I had been planning to blog about our journey for a while. Just that we were swamped running our business and hence could not find time to put my thoughts on our current journey till now with Organic Sphere.
In 2014 while transitioning from another high tech business venture, we wanted to build a commercial network of buyers and suppliers. With buyers in North America and suppliers in India and the subcontinent. In a way, our vision was to build a more economical, viable and useful than the platforms available then.
We even presented the idea in a couple of startup pitch fests in Bangalore, India and also won the competitions. But then it was short lived. Encouraged by the positive responses, we spent next few months building the software platform. The idea we had needed immediate investments in sales, marketing, and onboarding customers.
We required field staff to educate clients and teach them to use the platform. From a competition standpoint, we had Indiamart who was operating for over a decade. Whether their model worked or not for the business suppliers in India, they had the brand value, and every angel and seed investors compared us to them and decided that we would not stand a chance. Meanwhile, on the ground, we had signed few paid customers (sellers in India) who were interested in our approach.
Now the pressure was to find business opportunities for the customers. We were able to some business inquiries for the sellers on the platform, but we knew the model needed the capital infusion to create buzz. We were in a status quo mode not sure of the path forward.
In Feb 2016 met a friend and shared the website link and sought his advice. He runs cricket clubs in Houston. The cricket clubs included for adults and kids (under ten, under twelve, under fourteen), etc., He suggested to focus on cricket uniforms, equipment, and gears. He even helped us with first few orders. Cricket business was seasonal and scaling up was challenging since volumes were not building up. Without masses, sourcing products at lower cost and shipping to the US were expensive customers were not willing to pay higher prices.
To keep us going, we were paying higher rates and getting products from India through FedEx and DHL. During one of the shipments, our India operations head Kiran sent us homemade spices and mixtures. This was perhaps the most critical point in our journey. Initially was quite apprehensive about spices and mixes since Indians could easily get such products from local Indian or other ethnic groceries or even larger retail chain like Walmart, Krogers, and HEB in Houston.