SME Digest India speaks to Manesh Jain, the Founder of ProcurePack, a cloud-based e-procurement software suite, about his company and his entrepreneurial journey
Please tell us something about ProcurePack?
ProcurePack is an e-procurement software solution provider that helps organizations automate their procurement processes. With increasing product/process complexity, availability of new vendors/channels, tight timelines and constant pressure to enhance savings, using an e-procurement solution has become inevitable.
Managing the process manually is neither efficient nor transparent. Sourceweb offers software solutions and services to conduct end to end procurement online, covering activities like supplier registration, purchase requisition management, RFP/RFQ/Tender management, reverse and forward auctions, PO and contract management etc.
We also offer value added services like Spend analysis, Vendor assessment, Category specific market research etc.
Established in 2012, ProcurePack now boasts of clients like Samsung, Amcorp, etc and is getting good traction. We also launched our cloud services recently wherein anyone can register and use the services and pay on per event basis. This is specifically useful for SMEs who don’t have sizable spend but would still like to use e-procurement tools for their big ticket purchase.
How was the idea behind the company conceived?
Before ProcurePack, I was working as a supply chain consultant with IBM and during my tenure there, I developed interest in building solutions in extra enterprise space i.e. tools that help organizations interact with other organizations like suppliers, distributors, franchisee, etc. Upon initial research, e-procurement emerged as an area which was not well served and promised very high growth potential.
Quickly the specifications were created and MVP was launched in a period of 4 months. The product received good response and subsequently, several features and modules were included and the product was built into an end to end e-procurement solution.
Who are involved in this project apart from you?
All the activities are done in-house with technical expertise sought from experienced consultants whenever required. The product team spearheads the functional aspects like defining product features as per market needs and the technology team executes design, development, testing and deployment of solution. The sales and marketing team works on client engagement, content creation and brand building.
Please tell us about the initial days, the idea, the funding, setting up the company and so on.
The period from launch of MVP till first big client was challenging. Enterprise application sales in India is a bit tricky and sales cycles are long. At times, decision making takes 8-10 months.
It’s easy to loose patience in that duration since one doesn’t see the conversions and starts questioning the idea itself. Persistence is the key to success in such cases and output comes in chunks. The core team focused on building pipeline & creating awareness and consistent efforts resulted in getting the first big order.
Samsung Electronics chose Procurepack, the e-procurement solution from Sourceweb, and that provided the big break and validation we were looking for. The solution is now live at Samsung for about 10 months and has generated immense savings across various categories.
The company was bootstrapped with funding from friends and family and remain so till now. The team is very passionate about what we are building and are driven by the zeal to create a world class product that can take-on existing global e-procurement solution providers.
Who is the target audience?
The product value prop is equally compelling for large organizations as well as SMEs. While large organization look at e-procurement as a process automation and productivity improvement transformational initiative, SME and small organizations look at it as a tool for realizing immediate savings, establishing controls and bringing transparency to purchase process is something required by any organization.
Moreover, the cloud model enables clients to use the tool only for large events where automation really provides value and they can taste success before committing any long term investment.
What sort of investment was infused into the company? Has the company broken even?
A total investment of about $200,000 has been done till now, most of it towards building the product. Break-even is expected in Q4 of FY 2014-2015.
What is your revenue source?
License and subscription charges from clients is the primary source of revenue (around 40%) while value added services also contribute a significant chunk. Implementation services for large clients is another revenue source.
What is the USP of ProcurePack’s products and solutions?
Traditionally e-procurement systems have been difficult to use and deployment was a time-consuming process. Getting suppliers onboard to participate in online e-procurement events was biggest hurdle.
Our e-procurement solution ‘Procurepack’ is a very intuitive and no-nonsense solution that enables executing entire purchase cycle in a very simple and controlled fashion.
Wizard based flows, comments and tool tips, guided actions, automate comparison reports, etc makes the process seamless so that buyer can focus on purchase activity instead of documentation making the role more tactical than operational.
With tool taking care of reminders, notifications, deadlines, etc a buyer can put his time on getting better rates and establishing better vendor relationships instead of getting tied-up in non-productive tasks like follow-ups, creating comparison reports, etc. Another big differentiator is the product configurability to address various business scenarios across multiple verticals.
Also, ProcurePack is one-of-its kind cloud solution with basic version offered to users for free without any limitation on duration or no. of users or no. of events.
What are your future plans for ProcurePack?
ProcurePack will now focus on making itself into a freemium e-procurement tool with basic features required to execute an event offered for free with option to move to premium version when desired.
Simultaneously, field sales team will be strengthened to focus on corporate customers and building partnerships to expand reach into other geographies across the globe. While product will remain on core of the company’s strategy, more value added services will be added to the existing portfolio.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Do your research well, choose something promising and then give your 100%. Focus in the key. If you are doing multiple things together, they are bound to fail due to lack of focus.
Entrepreneurship is more about execution than idea. Also, keep you belief intact in testing times and you will see results sooner or later. Just remember, 90% of projects fail just when success is on other side of the wall.