 60 times the retention cost.

The company has also developed a platform to enable a smooth connection between SMEs and financial institutes called FinanSME. Besides, they also have SMEshops to address the growing needs of MRO goods – Maintenance, Repair and Operations goods.

Having experienced the corporate life for a decade, Narayan feels that entrepreneurship could get lonely. However, that problem, for him, was solved when two colleagues of his – from Microsoft – joined him. “The intelligentsia started happening again,” he says, adding, “since then it’s been a dream run – I have just been lucky, I guess.”

Aside from luck, ask Narayan what his mantra to success is, and he says, “If you do the right things, you will succeed.” He believes that there is no timeline to ‘making it’ and adds that some may hit success in six months while others could take years. Contrary to popular opinion, he does not believe in the theory of failure being a stepping stone to success, “Just because you have failed two times, it does not guarantee you success the third time. It is finally what you have built.”

Having set up a profit-making B2B startup, Narayan is of the opinion that a company’s life expectancy is a minimum of 200 years. According to him, the entrepreneur should stand to win only after all sides in an equation have won, “You can’t think about you winning, you should win last.”

via SME: Helping SMEs grow makes a good business case, proves Power2SMEs R Narayan

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