Today India is the Fastest growing country in the world, among the developing countries with the highest growth rate. India will continue to grow fast not only by the government policies, but we have few entrepreneurs who are doing really great & extra ordinary effort to make it happen.
Among the few entrepreneurs, we have Pawan Gupta – Founder & CEO, Connect2India.
Here is a chat with The CEO Magazine and Mr. Pawan.
1. When did you conceive of this idea, what was the trigger of making this idea happen?
Though I come from a strong techno-business background, with B.Tech Hon’s degree in Electronics & Communication Engineering from NIT Kurukshetra, and have worked for Fortune 100 companies and customers, I always have been passionate about global trade as well. My father was head of exports for a reputed steel company in Delhi-NCR and that started my tryst with global trade. It was very exciting to understand how companies in different countries are able to successfully trade with each other!
I founded a global trade and consulting company couple of years back and led the global consulting arm of Eximat, U.K to achieve SUN and IBM Advanced Business Partner status and the global trade venture arm successfully facilitated multi-million dollar recurring trade for and between reputed business entities across the world. Some of our clients were Barrick, U.S, the largest gold mining company in the world; Afepasa, Spain; Birla Group; Oriental Carbons, part of J.P Goenka Group of companies; Kutch Chemicals and many more. It was here I understood the nuances, risk, complexities and challenges of global trade.
In 2009-2011, I did my MBA from London Business School and the thesis for my MBA was based on “making global sourcing effective and efficient”. In my technology leadership roles, I have used technology to solve real world business problems and have always been passionate about leveraging the power of technology to enable great business outcomes. In my thesis, I applied the same concept in the global trade domain to analyze how technology could be used to make global trade safe, simple and smart.
After my MBA, I joined as a portfolio CTO of Trilogy / Versata Enterprises, one of the largest privately held Enterprise software companies in the world with focus on 100% customer success.
Around mid 2015, I decided to start my global trade company again based on the positive policy initiatives from the government to encourage exports from India with the USD 900 Billion Exports target by 2020. At that time, the plan was to start a global trade consulting firm similar to Eximat.
And this is when it all changed With my background in trade and technology, I had hoped to get started and be running quickly with my new global trade consulting company, however, I found it really difficult to get started. Finding and qualifying the trade counterpart was still a major challenge and there was no single stop source where I could get the end-2-end export related insights and information for India. Overall, it was a very risky and complex proposition to start your global trade business in India without access to all the relevant information.
I realized that global trade in India has not really evolved with time and advancements in technology, and that there was a big gap which has never been addressed. If with my trade and technology background, I was finding it difficult to start global trade; I could assume how difficult it would be for those MSMEs with no or little background in this area. I realized probably that’s the biggest reason that out of 51 million MSMEs in India, only around 1 million actively exports.
That’s how Connect2India was born in July 2015, with vision of becoming the most trusted one stop global trade source for India, enabling Indian SMEs to effectively export from India and Overseas SMEs to effectively trade with India. I, however, rather than focusing only on one aspect of the problem, decided to develop a broader strategy of solving end to end problem for enabling “trade with” and “trade from” India.
I believe the timing was also great for our venture with basic infrastructure in terms of connectivity, speed, reliability either present or in progress in India and host of initiatives from Government such as Digital India, Make in India and Skills India, which I believe are enabler for our venture.
The venture provides us an opportunity to make a large scale difference and positively impact millions of MSMEs in India by providing real business value.
I would like to mention that this venture not only allows me to pursue and live my passion, trade and technology, but at the same time also contribute to India’s global growth and success story in a big way. We are redefining the way global trade will be done in years to come and I believe the venture has potential to allow India to be at the center of global trade and that continues to keep me motivated.
2. How does the Connect2India integrated global trade platform work? How do I use your platform and for what?
The global trade, in general, is risky and complex and the global trade with and from developing nations like India even more. Further, all these challenges, risks and complexities amplify in case of MSMEs because of lack of knowledge, and access to relevant information. This is one of the main reasons that out of 51 million MSMEs in India, only a handful are into global trade.
Connect2India directly addresses the pain points of risk & complexity in global trade. We offer an integrated trade platform to make trade safe and easy, enabling Indian SMEs to effectively scale globally and Overseas SMEs to effectively trade with Indian SMEs.
