(This article was first published on Razorpay Blog.)
An age-old proverb, one that we learned in school, is – Necessity is the mother of invention. However, its variant, one that we’ve learned in this modern, tech-driven age is – Necessity is the mother of innovation.
Innovation is the key to success, we know this. There is a lot of merit in amending existing processes for the better, and Santhosh Bandila knew this as well. Especially in times of COVID-19.
Santhosh is one of those successful entrepreneurs who have been able to innovate in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown to provide a solution to a key problem that people faced during that time. And he was not only able to innovate, but also scale with the help of Razorpay Capital.
Here’s the story of Resquiller Technologies and how they endeavoured to provide fresh groceries in Hyderabad during the lockdown.
Say namaste to Namaste Farm
One of the key problems that households in urban areas in Hyderabad faced during the lockdown was getting access to fresh grocery for their daily nutritional needs. Santhosh and Resquiller Technologies launched Namaste Farm, a vegetable delivery app, to solve this very problem.
“Grocery shopping was never an activity I really liked,” says Santhosh. “I started to dread it during the lockdown. Each excursion became a tactical mission to get in and out of retail stores as quickly as possible.”
Santhosh believes that food should be accessible by quality selection and hygiene. The Indian grocery market is dominated by close to 12 million local grocery stores, with most Indian families preferring to purchase groceries from these kirana stores.
There were many reasons that hindered the growth of online grocers. A lack of trust among consumers when it came to receiving fresh produce was a major reason, according to Santhosh. “No e-grocery platform had found decent traction in fresh farm produce, because managing the supply chain in this category is cumbersome.”
This was a tough nut to crack. One that Santhosh did with Namaste Farms.
With Namaste Farm, they were able to deliver fresh produce within 24 hours in all major areas of Hyderabad. “We made a difference for Hyderabad citizens because, when compared to bigger players in the space, we provided superior quality in both produce and service,” says Santhosh. “Yes, we reached apartments where regular deliveries were difficult. But more than anything else, our produce was always fresh.”
In October this year, the Hyderabad-based Namaste Farm announced its entry into the online grocery delivery space for a few pin codes in Bengaluru.
The Namaste Farm team hand-picked vegetables and fruits before delivery to ensure their customers receive hygienic products. These are sourced directly from farmers.
And the entire process was made seamless by using Razorpay Payment Gateway to make payments convenient and easy for their customers.
But tracking payments was still not easy, given that they had a huge number of customers from all over the city. This is where Razorpay Smart Collect came to their rescue. With Smart Collect, Santhosh and his team could create virtual accounts with different UPI descriptions for each customer. This made it extremely easy for them to track and follow up on payments.
While the demand for grocery delivery made life challenging for customers in the early weeks of the pandemic, it has also boosted business for companies Namaste Farm.
Growing with Razorpay Capital
One of the most important aspects of providing fresh produce every day is procuring it in time for the planned deliveries. Namaste Farm was able to do that by associating with multiple vendors. To ensure the procurement happened smoothly, they had to make payments to their vendors in advance.
But they themselves had to wait for 3 to 5 working days to realise the digital payments made to them by their customers. “This was sort of a period of lull where we were not able to more stock or invest further in our business. But waiting for payments to come to us in the regular cycle was also not the solution,” says Santhosh.
“Namaste Farm generates so much online traffic and has grown substantially since the pandemic began, which means that we simply have to cater to this burgeoning customer base,” he says.
The solution turned out to be Cash Advance and Working Capital Loans from Razorpay.
With Razorpay Cash Advance, Resquiller Technologies were able to quickly borrow money that they needed to acquire stock and fix logistical issues.
As the name suggests, Cash Advance is a form of instant additional money that a business can acquire on the basis of the digital payments they are expected to receive. This loan is then repaid through the digital payment settlements and can be taken again as many times as needed up to the approved limit.
“On peak days like Saturdays and Sundays, when our orders typically saw a spike and our capital was engaged, the Cash Advance facility gave you immense comfort,” says Santhosh. “The availability of instant cash when we needed it was priceless.”
Apart from that, Razorpay’s Working Capital Loans also helped them onboard small-scale vendors and grow their supply chain. For a business that’s scaling, dipping only into their slim profits is not a sustainable way to grow. What a business ideally needs is easy and quick access to working capital loans.
To enhance their supply chain, Namaste Farm needed to pay small-scale vendors in advance. This ensured quality produce as well as additional stock to meet spike in orders. They were able to make these advance payments by accessing Working Capital Loans from Razorpay.
Santhosh says, ‘Our vendors were also happy. They gave us discounts as well for receiving early payments.” With parts of their customer payments directly going as repayments for the loans, Santhosh could allocate a larger amount of time and bandwidth on growing his business.
The road ahead
In the coming times, Santhosh is planning to say “Namaste” to other cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and potentially, even Chennai.
“Razorpay has offered us a fantastic option in the form of their Capital products, in addition to payments, ensuring the growth for our new venture,” he concludes.