Aequm Pte Pvt. Ltd, a Singapore- and Bangalore-based firm that offers a cloud e-commerce platform for the unorganised retail sector, has secured $1 million (Rs 6.4 crore) in seed funding from undisclosed investors, a person familiar with the development said.
The company will use the funds to expand its operations, Joydeep Dutt, chief operating officer of Aequm, confirmed the development to VCCircle without revealing any further information.
The Bangalore arm of Mumbai-based law firm Juris Corp acted as adviser to Aequm, with Arunabh Choudhary, partner at the law firm, Sumitava Basu, senior associate, and Arjun Rastogi, associate leading the transaction.
Aequm Pte Pvt Ltd was established in March 2017 by Dutt, Alok Jayant (chief executive) and Sandeep Mahapatra (head of sales). It offers unorganised brick-and-mortar retailers a common cloud platform and provides them a mobile application and an enhanced point-to-sale (POS) system to cater to their end consumers. The company, which also operates under the brand name 99RetailStreet, runs its India operations from Bangalore, where it also has a research and development team, which comprises of 40 employees. Aequm’s online platform also integrates other players in the retail ecosystem such as brand manufacturers and payments platforms like Visa and MasterCard and mobile wallets. When a consumer purchases a product stock keeping unit (SKU), a real-time update about the sale goes to the brand manufacturer. Aequm charges its customers on the basis of modules used by incumbents such as retailers, banks, and manufacturers.
Besides this, the company provides other services such as assisting retailers with working capital and other financial products.
“We try to make unorganised retailers think about the capabilities of the bigger retail chains. Through our tech offering, we try to streamline in real time the reporting systems comprising the daily sales inventories for the retailer. For retail brands and manufacturers, this helps [put in place] an efficient supply chain management, forecasting, sales, distribution and marketing,” said Dutt.
An IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, Dutt has over 18 years of experience across sectors spanning FMCG, retail and commodities. He has earlier worked at Ernst & Young and Accenture. An IIM Bangalore alumnus, Jayant has spent a major part of his professional career at SAP India across the retail, CPG (consumer product goods) and e-commerce verticals and handled the South Indian and Sri Lankan markets. Mahapatra is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus and has also spent an extensive part of his career at SAP India across the same verticals as Jayant. In his earlier professional stints, he has worked at Accenture, IBM and HCL Technologies.
99RetailStreet has launched its solutions in Sri Lanka and claims to have on-boarded reputed business conglomerates like Hemas Holdings PLC, the Sri Lankan arm of British consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser, and commercial banks like Sampath Bank PLC as part of its customer base.
Presently, Aequm is in no hurry to expand into other markets, including India, and will evolve its expansion strategy based on the success of its Sri Lankan operations, which Dutt expects to break even within FY18.
“Sri Lanka is a large retail market by itself and we happen to have a good network of contacts. Hence, it made sense for us to launch there first. Our India foray will depend on how the Sri Lankan operations pan out. We adopt a global approach as far as expansion goes,” said Dutt, refusing to divulge details on the company’s next port of call.
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