As an example, an SME will use the platform in following way for starting or growing its exports:
- What to export – Start by using the historical, real-time and detailed global trade analytics and insights available on the platform to find out the right product to export overseas.
- Where to export – Find the right overseas markets to target for the products they wish to export by using the worldwide trade intelligence available on the platform.
- What price to export – Figure out the optimum price for exports with access to real-time export price trends for the products.
- Whom to export – Get access to genuine overseas importers who have been importing these products and also get access to their trade history to target the most relevant ones.
- How to export – Get help with exports facilitation by reaching out to expert export service providers to help facilitate exports and get access to export resources, tools and utilities and our network of global trade agents. Also, get a global presence on the platform with its own holistic view and trade history, for overseas SMEs looking for exporters to reach out to them directly.
We provide the complete trade intelligence, market analysis, competitive insights and verified trade counterparts for products and I believe these would help companies to make faster, smarter and better decisions (backed by genuine, verified and real-time data and analytics)
Connect2India’s integrated platform has following major components to ensure micro-to-macro level coverage of all global trade and business requirements for MSMEs:-
1. Global trade platform (global.connect2india.com) – for catalyzing the international trade, equipped with expert trade data, analytics, intelligence, insights, tools and utilities, to expand Indian’s SMEs business globally and to expand overseas SMEs trade with India. Our global offerings include:
- Holistic view and detailed profiles of verified overseas importers (for Indian SMEs) and of verified Indian buyers & suppliers (for Overseas SMEs)
- Competitive insights with access to detailed analysis and trade intelligence
- Real time global export demand & real time export price trends
- Expert trade tools and comprehensive trade resources
2. Global Inspection platform – providing a single stop source for a complete and comprehensive company information and inspection, to enable business with confidence. With this platform, we offer:
- Access to verified company details, with a thorough due diligence done.
- Track of company’s authenticity, via our own Media Fraud Detector.
- End-2-end inspection services with network of third party inspection agencies.
3. Global presence platform (digital.connect2india.com) – for providing unique digital transformation to encourage Indian MSMEs and professionals via e-ready and mobile-ready business products and resources, to have a great global brand, global presence and online & mobile footprint. Some of our core offerings include:
- Major digital transformation of business with business mobile app
- An end-2-end monitoring, analysis & evangelizing of online business
- Innovative global presence & promotion and expansion to larger customer base
4. Global Trade Resources portal – for facilitating with all the necessary information and details related to global or country-specific trade resources, trade agreements, acts and policies.
3. Who is your competition and how different are you from them, please explain.
The main differentiator is our integrated platform itself that offers a unique & innovative approach to make trade safe, simple & smart with advanced data sciences, analytics and technology.
- Holistic view – Unified view of companies’ profile built and augmented from multiple data sources
- Trade Intelligence – Company trade history obtained and cross checked from genuine data sources
- Fraud Detection – Confirm existence of companies manufacturing facilities through our proprietary technology algorithm
- External Inspection – Build trust in chosen trade counterpart with third party inspection services and reports.
- Competitive Insights – Get real time market demand and price trends based on intelligent data analytics
- Multi-Channel Customer acquisition – Find new customers for your business using our multiple channels.
- Global Transformation – Get global presence, branding and promotion required for global trade with automated digital offerings.
- Smart Trade Partner Match – Get most relevant search result for your requirements considering large parameters.
4. How big a company are you in terms of people and revenues?
We initially did a beta launch of the platform for overseas SMEs and the platform was fully launched for Indian and overseas SMEs around end of April 2016. We currently have 27,000+ registered users and around 40,000 unique business visitors / per day with 100% recent month-on-month growth. Further, we have 5.5 million+ listed businesses, 6 million+ rows of real-time trade data, around 44k+ Facebook followers, 1.5 million+ Google Indexed pages with top ranking for 1000s of global trade keywords.
Our focus in first couple of months after platform launch was to get users feedback and incorporate it back to the platform and have started focusing on the revenue in last few months. We plan to become operationally profitable by the end of this quarter. We currently are a 10 member team.
5. What is the future of your business opportunity, how fast are you scaling up in the market?
There are around 51 million MSMEs in India, out of which a very small proportion has a global presence and an even smaller proportion exports. Further, it is difficult for overseas SMEs to trade with India because of the challenges and complexities associated, so today only a very small percentage of the global SMEs participate in trade with India. The market and the opportunity are huge as this is a completely unaddressed need.
