Business India ×

Published on: Feb. 14, 2021, 4:43 p.m.
How Shop101 democratises entrepreneurship
  • Gupta, Jain, Chhajed: offering a holistic approach

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’ – Milton Berle, an American comedian and actor of yesteryears had once said. This is the mantra the three young founders of Shop101 adopted to give them motivation. Abhinav Jain, 34, founder-CEO, Aditya Gupta, 34, co-founder-CTO and Kalpak Chhajed, 35, also a co-founder, hailed from small towns and had diverse backgrounds. But they were joined by a common goal, which became their company’s main vision: democratise entrepreneurship – a mantra, which allowed them to enable a lot of people to open doors.

 “The business success by Shop101 is a series of digital tools that enable entrepreneurs to get more business through WhatsApp, contacts, and other digital channels,” explains Jain. “The objective is to help the average seller get more orders through these tools, in an effort to improve their earnings."

In 2015, when the start-up concept was booming, Jain, Gupta and Chhajed realised they had the potential to democratise entrepreneurship through technology. With social commerce showing the potential to become a $70 billion industry by 2030, the co-founders realised that they could create a platform that would bring together small merchants and individuals who wanted to sell their goods. They knew that entrepreneurs faced a lot of challenges when it comes to setting up a business, such as proper infrastructure, resources and investment. They set out to eliminate these challenges and help entrepreneurs fulfil their dream of starting their own businesses. This gave them the idea for their business plan – a way for anyone to become an entrepreneur without any restrictions.

By 2016, they had combined their knowledge and resources to create a social commerce venture called Shop101, which was born with the twin objective of helping suppliers with a marketplace and individuals with a shot at entrepreneurship by reselling to their social circles but without any investment. The backbone for their vision had to be small merchants and traders in smaller cities.

“I have been running an e-commerce business for the past four years and I have worked with many companies,” says Viki Sharma of Viki Fashionz, a supplier for Shop101. “But my experience with Shop101 has been the most rewarding. Our category manager guided me in every situation and his efforts and dedication helped me grow my overall sales. Even during the lockdown, the payments were not delayed.”

The new challenge brought with it a new opportunity to expand their business. With deliveries becoming crucial in 2020, the company entered a new market, which did not have a holistic solution. So, Dash101 was born – a full-stack ecommerce platform that allows individuals or organisations to either launch an online business or scale it with industry-leading logistics SaaS solutions, which allowed the company to offer a complete end-to-end solution for businesses and individuals alike. From selling to shipping, everything is now possible under the same umbrella.

Shop101 has quickly grown to include over nine million re-sellers, primarily from Tier II and Tier III cities; 10,000 suppliers; and more than 100,000 products in 100+ categories. Till date, Shop101 has raised a total of $26 million from investors such as Stellaris Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital, Unilever Ventures, and Vy Capital and is in the process of further fund-raising to expand its customer base for both Shop101 and Dash101. 

“Dash101 services are good,” acknowledges Rahul, owner of AB Enterprise, a Dash101 customer. “I have a handicrafts business and I sell from Pune. I get good orders and have zero tension about delivery, thanks to Dash101. Everything is easy to manage with the all-in-one dashboard!” Dash101 has a team size of 35 and ships 150,000 shipments to 26,000+ pincodes and 7,500+ (active) clients, with a total base of over 17,000, located in urban as well as rural areas. 

The biggest competition faced to date is the mindset, where people who were originally comfortable shopping in person at malls or stores are only slowly coming to terms with online shopping and buying from trusted social circles. Similarly, in the logistics sector, Shop101 is looking at simplifying shipping and making it easier for companies to scale their business at the best cost. 

“We wanted to offer a more holistic approach towards democratising entrepreneurship,” says Jain. “While micro-entrepreneurs can use Shop101 to earn from selling to friends and family with no investment, Dash101 allows individuals to open their online store and offer services like integrated delivery and payment, easily manageable from one dashboard.” He feels the future belongs to concepts like social commerce and Shop101. Jain had worked as a strategy consultant with Bain & Co and was also a tech researcher with Microsoft US, before that.

One of the fastest-growing trends he has seen in 2020 was the opening up of entrepreneurships. “The economic slowdown has pushed more people to work from home, making ‘home-preneurs’ a common idea.  On the Dash101 front, deliveries are becoming more popular as people are slowly becoming comfortable with getting everything delivered to their doorstep. This is why our tech team is always brainstorming to come up with better solutions. The company touts its machine learning algorithm as a success designed specifically to ensure more accurate deliveries with low RTOs, allowing businesses owners to save costs effectively,” adds Jain. 

There has also been a greater emphasis on learning and teaching with online courses, live sessions and one-on-one mentorship. As a lot of people are learning about social commerce; helping them find their ground has become a priority for the team. So, they’ve also started offering learning content to help them easily grow their business. 

 “The coming years are expected to be exciting and dynamic for the company,” enthuses Jain. “We will move on with our vision to help bring entrepreneurship within the reach of the common man. We are constantly coming up with solutions to help entrepreneurs.”

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