Kushang Kumar, Co-founder & CEO of SupplyNote, a Food SaaS Startup

Kushang Kumar

Interview with Kushang Kumar, Co-founder & CEO of SupplyNote, a Food SaaS Startup

Kushang Kumar is the founder and CEO of SupplyNote, one of the fastest and most disruptive supply chain technology startup in India.

He is responsible to manage the growth roadmap for the company and also strategize its operations and functioning, firmly ascending towards the aim of automating the supply chain procedures in the restaurant industry and making them more profitable on the backbone of technology.

With a Master’s Degree in IT from IIT Kanpur and an MBA, Kushang embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in 2015 by establishing Adcurp by Adcount Technologies, a web and mobile-enabled platform for restaurants to transact across multiple verticals from a verified vendor base on a daily basis. His association with restaurant businesses let him gain experience and identify gaps in the functioning.

Can you tell us about your background and experience in the food industry and what led you to co-found SupplyNote?

Kushang Kumar: My co-founders and I met at IIT Kanpur in 2011 and started our full-time entrepreneurial journey immediately after graduating in 2015.

We helped brands run trackable below-the-line advertisements — promotion beyond mainstream media — on food packaging items with a product called Adurcup.

Then eventually started delivering food packaging material to restaurants and eateries using our B2B e-commerce platform.

Working closely with these establishments helped us understand the needs of the restaurant business. We realized the problem lay in the procurement process rather than product discovery.

That became the springboard for SupplyNote, which digitizes the procurement process and automates inventory management, digital ordering, payment ledger management, and supplier and product discovery.

With SupplyNote, restaurants can manage inventory, place orders, and uncover sales performance insights to boost the health of their business.

What is the mission of SupplyNote, and how does the company differentiate itself from other food SaaS startups in the market?

Kushang Kumar: SupplyNote is on a mission to digitize the food and beverage industry. We enable and help our customers in the food service business to grow better, scale faster and optimize their costs.

The unique offering of SupplyNote is that it can be integrated with any product that is a part of the supply chain, whether it be a front-end billing software, payment gateway, etc.

Another unique part of SupplyNote is that it’s amongst a few products that focus on increasing the backend efficiency of a food business.   

Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey.

Kushang Kumar: I started my entrepreneurial journey at my college campus. Upon commencing my second year, I found myself surrounded by numerous skilled entrepreneurs who were actively engaged in various minor projects.

Additionally, my involvement in the robotics club at IIT Kanpur provided me with further exposure to these exceptional individuals.

It was a eureka moment for us as a team where we understood that we could solve complex problems together.

Some of us were great at design, some of us would be great at doing the operational bit, some of us were very good at sourcing, and all these different qualities created a wonderful product.

One of the first things we did at IIT Kanpur was a piano-playing robot that got national & international recognition; we have an international paper on it as well.

That was a major confidence booster for us to come together as a group, and of course, as I said, one individual never creates something; it’s always the group. 

I was lucky to find a team in college and then build on this. Secondly, we started experimenting with multiple projects once we were tied as a group.

A couple of projects saw very good success; one was a refrigerator that ran without electricity; again, we won multiple awards in college with this idea and got selected as the youngest team at the GE Edison challenge, again a morale booster for us.

Then in my third and fourth years, we did a project around making incense sticks by converting flower waste in temples and mosques.

That project was aimed at improving the lifestyle of women in rural areas. The project yielded remarkable results, as we received multiple accolades and acknowledgements.

Notably, we were honoured with international recognition, such as being nominated as representatives from India for the prestigious Rolex awards. This achievement served as a significant source of pride for our team.

All of this created the entrepreneurial spark in us as a team. Finally, we did a campaign around advertising at a cultural fest called Antaragni in Delhi University colleges, which eventually became AdCount Technologies, the company we run today.

In the first six months at AdCount Technologies, we were scaling a product called Adurcup which was about doing advertising on collaterals inside restaurants that helped in counting how many people saw an ad, counting impressions, conversions, cost per view, cost per impression, that was what we were trying to achieve in offline BTL marketing.

It got us our first check from Dineout founders, which eventually kicked out our SupplyNote journey.

We scaled that model, stopped the Adurcup model, and became a single point sales sourcing for restaurants in Delhi NCR; we did business with brands like Wow Momos, Devyani International, and whatnot, and we were the go-to company for packaging needs for restaurants in India, especially in the northern part in the next three years.

By 2019 we further evolved to become a SaaS company that solved a complex use case from mid to large-size restaurants, which is what we do today.

