India

7-week-old Opinio in India bags $1.3 million

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The list of hyperlocal on-demand delivery startups in India grows longer all the time. Grofers, RoadRunnr, PepperTap, ZopNow, and now, Opinio, which today announced seed funding of US$1.3 million from Accel Partners, TracxnLabs, and angels. All are raising funds fast, and growing even faster.

PepperTap raised US$10 million in April, just two days after its southern rival ZopNow got an identical round of funding. Their elder brother Grofers raised US$35 million earlier in the same month. More recently, RoadRunnr raised US$11 million, and several other younger upstarts have also raided rounds.

Bigger fish are in the pool too: ride-hailing app Ola launched a grocery delivery service last week, and Amazon came out with KiranaNow earlier. (Mom-and-pop stores are called kirana shops in India.) Sounds like trouble for the newbies in a crowded space? Not quite, and here’s why.

No, one size doesn’t fit all

india shopkeeper
india shopkeeper

Mom-and-pop stores abound in India like nowhere else in the world. India has over 13 million retail outlets, the highest number for any country. India also has the highest number of retail outlets (11,903) per million inhabitants. Restrictions on FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail have kept the big global supermarket chains out of India, so the small retailers thrive in a relatively protected environment.

Culture has played a part in the proliferation of small independent shops too – there was always somebody at home in large multi-generational Indian households to run an errand to the shop around the corner. This personal connection with the local grocer has continued even though families are becoming nuclear in the metro cities and ecommerce is gaining ground.

The growth of mobile ecommerce and the proliferation of independent retailers in India are why investors see potential in a range of last mile logistics startups like Opinio. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for getting small merchants scattered across a large country to use tech for efficient local delivery, so there’s likely space in the market for a number of logistics and delivery players to operate, with each developing its own set of clients.

delivery logistics
delivery logistics

That can be easier said than done. “Initially, there is a resistence to use technology because these guys [small independent retailers] find it difficult to comprehend at the first go,” Opinio co-founder and CEO Mayank Kumar tells Tech in Asia. “But if you assist them, enable them in the early days, they will stick to you.”

In fact, Kumar says, if you can get them to give it a try, chances are they’ll sign up:

You might have heard this factoid about Facebook that it realized if any person has 13 friends on Facebook, they won’t leave Facebook. Similarly, we realized that if a merchant uses our technology for three to seven days, he is in for a long haul with us.

Optimizing for the ‘ground pilots’

Opinio founding team- Anurag Ranjan, Abhinav Jain, Lokesh Jangid, Mayank Kumar, Dilip Verma, and Saurabh Shinde
Opinio founding team- Anurag Ranjan, Abhinav Jain, Lokesh Jangid, Mayank Kumar, Dilip Verma, and Saurabh Shinde

Opinio is in its seventh week of operations and processing 1,000+ orders a day in seven areas of Bangalore. It aims to expand to other cities within a month.

Kumar, who is a computer science grad from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, says technology will be the differentiator in this space. “The companies which will eventually win this market will be those who are building technology, not the operations-focused ones. You really need to have a scalable technology.”

Opinio has algorithms to drive down the turnaround time for its “ground pilots” (delivery staff). How many orders to assign to a pilot, in what order he should tackle them, who are the most efficient ones, what is the least number of people required to fulfil a certain quantity of orders while ensuring the quality of service – “there are any number of variables which will help us optimize delivery and we’re thinking through all of them in parallel,” says Kumar.

With 10 of his team members, including co-founder Lokesh Jangid, being from IIT Kanpur, and 40 others from top engineering colleges, Kumar feels confident about being able to strengthen Opinio’s logistics tech product following this seed funding.

Only yesterday, another Bangalore based startup, Locus, announced seed funding for its delivery automation software. But unlike Opinio, Locus does not fulfill orders; it provides its tool to other logistics companies to streamline their deliveries.

About Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The SupplyChains Magazine editorial team takes great pride in bringing you the best information to help you succeed in your supply chain, logistics or procurement functions. Together, our editors and contributors have more than 50 years of supply chain industry knowledge to share with you.

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