Q:How has your journey at BPHC been?
Piyush – My journey began back in 2014. I was an Electronics and Instrumentation student back then. I worked hard in the first year and I was able to get my branch upgraded to Electronics and Communication along with M. Sc. Economics. As I reached my second year, I felt that I had to do something beyond academics. At that time, I shared a room with Shaurya Bajaj. One day, when we were just having our random discussions, we came up with an idea that we felt was worthy of a start-up. As time progressed, so did our idea. My studies had been going down a bit in the second and the third year. So now in our fourth year we are primarily focusing on academics.
Prakhar – My journey too started in 2014. In my first year, I wasn’t much into academics.
I wanted to work in some department or clubs. So one of my first work experiences had happened in Department of Sponsorship and Marketing. Working over there gave me a lot of exposure. Later we realised that we wanted to do something of our own. So that’s where the idea of a start-up was generated. I had already worked with one of my seniors, Shivam Mittal on two of his start-up ideas. The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Leadership helped us a lot in learning how most of the things work and how to give a head start to your own idea. When I came here, I didn’t even know what the actual definition of a start-up was. During our first year we discovered and explored the basics of a start-up. Then in our second year when we came up with an executable plan we decided to give it a try.
Q:What is the idea behind your start-up and the name?
Prakhar - The name of our start-up is Just Bulk It. Piyush was the one who got this idea in the very first place. The idea behind our start-up was to bring the Business to Business market on an online platform. Usually Business to Business markets are converted in a very conventional format. Like for example Amazon, Flipkart work on a Business to Consumer chain. So that is now working on an online platform. There have been many other initiatives for taking the Business to Business chain online but none of them have been completely directional. So Just Bulk It has always been an initiative of how do we connect the manufacturers directly to the wholesalers online where we are acting as the medium as well as the supplier for all your wholesale needs. Piyush will tell you how the idea actually came up.
Piyush – My dad has been working in the wholesale business. I remember during my 10th boards, my dad had to travel long distances to buy stuff for the shop. So, while brainstorming for an idea, this is just the basics of what I came up with. On a further stage, we thought that such traditional markets could be digitalised. As for the name, initially we started without a name. Later on, when we asked our friends for a name, one of my friend came up with this name.
Q:How has your start-up journey till now been?
Piyush – We started back in November 2015 and for the first two or three months we were doing some market research on how things work. To understand the feasibility of the idea. We started the operations in February 2016, where we executed our first order for LIC. When we were in our PS-1, Shaurya built the website and we went online.
Prakhar - During the first stage of our start-up we tried taking a survey. We tried to take an exhaustive survey. We used to go down the streets of Hyderabad. We wanted to know if something of this kind is actually required in the market. We used to board the 212 bus and just get down at any random spot where there were many shops and start the survey. The survey continued for two months. We had taken around 20 surveys. After analysing our surveys, we realised that there was an actual need of such a thing. We saw that many wholesalers and shopkeepers faced problems wherein the stocks wouldn’t be enough or there were issues in the delivery of stocks. The people sensed a need for an online android platform which could ease out the process and they would not have to contact others directly. Also, while checking things like cash on delivery and credit systems through the questions of the survey, we realised the prototype of our product. Our first order was given by LIC and we carried out the complete process very smoothly. The feedback we received was good and it gave us a confidence to carry on with a greater enthusiasm. After the successful execution of the first order, LIC offered us with numerous orders from most of its branches in Hyderabad. So that was like the first milestone achieved by us.
Piyush – The next day I had my Control systems exam, during Test 1. Just the previous day we had gone for the order completion and to me, it was a very different and amazing experience.
Prakhar – When our first order was completed and we got a check in the name of Just Bulk It, it was a completely different feeling. That was the biggest motivation for our future endeavours. So, when in July we received orders from 15 offices, it was a huge challenge for us. We had to talk to all offices, take their orders, ensure the completion and delivery. We were only three people. We used to board a 212 and go to the place where we procure our items and directly go to the offices in Hyderabad to deliver.
Piyush - I remember that literally once we lifted six paper boxes of 23KG each, up for two to three floors. We used to feel so miserable at times because the process was itself so tiring. After all of this then we had to drive back to campus for one hour.
Prakhar – It was very challenging at that time. But as things progressed, now we have an employee who is taking care of all the delivery services. Right now, most of the things have smoothened up and a lot of bull work has been taken down our shoulder. The biggest motivation that has stayed through all of this is that the customers which we handle have never left our services. Right now, we are managing around 18 customers. Within every two months they place an order with us. As far as statistics go we have done a business of around 20 to 25 lacs within a year and a half.
Piyush – Right now we mostly trade stationary products. Office and corporate stationary products are what we usually sell. Why we considered the stationary business. The market is easier than other product markets and Hyderabad being an IT hub, the demand for such businesses is also very high.
Q:What are your respective roles in your start-up and from where did you manage to get the initial funding required?
Piyush – There are no such clearly defined roles because right now we are two people on campus, one is in PS-2 and the other has already graduated. The technical part is handled by Shaurya Bajaj. The other operations like dealing with clients, checking on the completion of orders is done by all of us.
Prakhar – When you plan for a start-up initially you have a group and you try to have variably skilled people among your team. So, when Piyush came up with the idea, he approached me since he knew I being in the Department of Sponsorship and Marketing had a good marketing background. I knew how to deal with clients. If your start-up is related to technical, you start finding more tech-oriented people. As our start-up includes client as well as technical management, we are a team of varied abilities.
