E-commerce is widely acknowledged to be the future of consumer and business retail.
The reasons are multifold, chief among them – the ability to pursue transactions across the global marketplace and integrate technology across all aspects of the business from logistics to purchasing inventory.
Modern capitalism is looking towards its vast cohorts of scientists and engineers to deliver the next line of revolutions and breakthroughs and indeed, going by the technologies now available in the global market commercially, individuals, corporations and nations are looking forward to usher in a new era of growth, provided the headwinds in global trade, commodity prices and the overall financial system support the energies of the men and women in our laboratories.
Amidst the flashier lights of Asian mass market consumer focused e-commerce companies, there have emerged a rung of e-commerce portals focused on serving more and more nicher customer and business segments like women’s healthcare, ethnic fashion, furniture etc.
The B2B market, being much bigger in size than the B2C market in terms of monetary value of the goods and services produced, tends to fly under the radar of the media, partly because B2B marketing is relatively less visible than B2C marketing.
Bangalore Insider, spoke to Dr. S Jhaveri, the managing director of India’s first online e-commerce marketplace focused on the life sciences and diagnostics verticals. Below are edited excerpts from our interaction.
Dr. S. Jhaveri
Managing Director – Biomall.in
Give a brief info about your startup?
Launched in mid-2016, Biomall.in is India’s first online e-commerce marketplace dedicated for laboratory, life science and diagnostic products. It offers 100,000+ products from 150+ brands across 100+ categories catering to the R&D, testing and pathology labs in the life science and healthcare sector. It is a customized portal tailored to suit the needs of lab professionals, wherein they can order products online, or also place a quote request to buy products offline. An option to get discount on bulk order is also available.
The authorized distributors or manufacturers of laboratory products can easily setup an online store on Biomall.in, and promote their products through digital marketing services. Dealers can liquidate their stock under the clearance sale section at zero setup costs.
Through its online portal, Biomall aims to simplify the process of laboratory purchases by connecting the buyers directly with the manufacturers / authorized distributors of the laboratory products. This helps to reduce the timeline associated with a single lab purchase from 4-7 weeks to 4-7 days and also cuts the costs incurred in buying the products offline. Another major benefit is the convenience offered to the laboratory users since they can get almost everything they need from one platform, rather than contacting 5-10 sellers. Biomall’s focus is to simplify the process for researchers working in academic and industrial labs, QC executives, pathologists, testing lab executives and anyone who has a science lab, so that they can devote more time to their experiments and testing instead of the admin work like the procurement of their laboratory needs.
Another focus is to give a good marketing platform to small-midsized brands who are based in India since India has a good manufacturing hub for lab products like chemicals, microbiology products, lab equipment, lab safety supplies, genomic kits, in vitro diagnostic kits and many more. Biomall is constantly connecting with these manufacturers to promote and sell their products on our portal, and help them with branding at the national and international level. It offers special marketing services like email marketing, SEO and SEM, online advertising, social media marketing, video marketing to the suppliers to help create more awareness for their brands. Till today, Biomall has successfully served to 300+ Indian cities via its online marketplace Biomall has a high conversion rate for international leads, and has successfully exported to 30+ countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe, South America as well as North America.
In India, Biomall stands as the only comprehensive platform to target the lab professionals through its customized online e-commerce business model and acts as one point of contact for international buyers interested to source their supplies from India. In near future, Biomall aims to further develop its technology and build an app for better user experience and is planning to raise funds for its technology venture.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Majority of scientific laboratories in India still follow the traditional system of inviting multiple quotations, followed by indenting, generation of purchase orders and payment to suppliers 30-90 days after delivery. A single purchase-sale cycle thus lasts for months. Even the rate contract system, wherein a vendor is chosen for a particular brand at the start of the financial year, is inefficient as the institute has to rely on a single vendor who might not have stocks readily available and cannot purchase from any other vendor who might have stocks for the required product. Typically a lab buys products from multiple brands so again they need to contact multiple vendors and a lot of time is invested in procuring day-to-day lab supplies. So while a lab in India would take months just to get their supplies; elsewhere laboratories in countries with more advanced purchasing systems would have already completed their project by the time supplies reach the scientists bench in India! This is a critical factor that needs to be addressed immediately else India will further lag behind in terms of innovations. Also, inefficiencies in systems lead to increased costs and so scientists spend not only more time but also more money to purchase lab products!
