Bangalore-based Quarto India Internet Pvt. Ltd that operates curated online marketplace for used books AbeRuk has raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding from Hong Kong-based Swastika Company Pvt Ltd, a top company executive told VCCircle.
The funding will be used for scaling up operations, expanding seller base and augmenting the technology backbone, said Sidharth Shankar, co-founder, AbeRuk.
“India is a fragmented market when it comes to used books. The traditional nooks for old books are seeing lesser footfalls with buyers increasingly resorting to the online model,” said Shankar.
The startup was founded in December 2015 by Shankar, who previously worked with Toyota, along with Sidharth Kumar, who earlier worked with Schneider Electric.
According to Shankar, the idea behind the venture surfaced when he faced problems while trying to buy old books at an affordable price.
“I am an avid reader and finding books at a cheap price was always a problem for me due to lack of an organised online platform,” said Shankar.
AbeRuk onboards bulk sellers of used books on to its platform after a quality check. Users can look for books under eight categories—educational and professional, entrance examinations, literature and fiction, children and teen, comic and graphic novels, business and management, biographies and autobiographies and history and politics. AbeRuk also supplies out-of-print books on demand.
Once the order is placed, AbeRuk delivers the book at the customer’s doorstep. It claims to be delivering books across India, except a few places in the North East.
While there is no on-boarding cost for sellers, the startup charges a 10-12% margin on every book sold through its platform. Currently over 50 wholesale book sellers from Bangalore and Delhi are on its platform.
The online marketplace offers used books at an average discount of 40%.
“At the start of 2015, there were 9,000 book publishers and the number doubled to 18,000 by the middle of the year and not every book is a best seller. Most books go to warehouse sale or the used book market,” said Shankar.
According to Shankar, the market potential for books in India is $4 billion and this figure is expected to reach $12 billion by 2020. Of this, used books comprise 25-28% of the market share.
While used books remain its focus, AbeRuk also supplies new books and offers over 1 lakh titles through exclusive tie-ups with 200 sellers. The startup has also tied up with 700 other publishers through a distributor-tie-up model. The company charges a 20-22% margin for sale of new books.
Going forward, the startup, which has six employees, plans to introduce a peer-to-peer (P2P) sales model wherein any customer can post books for sale after registering on the platform.
Currently, it is in talks with investors to raise its next round of funding.
“We can sustain for the next seven-eight months and hope to secure the next round of funding within the next couple of months. A few investors have already shown interest,” said Shankar.
Other recent investments of Swastika Company include Gurgaon-based on-demand concierge startup Qlivery, restaurant deals startup Pocketin and Gurgaon-based beauty and wellness startup Stylofie.
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