For those who think education is not as important as experience, here’s 99rpm.com to prove you otherwise. Started in 2013 by Pankaj Yadav, 99rpm is a web-based company in Delhi, and supplies spare parts to all kinds of vehicles in semi-urban and urban regions in India. While one cannot take anything away from a true-blue entrepreneur like Yadav when it comes to a deeper knowledge of e-commerce and the industry, he says he learnt it at Sunstone Business School.
A computer scientist in Adobe Systems, Yadav was also bitten by entrepreneurial bug there. The result? “There was no business model and I wasn’t sure if it would work. But I knew what we were about to do is truly unique,” says Yadav, explaining how spare parts aren’t readily available online and the market faces big problems such as availability, transparency, and quality. Things become all the more challenging since it is a secondary market that is closed, and not much information is available about spare parts.
“It is these issues that 99rpm promises to address by becoming an information-based, solutions provider,” says Yadav. He goes on explain how even world-famous supply chain solutions in the sector – such as that of Toyota’s Just in Time (JIT) inventory system – don’t cater to more than 500 users. “The kind of model we are building is a set of suppliers and millions of consumers. Not only are we more efficient, our operations are scalable,” he says. Taking one through the process, Yadav explains how he ensures maximum information about each spare part sold on 99rpm reaches the prospective customer. This information is not only about the spare part specifications, but also how long it will take to deliver the order.
Focusing mostly on car owners, 99rpm is currently at a stage of immediate profitability and working on improving the technology part even more. “The first two years were about launching the beta site and figuring out the business model, and approving it,” says Yadav.
On the anvil are processes to make communication as crystal-clear as possible and ensuring the information flow is clear. Yadav is looking at automating more of this so that the functions are more efficient. Currently, the company gets orders for 1,000 items a month. With the spare parts market being pull-based, 99rpm capitalizes on repeat customers and excellent word-of-mouth. “We don’t push the products. We could have, and may have made some money out of it, too, but wouldn’t have earned the kind of trust that we have,” says Yadav, explaining how it is important for 99rpm to be trustworthy and transparent. Yadav’s biggest learning: “It comes as a later stage for an entrepreneur. That is, the method that an entrepreneur uses for going from Ground Zero to one is not the same as going from one to 10.” He explains how entrepreneurs need to focus on the processes from one to 10, and make sure that the spirit of and enterprise stays alive even as the company grows, without falling into the trap of processes.