Based on this analysis and the growing consumer inclination towards e-commerce, he (Dr. Jhaveri) found an online platform connecting buyers and sellers of lab products to be a perfect solution to tackle the current problems. Thus, in mid-2016, he launched India’s first online marketplace for laboratory products – Biomall.in.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
Dr. S. Jhaveri, the founder and CEO, is a PhD graduate and a successful entrepreneur based in Mumbai. He has done his Ph.D in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in the year 2007 and also done his bachelors in Chemical Technology specializing in Chemistry of Dyes and Intermediates from ICT, Mumbai (formerly UDCT). He has been awarded Dr. Sundar Aggarwal award for outstanding Indian Students entering Ph.D. program in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University.
In the year 2012 he started his distribution business for laboratory products under the company Chargen Life Sciences LLP. During the initial 3 years of distribution business, he studied the lab industry market deeply and analyzed the problems faced by laboratories. Based on this analysis and the growing consumer inclination towards e-commerce, he found an online platform connecting buyers and sellers of lab products to be a perfect solution to tackle the current problems. Thus, in mid-2016, he launched India’s first online marketplace for laboratory products – Biomall.in.
Earlier he worked as an Independent consultant with Universal Consulting, where he carried out market research on the impact of new technologies in the knee implant market in India, assessing market feasibility for a Point-of-Care Testing Device in India and UAE. He was also a visiting student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.
He has trained, mentored and supervised several students. He also lectured in class, graded exams, and conducted office hours for freshman chemistry students in USA. Dr. S Jhaveri believes that passion, hard work, self-belief and being positive are key mantras to be a successful entrepreneur.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
The startup is based in Mumbai, the business capital of India
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
For any entrepreneur, the greatest fear is loss in business, and not being able to develop the idea into a successful venture. As of now, I have crossed the initial stage wherein I understand that my business idea is being accepted positively by other professionals in this field and hence, I need to grow it on a larger scale.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
A few of its indirect competitors in India include B2B online portals like Indiamart, trade India which are widely used by sellers to generate leads. Other competitors include B2B e-commerce platforms like Industry buying & Amazon business who provide an online platform for buying all sort of industrial supplies. These sites are however not focused on the lab industry and do not have a wide range of products that Biomall offers. In India Biomall stands as the only comprehensive platform to target the lab professionals through its customized online eCommerce business model and acts as one point of contact for international buyers interested to source their supplies from India.
The biggest USP is that we are an online platform dedicated only to the laboratory, life science and diagnostic products. This separates us from several other marketplaces that sell all kinds of products. We give a target customer base to all the sellers who can then use this platform as a good marketing tool as it caters specifically to the scientists, pathologists, medical, and pharma & QC professionals.
Also, Biomall acts as a single platform to buy multiple types of lab products from multiple brands in a single order.
It provides the option to buy lab products directly online just by selecting quantity, add to cart and place order by making online payment. Buyers can request for a bulk discount if more than 10 packs are needed. Buyers can also post enquiry for products not found on the portal. This enquiry then gets shared to all registered sellers on the portal who can send an online quote to the buyers as per product availability.
The platform provides a seamless experience to the sellers for managing all orders, enquiries, stock and ongoing offers through their dashboard.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Being a startup, it needs a lot of attention, hard work, regular analysis and change of plans and strategies based on the response received from customers. As a result, in the initial years, startup work needs more time leaving with less time for personal life. Generally weekends are the time when you can unwind and spend some quality time with your family.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Biomall is bootstrapped company and all the investments have come from their family business and distribution business of Chargen Life Sciences. However, now we are looking for investors to scale up the business.
What gets you excited about this company?
Every new enquiry and order excites us to do better, and grow as a company.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Employees are the most important part of any organization. We have a team of web designers and developers who build the technology. A dedicated team then gets sellers on-board and market their products. A technical team looks after enquiries and then the orders are processed by our logistics team to ensure timely delivery.