Piyush - As far as initial funding is concerned, we pooled in money from our parents and did it on our own. As for now, we don’t have any other sources of funds.
Q:What do you think or predict is the future of your start-up?
Prakhar – See when in a start-up, we all have a vision. We carry out that vision through each and every step of the process. Now, being in college we have to manage both our orders as well as our academics. It has happened many a time, that we do receive an order and we have our comprehensives the other day. The companies who place orders don’t know that because we represent ourselves as the team of Just Bulk It and not as the students of BPHC running a start-up. So, amidst all these challenges, it is usually difficult to define a proper vision. Instead, we define short-term targets. For example, if now we have 15 clients, by the end of the year we aim to achieve a target of 25 clients. Also, if our monthly revenue is around 5 lac rupees let’s take it to 8 lac rupees. Such short-term targets or visions keep us motivated. The start-up which we handle deals with an unpredictable market. We keep receiving feedback and criticism all the time. We are currently trying our best to take the start-up to new levels.
Q:What are the legal aspects of a start-up and how do you deal with it?
Piyush – Since we deal with corporate clients, we initially faced a problem by not having a TIN or VAT number for the start-up. For that we had to register our start-up. Once we got our TIN number, we were legally eligible for the trade market. Then we started pitching our clients as a legal start-up. With the huge number of orders we receive, we need to show our authenticity as a legal business.
Prakhar – Speaking from the student point of view, if you want to know what is required as a legal start-up, we got ourselves preincubated by the Technology Business Incubator of BPHC. By being preincubated we get the benefit of using the campus as our official business address. For registering your start-up, you can show the same address to Telangana officials.
Piyush – Also, it is not necessary that you always have to register your company. Since we dealt with corporate offices that require authentication we had to do that. But if your start-up is product or application based, initially you won’t sense the need for registering it, but as you start earning and there is some cash flow, you have to register it over time. Since you have to properly document all the transactions, be it from the customer side or your side, your tax fillings will require a legal authentication.
Q:According to you what exactly is the current scenario of start-ups on campus? How does E-CELL and Technology Business Incubator come into picture for the same?
Prakhar: Talking of start-up culture, having witnessed this for the past 3 years on campus being a part of E-CELL, if not disappointing, it certainly has the potential to grow bigger. There is immense calibre in the students but the ideas do not come up in a full-fledged manner due to some or the other fear or constraints. Not that the culture is dead, there have been quite a few people who have come up with good products, like glass cleaning robot, which have been recognized. Basically, E-CELL is the body which can collectively take you through the entire process of ideation, leading to a concept, and finally entering the market. Also, even if a person lacks ideas, E-CELL fulfils its responsibility of organizing requisite talks and workshops for getting insights. E-CELL provides to be a community where you can discuss and brainstorm ideas with like-minded people. Taking into consideration the first edition, Operation Launchpad was really well organized by the team. As far as TBI is concerned, it is open for all inviting ideas and willing to provide any kind of facility that might be necessary.
Q:How do you advise people to cope with their anxiety for launching a product in the market?
Piyush: The first year and the second year too, for a dual degree student, are pretty much easy going, so there’s a lot you can do to explore the market and get hold of it, in the initial years itself. If you’re in BITS, you ought to be amazing at time management. Also, share your ideas with others, talk to the right people, networking is the best thing to enrich your idea. This is a technical college, so even if you don’t know the technical aspects of whatever your product or idea is, you’ll find someone who does and is interested in teaming up with you. So, try to utilize these advantages to a large extent.
Prakhar: Time management is a very crucial thing in any field for that matter. Don’t fall for farces like if you get involved with start-ups, you’ll waste your time. Once you get to realize that there’s scope and you want to do it, everything starts streamlining itself. What is crucial is just pushing yourself and taking the first step with the team, disregarding your preconceived notion of not being good enough to do it.
People have a lot of misconceptions about start-ups. Many of them don’t even know the difference between a business and a start-up. How would you like to clear them?
Piyush: The basic difference between a business and a start-up is that in a business you necessarily do not generate something of your own, you use someone else’s idea to earn money. Start-ups are more creative and innovative where you identify a problem and come out with a solution of your own. Keep the inquisition alive, talk to a lot of people. Listen to them, value their feedback. Try not to make the same mistakes they made.
Q:How did you manage academics with your start-up?
Piyush: Attending most of the morning classes helped a lot. Or rather, there’s a general tendency of start studying one week before the examination, instead start two weeks before and take it slow.
Prakhar: When you’re committed to a start-up, you need to be on the go which does require a certain level of advance preparations.
Taking into account the flexibility our college provides in terms of taking up courses of your choice, what courses do you suggest keeping the inclination towards start-ups in mind?
Prakhar: So, the Economics department offers a course called NVC (New Venture Creation), it helps you to quite an extent. It is a discipline elective for Economics students and an open elective for others. It is a cross-campus course where all the three campuses interact together. It is a very basic course which is really good for beginners.
Piyush: Also, you can take up courses depending upon what field your start-up deals with. However, no classroom course can teach you the execution and implementation of an idea. Field experience is damn important for that.
Thank you Mr. Piyush and Mr. Prakhar for your time and support regarding this. Readers can know more about there startup on their website
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