There is something about young college guys starting world changing companies. Be it a Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Evan Spiegel, we have seen multiple instances of college students going down that road. But where did they start, how did they start? The outside world only gets to know once they have made it big. But how is it like when you are young and just starting a company? It will be amazing to know the journey of such an entrepreneur during that phase. And that is exactly what we at Bangalore Insider are bringing to you through the story of Akarsh, the founder of Lupum.
Here are the excerpts of the interview
Give a brief info about your startup?
We are an app-based B2B marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers directly with local retailers, or to be specific we connect them with ‘Kirana Stores’. Essentially, we are disintermediating an industry that has high number of middlemen. We believe that our comprehensive technological solutions can re-imagine the way business will be done.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
I got this idea when I was walking to a kirana store near my home and saw some people in trucks unloading some groceries to the shop. This sparked my interest and inclined me to learn more about it. When I started learning about this industry, I found out that these kirana stores make up about $700 billion dollars in the retail market i.e. 80% of the market share are dominated by these shops. These shops have been effectively resilient to the competition of big companies.
But, as I learned more about it, the inefficiencies in the process became very apparent. Due to limited scale, kirana owners do not get much bargaining power over their suppliers. Since there are a lot of layers to reach the end consumer they aren’t left with much profit either.
This is how the idea of Lupum Wholesale started. With a focus on technology and supply chain innovation it is possible to generate value in a way that has never been done before. Through the advent of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics we can improve our business processes in a way that allows us to mitigate risks that was not possible earlier.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
My journey with technology started way early in my childhood. I was first introduced to these so-called machines called computers when I was just 8 years old. After playing around, it pushed me to explore more about it and this is how I got started with programming at 13.
After I graduated from high school, I started a few ecommerce dropshipping stores. Eventually, with great interest in AI and ML I started my first AI startup ‘Andromeda Robotics’ with an aim to humanize technology which unfortunately, couldn’t succeed due to funding issues. I briefly was pursuing engineering in computer science at a university but dropped out after seeing there was no point because I already knew most of the stuff anyway and this is when I decided to build something that would add more value than just sitting in a classroom.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
The idea was born in my hometown Bidar. However, I believe the environment is a key factor when building a startup. You need to be in an environment that is supportive and resourceful, and I found no other better place than Bengaluru that fit this criteria. Our startup requires a highly talented team and Bengaluru is one such place with no shortage of talented people.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Well, as a startup founder, it is very natural to be paranoid about a lot of things but to be specific, being an early stage startup lagging behind is what I would be paranoid about the most. I think for a business to succeed it is very important that we are steps ahead of our competition.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
We do have competition but they are all at a very early stage. Some of our closest competitors are ShopKirana, Jumbotail and our biggest competitor is Udaan which has a totally different business model than ours. We are of course better because the value that we are generating is way better than what they can offer. Our value proposition is what differentiates us from our competitors.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I believe there is no such thing as work and life. When you are constantly striving to create what you care for, you will never wish for a break. The idea of work-life balance I believe came from the west. There, you are dead for five days and alive on the weekend? This is not what I call living. To me, my work is a love affair.
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.
At the moment, we are looking for seed funding to begin our operations.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
One of the biggest misconception people have about me is that since I am 19 years old and a dropout they immediately come to a conclusion that I am unfit to do what I am working towards. I have been rejected by many investors because of this very reason. This is obviously due to a very college-centered culture here in India. The buzz word ‘degree’ is all they care, and is the very basis where you are deemed educated or unfit for anything. The reality is that they need to realize that today’s biggest tech companies were all started by young people and many of them were dropouts. In India we need to empower young people to go beyond the societal norms and strive for something they really care for instead of forcing them to follow the path of comfort and security.
What gets you excited about this company?
The fact that what we’re working on is going to impact millions of people positively and knowing that we are making some difference in their lives is the biggest thing that gets me excited. At Lupum, we do not measure our progress on monetary value we bring but by what we can deliver to our customers.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My day starts very early in the morning after waking up at 5:30 am. I do some meditation and then I head to the gym near my home. I feel it is very important to be fit and healthy which gives you a boost throughout the day. I then go to my office and work on handling the product development and meetings where we are constantly looking for ways to better the business. After I come back in the evening and have a great hot shower, I check some important e-mails and end the day by listening to some Sadhguru’s talks or by reading a book.
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