Interview: Mr. Ankit Jain and Mr. Sumit Bhatia, Co Founders of Aksum Trademart – A Disrupter in Supply Chain Universe
The pandemic not only reinforced the need for supply chain resiliency but also highlighted that meeting new consumer expectations to deliver personalized products and services with a greater sense of responsibility and sustainability, demand completely new digital architecture and ways of working.
More and more companies are turning to external suppliers to manage their logistics processes to improve speed, visibility, and accuracy across the supply chain.
This allows organizations to devote their time and effort on enhancing their main activity. A new age supply chain as a service (SCaaS) start-up Aksum Trademart promises to solve inventory management challenges and deliver operational efficiencies for SMEs in sectors like steel, infrastructure and construction.
The company is solving common challenges for sellers—streamlining complex operations and liberating them from storage concerns and accounting gaps in inventory.
About Confounders :
Bhatia is experienced in building businesses from scratch and building teams to achieve growth objectives.
His career spans 22 years with wide ranging experience of creating, managing, growing, and diversifying business with focus on people development, stability, and operational excellence.
His last position held (2011-2022) was as Senior Vice-President-Business Operations with India’s first B2B platform – Power2SME Private Limited.
Jain is an IIT Graduate with over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur and at various management positions across strategy, operations and corporate finance.
He has major sectoral experience in steel, mining, financial and e-commerce has worked as CEO for last five years in a steel conglomerate with INR 2000 Cr turnover.
He previously co-founded ASKMEGROCERY.COM in e-commerce space and scaled up the start-up from a 10-member team to 3000+ employees across 35+ cities.
Also, he has worked in SBI Capital Markets Ltd for seven years in debt syndication, M&A, bid advisory, among others.
In an exclusive interview with Sugarmint, Mr. Ankit Jain and Mr. Sumit Bhatia their entrepreneurial journey as an entrepreneur.
What was the idea behind starting Aksum?
Ankit Jain : Working on the other side of the table in our previous roles, we identified the inefficiencies in the supply chain management and hence decided to address the issue for MSMEs and the aligned sectors.
We decided to work on a model which can solve this core problem being faced by almost each corporate irrespective of its size in supply side of B2B.
The magnitude is greater when we go towards SME/ MSME side of the spectrum. Further, B2B is highly unorganized having negligible transparency and inefficient processes around it.
Thus, we want to become the market disrupter by organizing this segment with standard operating procedures and bringing in efficiencies across the value chain.
What is your mission and vision at the outset ?
Ankit Jain: We are specializing in SCaaS which is in its nascent stage and is gaining importance in the Indian business ecosystem.
There is very less data available in the public domain, but since the B2B industry in India is larger than USD 500 billion, the opportunities are immense to disrupt this area.
Every corporate wants to make the supply chain efficient, but there are no tools available to do so. Because, this requires deep domain knowledge, hands-on experience and building standardization across unorganized processes, which has to be leveraged on a technology enabled platform.
What made you choose this business ?
Sumit Bhatia: SMEs and Corporates require sufficient flexibility in their supply chain processes by developing a framework that helps them plan and execute their procurement operations and working capital management in a more efficient manner.
This will reduce cost and ultimately increase their profit margin and become more competitive. Even the largest of the companies want to leverage the efficiencies of SCaaS by outsourcing some aspects of their supply chain.
What are the key things to consider before starting a start up ?
Sumit Bhatia: As per our experience, the most important thing to start a business is the ‘will’. If you have the will, you will definitely find your way.
Obviously, the other important things, like the idea you want to implement, or the problem that you are trying to solve, or the innovation you are trying to bring in are equally important.
In our case, we were very clear from the start, that we want to disrupt the SCaaS sector. That’s a key problem faced by SME/ MSME and other corporates as they don’t have the right source of their key raw materials, or not the most optimised supply chain.
We bring in our experience and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to optimise that supply chain and have an impact on the business of MSME/ SME.
What are the focus sectors for Aksum and how do you intend to add value to the business of SMEs ?
Ankit Jain: We at Aksum help SMEs address multiple challenges by offering multiple services like helping them reduce the price disadvantage in comparison to large corporates by passing the advantage of bulk buying to SMEs.
We assist them in expanding their markets by making a wider pool of suppliers and customers accessible for them thereby creating a higher value discovery for their businesses.
We help them reduce the leakages in their supply chain through transparent processes and ultimately helping them increase their profitability.
We also unlock funds intelligently by helping them leverage the available banking and financing tools. The flexible inventory management tools we provide them helps these SMEs scale up their manufacturing and distribution.
What are the key advantages for the MSMES if they route your business through Aksum ?
Sumit Bhatia: Within the B2B space we have differentiated ourselves from the beginning by focusing on the supply chain issues faced by the SME sector.
In today’s digital age, companies are going to become more reliant on other expert organizations to perform some or all of their supply chain tasks.
Our clients can outsource their manufacturing, distribution, procurement, logistics, accounts payable systems and more to us.
The digital supply chain of the future will require the companies to outsource, that is, to leverage SCaaS.
The advantage we offer include end-to-end connectivity, improved productivity, lower cost, greater service, heightened flexibility and adaptability, and better asset management.
What is your advice for budding entrepreneurs ?
Ankit Jain: Our advise is very simple. Don’t try to overdo a particular thing and don’t try to be perfect at the first go in whatever you are doing.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be flexible and try out various things before getting that right mantra. So, if you try to become perfect in anything and everything you are trying to do, you shall miss on other important things which require your attention. Don’t fret over experimenting and don’t overdo anything.
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