Sumit Agarwal: In India, SAAS Is Not Software as a Service but It Is Service as a Software. This Is Our Main Strength

October 2, 2022

Sumit Agarwal of Vyapar.

Tell us about yourself?

I worked as an engineer for Intuit on QuickBooks for 8 years before leaving with a goal to solve critical problems for India.

Growing up in a family of businesspeople and seeing my father work in a shop every day, I decided to build something that can help people like my father improve their life and make them feel proud of what they’re doing.

This became the impetus for Vyapar, a low-cost billing solution. A passionate individual with a positive attitude towards everything that happens in life, my credo is that failures are but moments that pass when you stay focused on your ultimate goal.

Hard work, humbleness to learn and “can do” attitude can help achieve anything.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you? 

Building a company has following major steps : Idea, Prototype, Customer acceptance, Business model, Company, Business, Scaling business. Each step has huge amount of learning. Few learnings which are horizontal and applicable across stages :

1. People and relationships are building blocks of everything. Spend time coaching people and be extremely open to learn from others in the team.

2. Embrace rejections. Rejections or critical feedbacks to be taking positively to use them as tools to improve product and processes.

3. Trust the team. Critical to trust the team and let them take ownership to drive things with close watch on the direction.

4. Letting people go is one of the most challenging part which shouldn’t be delayed once decided. That helps the person leaving as well as the company.

5. Networking with other people in the domain and industry is very very critical. Many people including me have this as their weakness but critical to be handled.

6. Anything that can’t be measured, can’t be improved. Measure everything and make everything data driven as much as possible. Data points help give very clear backing to decisions, help find insights which give very clear direction

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would do more research and understand about the role when hiring for a particular role. Also I would take help from my network to help with interviews when I am not expert of that area.

Hiring is super critical for the company and rest everything comes later. I would start measuring everything much earlier than I actually did.

Measure ROI, measure customer retention, measure customer NPS etc. etc.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

In reality business and company is the personal life of an entrepreneurs. If someone has to think as company and personal different, specially in the first 3-4 years, then there is some other problem.

For the later stages, one simple rule has helped me is weekdays are for work and weekends for family and personal life. I don’t do personal things on weekdays and don’t work on weekends.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

The idea of Vyapar came from our personal background of being from a business family. One of our cousins asked for an app to manage his business on mobile.

That gave us motivation to build the first prototype of Vyapar which slowly evolved into a complete billing and accounting solution that we see today.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

Understanding our customer problems and how they see things is the magic sauce.

All the products existing in market in billing and accounting space had been built with the view of accountant or CAs, but we built the product from the view of a business man.

Example Accountants see everything as account, but in really business man see it as items, parties, cash, bank. So replicated the the real world.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

Sales have been going good.

Sales is all about solving the customer problem well. I would always suggest, but true to core, tell the customer very clearly what is in the product and what is not.

Measure everything in sales irrespective of inside sales or field sales.

Setting up the culture to make sure teams don’t do push or wrong selling due to targets is the hardest thing in sales.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

There is nothing called biggest challenge while building a company. There are plethora of challenges big and small across the journey. I can call few major ones that have challenged existence of the company are :

1. Raising funds. Raising funds when required is one of the biggest challenge and can result in company being shutdown. Learning from each discussion and tweaking the pitch to make it refined and clear, focus on business efficiency and growth along with show casing it well are few things that have helped to handle this challenge.

2. Competitor threat when someone is able to raise more money, copy and build the product same as you. This is more pressure or emotional problem to solve than reality. Being true to core, keep solving for the customers with best experience, and keep building the product right with clear business model. People who copy the product or raise more in the end fail due the the hurry of defeating you.

3. Being able to build the culture where people want to stay and work for company’s success. It’s a very very long topic to discuss, but few critical things – try to hire good people, give ownership to others, maintain transparency in the teams, share and be open to receive feedbacks etc.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in India and the specific state you are in over other states in India?

In the domain we are present, Customer Service is most critical piece after product. So in India, SAAS is not Software as a Service but it is Service as a Software.

This is our main strength. We are present in all states but few states like Maharashtra, Gujarat are the major adopters.

What (if any) are some weaknesses of operating your business within India and your state?

Challenge of operating in India is it is very price sensitive market. We have to provide very high value at very low cost, that’s the biggest challenge of Indian Market.

But since we are passionate to take our country to next level, we try to keep finding ways to keep the cost low and still increase company revenues by finding addition revenue channels or selling the same product outside India.

If you could operate your business in another state in India rather than the State you are in, which state would it be and why?

I would pass this question as we are and will be providing our solution to all the states in the country.

India has an incredibly diverse population. How has the affected your consumer base and business?

Our business is to provide solution across the country for all the MSMEs. We have built the product to handle the diverse business segments of India.

The only effect or challenge that we handle is providing the support, sales etc to all the states in their local languages.

Infrastructure is really important to businesses. How have you seen India’s infrastructure improve recently? Do you see new opportunities opening up?

Since we are in the technology business, the real infra meaningful to us is availability of Internet, availability payment mechanisms by consumers etc.

And in both these sections our country is doing really well. Payment mechanism of UPI has really made a very large impact on the ease of doing business for the digital companies.

There are more support required over UPI and other payment mechanisms of recurring payments which is missing as of now. Availability of that would definitely improve many businesses.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?

Our vision is to be the largest business platform in India and we are focusing on that every minute. We will provide 360 degree solution to the MSMEs at the most affordable cost and best service.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

Not applicable for our business.

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