Additionally, we are enabling global trade entreprenuship for trade professionals by providing them end-2-end global trade offerings, which in itself is a huge market.
6. What are your present and future focus areas?
The single most important focus of Connect2India since the start has been on providing ‘value’. That is the basic foundation of our company, engrained in our DNAs and that is what all of us at connect2india strives towards delivering.
The one thing I have remembered very well from my MBA at London Business School is to focus on value and everything else will take care of itself. This was the advice our marketing professor gave at the end of the last session of our marketing core course and I have tried to follow that ever since.
So, be it our users, customers, employees, partners, we focus on providing them a real tangible ‘value’ and this has been our success mantra. We believe, in the end, what matters is whether your product really adds value to your customers and do you have strong business fundamentals to achieve that.
We are taking a sustainable and holistic approach of solving end to end problem to increase global trade from India by enabling, simplifying and evangelizing the complete global trade ecosystem in India, with strong value proposition for all key players in the global trade segment.
- Indian MSMEs – enabling and empowering them to start and grow exports from India
- Overseas SMEs – providing them a one stop source to set-up business and trade with Indian SMEs
- Trade Professionals – enabling and encouraging global trade entrepreneurship
- Students – making them “global trade” industry ready
With our global trade venture, we infact are contributing to all the leading Government initiatives of Make in India, Digital India, Skills India and Startup India.
The other thing we truly focus on is keeping things simple. “Simplicity is bedrock of everything that we do here at Connect2India”. We want to enable extremely sophisticated trade functionality but even that is presented in easy to use manner.
We continue to innovative our platform to add value to our users and customers, make it even easier for them to access and use the platform, and expand the platform reach nationally and internationally in the coming months.
7. How do you position yourself in the domain? How do you amalgamate latest technology with business objectives?
Connect2India’s vision is to be most trusted single stop global trade source for India, both for Indian SMEs and overseas SMEs looking to trade with India. It aims to provide a sustainable competitive advantage to customers’ business with access to its smart & integrated global trade platform with unique and innovative end-2-end global trade offerings.
Connect2india offers business value realization in the form of tangible business products, as the final deliverables to its customers. It assists Indian MSMEs to attain a competitive edge on a global scale with a smart analytics-driven global trade engine.
As an integrated platform, we focus on our core principles, as ultimate business objectives of making global trade simple, safe and smart.
8. What are the challenges faced by you and your company?
The initial challenge was to build a high performance scalable platform capable of handling, processing and analyzing millions of rows of data, and then being agile to respond to customer’s feedback, bringing out new versions and effectively marketing the platform to engage the users.
Given our platform is first of its kind providing complete holistic value in global trade, customers take time to assimilate value and engage fully with the platform.
9. What are the pain points the startup solves?
Finding and qualifying trade counterparts is the biggest challenge in global trade, and especially in global trade from and with developing nations. Further, in absence of any trade intelligence and detailed trade analytics, the cost of identifying the wrong target product, country or trade counterparts in global trade is really high. Additionally, even if all of these are correctly identified, initiating, facilitating and executing global trade without access to relevant trade resources, information, trade service providers etc. is nearly impossible. There is no holistic solution for global trade and global visibility. The existing solutions are tactical, manual, expensive and prone to error with no focus on sustained or strategic growth.
Connect2India addresses all above pain points by providing a single stop global trade source for India with end to end global trade offerings.
10. Brief details of the founder Pawan Gupta – Founder & CEO
Pawan provides strategic direction, business planning and market & industry leadership at Connect2India. He has successful track record of building business grounds up in diverse sectors including global trade, technology consulting and e-Business products.
Pawan brings extensive years of experience and expertise to his company. Carrying a hardcore techno-business background, Pawan is a rare combo, passionate for technology as well as international trade. Pawan founded Connect2India to break the barriers and alleviate the roadblocks in the MSME segment. He has a successful track record of building business grounds up in diverse sectors including global trade, technology consulting and e-Business products.
Pawan holds an MBA degree from London Business School and Bachelors of Electronics and Communication from NIT, Kurukshetra. In the past, he led his company ‘Eximat Ltd’ to achieve SUN and IBM Advanced Business Partner status and the global trade arm successfully facilitated multi-million dollar global trade worldwide.
For more info Please Visit : www.connect2india.com