We further have restarted our marketplace vertical for small restaurants; today, we present one single stack for procurement needs across small to large-scale restaurants and our solutions power purchases worth 100 million dollars annually for more than 8000 restaurants nationwide. 

Kindly brief us about SupplyNote, its specialization, and its services.

Kushang Kumar: SupplyNote is a supply chain management product for the Food & Beverages Industry. It connects outlets, service providers, and suppliers for a Food Business, allowing them to manage inventory, place orders, and uncover sales performance insights to strengthen their business.

Its strength lies in sorting or fixing a food business’s supply chain by identifying leakages in the profit margins of a restaurant. This way, SupplyNote lowers the cost of operations and translates into higher profits.

How do you work with restaurants and other food service providers to optimize their operations and improve efficiency?

Kushang Kumar: SupplyNote digitizes the procurement process and automates inventory management, digital ordering, payment ledger management, and supplier and product discovery.

With SupplyNote, restaurants can manage inventory, place orders, and uncover sales performance insights to boost the health of their business.

Can you walk us through the various software solutions and tools SupplyNote offers and how they benefit your clients?

Kushang Kumar: SupplyNote offers a range of software solutions and tools designed to address the specific needs of the restaurant industry which include:

Inventory Management: SupplyNote provides an inventory management system that allows restaurants to track their inventory levels in real-time. This helps reduce waste and optimize purchasing, leading to significant cost savings.

Ordering and Purchasing: SupplyNote’s ordering and purchasing system allows restaurants to easily place orders with their suppliers, track deliveries, and manage their invoices. This helps streamline the purchasing process and ensures that restaurants always have the supplies they need.

Recipe Management: SupplyNote’s recipe management system allows restaurants to easily create and manage recipes and track food costs. This helps to ensure consistency in menu items and allows restaurants to make informed pricing decisions.

Reporting and Analytics: SupplyNote provides robust reporting and analytics tools allows restaurants to track their performance metrics, including sales, inventory usage, and food costs. This helps to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.

Integration with POS and Accounting Software: SupplyNote integrates with popular POS and accounting software like Petpooja, Urban Piper, Shopify, and Tally. This helps provide a more complete and seamless solution for restaurant owners and managers already using these tools to manage their businesses.

How do you ensure that your software solutions are easy to use and integrate seamlessly with existing restaurant management systems?

Kushang Kumar: SupplyNote is committed to providing software solutions that are easy to use and seamlessly integrate with existing restaurant management systems.

We achieve this through a combination of API integrations, user-centred design, and comprehensive training and support.

API integrations: We have designed our software with API integrations in mind, which allows us to seamlessly integrate with existing restaurant management systems.

Our APIs are well-documented and easy to implement, making it easy for restaurant staff to access and use our software alongside their existing tools.

User-centred design: Our team follows a user-centred design approach, where we prioritize understanding the needs and workflows of restaurant staff.

By involving them in the design process and conducting user testing, we can ensure that our software solutions are intuitive and easy to use.

Training and support: We understand that learning new software can be challenging, so we provide comprehensive training and support to all our customers.

Our team is always available to answer questions and provide guidance, ensuring restaurant staff can easily adopt and use our software solutions.

What challenges do you anticipate in the food industry over the next 5-10 years, and how is SupplyNote positioning itself to address them?

Kushang Kumar: India’s F&B industry is currently experiencing a vibrant phase of growth. With approximately one million restaurants in the organized sector, the industry is on its way to recovering from the impact of COVID-19 and getting back on track.

The market size stands at around $60 billion, and we are witnessing an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8 to 10% from a post-recovery perspective.

Looking ahead, the industry is poised to witness the emergence of numerous restaurant chains, which is a noteworthy trend.

The chain segment is growing at a CAGR of about 22%, outpacing the growth rate of standalone establishments.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for expansion and development. Standardization will play a pivotal role in the restaurant sector, particularly in terms of sourcing raw materials, minimizing losses, and strengthening the bottom line. Restaurateurs in India are also committed to delivering exceptional consumer experiences.

In the next decade, digital transformation will significantly impact the industry’s back-end operations and the entire supply chain.

This will drive disruptions and innovation. Brands like Chaios, Chai Point, and McDonald’s will expand their presence in tier 3 and tier 4 towns, facilitated by a robust supply chain.

Considering the population density, China remains a market 16 times larger than India. Therefore, the growth potential lies primarily in tier 2, tier 3, and tier 4 towns, where consumer demand is increasing.

It is crucial to establish a well-functioning supply chain in these areas to sustain the growth of the food industry in the coming decades.

