“Mobility” is an umbrella term and therefore it is prudent to say that the mobility market is humungous in size without needing to go into the details of what kinds of mobility, personal or professional mobility etc. The feeling of going where we want, when we want for whatever need is a feeling like no other, and many readers ought to remember the feeling they first had, while mastering their two or four wheelers. As per this writer, personal means of mobility without depending on anyone else, ought to be one of the fundamentals of individualism and personal liberty.
India as a nation is fundamentally dependent on the well-being of our micro, small and medium scale companies who mobilise effort at the grassroots level towards productive things. Take the case of retail, where mom and pop grocery shops form the bulwark of India’s retail landscape; with these entities being a part of plans of every major e-commerce operation whether for delivery or stocking. Small scale entrepreneurs and workshops keep the economic engine running.
Today, at Bangalore Insider we spoke to Prashant Kamdar and Romi Chugh, Co-founders of SpareItTM, a technology platform that seeks to work with independent garages and workshops to empower them to focus on their bottom lines more efficiently than before. Launched this year in July 2020, below are the excerpts from our interaction.
Give a brief info about your start-up?
SpareItTM empowers independent neighbourhood workshops with easy access to sourcing, last-mile logistics, business management solutions and digital credit. This helps these neighbourhood mom-and-pop workshops achieve more profit with less effort, allowing them to focus their efforts towards engaging with their customers and business expansion.
We launched our app in July 2020. We have about 800 workshops on our platform in just 5 months.
What made you start your start-up and what problem does it solve?
Prashant: 5 years back I started Hamara Garage, a workshop aggregator where we serviced cars for end-customers. While there was revenue, workshops found it hard to live up to customer expectations. They faced issues with sourcing of quality spares, in the shortest possible time. There was nothing done to make the service experience better. That’s when we realised there is a gap and that was the birth of SpareIt.
Romi: I used to get cars serviced at Hamara Garage. And I used to tell Prashant that I’m not happy with the service experience. I’ve been the end consumer and Prashant the provider. And that was a marriage made in heaven for SpareIt.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this start-up?
P: I have 25 years of experience in the automotive aftermarket selling spares, lubes, and more in B2B. With the experience of Hamara Garage, the B2C segment was also taken care of. I’m a completely hands-on person and love to get my hands dirty.
R: I’ve been an out and out marketing guy for 20+ years. From marketing gigs for Guns-N-Roses India tour, Indian Aces – Tennis team to managing large Hospitality, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Automotive marketing, setting up B-O-T businesses under my consulting company – TheRomiGuy – Return on Marketing Investment
Where is your start-up based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
P&R: Namma Bengaluru. Bengaluru is the IT capital of the country. And our tech-platform couldn’t find a better home.
As a start-up founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
R: Haha! Prashant is always paranoid. About everything. Prashant is famous for his frequent ‘solo talks’ which he does for thinking on his own. When he has an idea, he hardly sleeps till he discusses it with me.
P: Haha! Romi is hardly paranoid about anything! According to him, “Everything that has to happen, will happen when it is supposed to happen.. but we need to constantly intervene for that to happen faster.” ☺
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
P: There is no direct competition. SparesHub is an ecommerce portal for spares, Boodmo is an app for OEM spares. Autorox is a business management tool for workshops. Our model is different.
R: Infact, all these guys, SparesHub, Boodmo can be part of our platform as we are consolidating demand. They are addressing only one issue. We are solving multiple issues for workshops.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a start-up founder and how do you manage it?
P: Work is life. Life is work. I’ve told my wife and kids not to disturb me at all between 9AM-7PM; post that all yours.
R: If we look at it like a job, then the work-life balance issue creeps in. I love what I am building – it’s fun.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If not then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
R: We just closed a pre-seed round from 4 investors. Two from the US and two from India. We are looking to raise the next round in about 4-6 months.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
P: Honestly, do they? We don’t know. We are extremely straight and to the point. We call a spade a spade.
R: It’s important to be direct when you deal with people aka relationships. It just avoids any unnecessary guessing games.
What gets you excited about this company?
P: There are 15 lakh workshops in India. This is an educated guess. Imagine our app being used by each and every one of them. And the B2C side of this once we open it up! Wow! The prospects are just awesome.
R: You’re driving from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and you get stuck. You open the app and you find the nearest SpareItTM verified workshop in the most remote part of the country. Imagine the possibilities!
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.
|3:00 AM – 9:00 AM||Wake up, spend time at home, walk with wife, read the newspaper, catch up on TV news, breakfast|
|9:30 AM||Reach Office and wait for Romi for a coffee and plan the day. Romi is usually aware of the meetings for the day.|
|10:00 AM – 1:30 PM||Meetings, calls and team updates|
|2:00 PM – 2:30 PM||Lunch|
|2:30 PM – 6:30 PM||Meetings, calls|
|7:00 PM onwards||Head home or solo talk evenings|
|11:00 PM||To bed|
|6:15 AM – 9:15 AM||Wake up, leave for a run or cycling – every alternate day.|
|9:45 AM||Reach Office and join Prashant for a coffee. I‘m usually the one who plans the meetings for the day.|
|10:00 AM – 11:30 AM||Meetings, calls and team updates|
|11:30 – 12:00 PM||Lunch|
|12:00 PM – 6:30 PM||Meetings, calls|
|7:00 PM onwards||Head home|
|11:00 PM||To bed|
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
R: All good things begin over a coffee. Prashant and I have known each other for 15 years. Our children go to school together. I had just finished a consulting assignment and was on a sabbatical and caught up with Prashant at a Coffee Day near home, where he pitched this idea to me. Our SpareItTM journey started from Coffee Day.
P: I knew Romi as our children went to school together. Over 15 years? There were several pain points that needed to be addressed in the aftermarket workshops space. It is not a one man job. I caught up with Romi and spoke to him about it. Since he wasn’t from this industry, we spent close to 8 months researching this industry before getting into it.
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