In nutshell, I anticipate significant developments in the Indian F&B industry over the next 5 to 10 years, characterized by expansion, standardization, digital adaptation, and a focus on tier 2, tier 3, and tier 4 towns to drive growth.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the food industry and incorporate them into your software solutions and offerings?

Kushang Kumar: I live day and night in the industry. I have been in the industry for almost 7-8 years. So I get the privilege of interacting with the industry leaders on and off over direct and customer calls, meeting them at events, and even studying insightful articles by industry experts.

To broaden my perspective, I closely follow developed markets such as the US, Japan, Singapore, and China.

I observe how they tackle critical scalability issues, which helps me gain valuable insights into the challenges unique to the Indian market.

These challenges are a customized version of complexities, and understanding them is instrumental in our approach.

When it comes to product development, we place great importance on feedback from entrepreneurs and consider various edge cases they have experienced or anticipate.

Esteemed brands like Biryani by Kilo, Naturals, and others have played a crucial role in shaping our solutions.

We continue to incorporate their insights and feedback, driving incremental improvements in our offerings.

As the co-founder, along with my dedicated product team, we engage in brainstorming sessions to deliver the best possible solutions that address the specific problem sets faced by our future consumers.

What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur?

Kushang Kumar: My motivation for becoming an entrepreneur stems from my family background. Growing up in a middle-class household, I witnessed the struggles of living paycheck to paycheck.

Both my parents, like my co-founders, are government employees, and our humble backgrounds have shaped our entrepreneurial journey.

The inspiration to solve a critical problem struck us during our college years at IIT Kanpur. As a team, we found a platform to explore our ideas.

We were fortunate to have interactions with senior students who had just embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys.

We had the privilege of meeting the founding team of InMobi, one of India’s first unicorns, and we have maintained connections with the founders of ShareChat and other successful entrepreneurs from our campus.

This early exposure to entrepreneurship fueled our aspirations. The combination of the platform we had, the inspiration we gained, and our middle-class backgrounds propelled us to pursue what we do today.

Entrepreneurs possess essential problem-solving skills, persistence, and a deep desire to tackle significant challenges.

These qualities were inherent in our team, and I personally carried the ambition to make a positive impact on society while also creating wealth. Entrepreneurship provided the opportunity to fulfil both goals simultaneously. 

What advice would you give to a new food industry professional looking to incorporate technology into their operations and improve efficiency?

Kushang Kumar: For any aspiring professional aiming to make a mark in the food industry, I highly recommend understanding the intricacies of revenue generation and profit margins at the bottom line.

To achieve this, the implementation of technology is crucial. It is essential to have billing software integrated with a robust order management system for online ordering, an efficient catalogue management system, effective controls on omnichannel sales, and a comprehensive understanding of your customers through loyalty programs. These factors play a significant role in customer-facing operations.

On the backend, it is imperative to drive the bottom line through technology rather than relying solely on experience.

By combining experience with meticulous data management, you can achieve efficiency in your business model, paving the way for scalability.

The less you depend on human resources, the faster you can scale your business. Therefore, I strongly recommend developing early habits of inventory tracking once you establish your location.

Make purchasing decisions based on data analysis, establish a strong correlation between sales and purchases, and ensure these processes are system-oriented.

Incorporating excellent billing software, implementing inventory management software, utilizing the insights from these systems to guide your purchasing decisions, employing a multi-dimensional approach for vendor selection, and consistently tracking and analyzing this information will provide long-term benefits as you scale your business. 

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Kushang Kumar: Success means different to every individual, so I’ll share whatever I have learnt so far.

First and foremost, it is highly crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs to be intimately connected to the problem you are trying to solve.

Identify and prioritize the right problems and consistently work towards addressing them. Stay close to the consumers to gain a deep understanding of their needs and challenges.

Maintain a persistent mindset when it comes to finding solutions, and actively drive your go-to-market strategy rather than waiting for it to naturally materialize.

In my view, success lies in achieving the right product-market fit (PMF) and effectively executing the go-to-market (GTM) strategy.

If you can crack these two components, the subsequent challenges, though different, become more manageable and are often related to capital and execution.

Therefore, focus on finding your PMF, concentrate on it, stay connected to your consumers, remain grounded as a founder, invest in people, build a strong team, and cultivate the right culture within your company.

By doing so, you will increase the likelihood of finding a successful GTM and driving meaningful solutions.

Remember, success is a journey that requires continuous effort and adaptation. Stay committed to your goals, learn from failures, and embrace a growth mindset.

With perseverance and a customer-centric approach, you can pave the way for achieving your entrepreneurial aspirations.

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