Inside The AI-Driven Grocery Portal Rozana, Based On A Unique Peer Commerce Model
Founded by Ankur Dahiya (CEO), Adwait Vikram Singh (CSO), Mukesh…
Founded by Ankur Dahiya (CEO), Adwait Vikram Singh (CSO), Mukesh Christopher (COO), and Prithvi Pal Singh (CPO), Rozana.in is an AI-based peer and social commerce grocery portal, recently launched in Lucknow, Delhi, Noida, and Greater Noida.
Having scaled their B2B platform, Fresh Cartons, to eight cities to ensure healthy and swift supply, it is their mission to offer quality products and much-needed supply chain solutions to our everyday shopping experiences. Recently, Germany’s IEG invested $1.5mn in Rozana to help the founders scale and expand domestically and globally.
Rozana.in’s biggest strength is that it deals directly with the producer and retailer, which benefits both the product quality and pricing. Rozana’s unique technology provides complete supply chain visibility and creates solutions for retailers, farmers, and customers from vendor assessment, and offers delivery within three to four hours.
We speak to their COO, Mukesh Christopher, and CPO, Prithvi Pal Singh, to understand their business model and journey.
MW: Prithvi, please tell us about your story (personal journey). How did the idea for Rozana.in come about? What made you start a project like this?
Prithvi: I come from an urban village in Delhi, after graduating from DU, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. There were times, I did not have 1,000 rupees in my pocket. But we were driven and worked by hit and trial. It took time, but in 10 years, I became a successful real estate entrepreneur in Delhi. But many I know were not able to excel, some who were smarter than me, only because of lack of opportunities. I thought if there was a platform to enable success for others who are hard working and passionate, it would enable so many success stories in a nation like India.
Therefore, when Ankur, our CEO, discussed the idea of Rozana with me, the genesis of it was personal and resonated. Rozana.in enables you to become a peer and through that, you can sustain your family needs and the focus on developing a side hustle. I thought, if we could make Rozana accessible, we will help many more people to be successful and fulfill their dreams.
MW: Mukesh, how did you become part of Rozana? Please tell us about your journey.
Mukesh: I grew up in a Tamilian Christian government school in Delhi’s Daryaganj. Punishment at home and school were common, so were street fights. Coming from a service family, I knew education and hard work was key to making it in Delhi.
Eventually, after hard work I went to St. Stephen’s College. I was the ‘Student of the Year’, at St. Stephen’s. Ofcourse, nowhere close to what Karan Johar imagined it and I was nowhere close to getting to date the hottest woman in college. Adwait, our CSO, was my classmate. We were out of touch for 14 years till immediately after Covid, when I was thinking of starting my own venture. Adwait and Ankur discussed the idea of Rozana.in with me. It excited me, and I was immediately on board. I love operating in the FMCG market. Operations has been my forte, I have been part of the Red Bull team, and set up a North India distribution network.
MW: Is FMCG E-commerce a stiff market? How do you plan to build a loyal customer base?
Mukesh: I don’t think FMCG is a stiff market, from our point of view it is still in its infancy. Every research article detests Indian trends where e-commerce, in general, is in single digits of about 7-8 per cent. However, if you look at countries like China or Brazil, which have a similar demographic, we notice a 30 per cent to 50 per cent penetration. With Prithvi ji, we are planning a detailed strategy for penetration. Our objective is to create entrepreneurs, wealth creators. Whoever can create an engagement plan for entrepreneurs will win this game. I think time is a great test and we will see how this space evolves.
Prithvi: I do not know if we can discuss specifics, but our plans are simple. Our focus and efforts are channelised to create entrepreneurship and a supply chain that is efficient. I am sure Mukesh is better disposed to answer this question as the COO, but as the Chief Planning Officer of the company, my goals are to work on making our partners understand the value of becoming an entrepreneur with zero investment.
MW: Rozana.in is the first-of-its-kind peer social commerce model. How did the idea of peer social commerce come about?
Mukesh: The credit for the idea goes to our co-founder, Adwait. He heads the strategy of the group and has been working on it for over a decade now. The idea originated in a meeting with his Harvard friend in Africa, who is working on a similar social commerce model. Having taken inspiration from companies like Pinduoduo, we worked our own specifics and customised it to suit the Indian market.
Rozana.in aims to become India’s largest peer-based model working on asset-light sourcing. The company’s objective is to set up four to five million active peers across India in the next five years. Rozana offers peers to become wealth creators with zero investments. This model will help unlock the entrepreneurial zeal in people who want to create wealth for themselves.
MW: Prithvi, how do you see yourself being different from your competitors in the social commerce space in the grocery sector?
Prithvi: Planning is one of the most important parts of our growth strategy, we are seeing a steep curve in demand. Once our round of investment is done, we will be looking to aggressively scale our business operations. I will have to repeat, the company that can engage, promote, and create a new age of entrepreneurship will pave the way to expand the market. Our effort is more about the mission of creating wealth, and that is why we are sure that with planning and strategy, we will be able to see success.
MW: What are the challenges you face while operating in Tier 2 markets?
Mukesh: The challenge resides not only in Tier 2 and Tier 3, but even in metros. We are not only an urban platform, we are planning a rural division. But the challenges are custom to the region and the city. The challenges in Tier 2 of Karnataka and Tier 2 in Uttar Pradesh are very different. The idea is to make a custom plan, and I am sure the team is best able to make it successful.
MW: What are some of your current focus areas?
We are focusing on delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, consumer brand products, and apparels in terms of products. In terms of business model, our current focus areas are express deliveries, AI solutions, and the development of peer commerce models.
MW: How is Rozana.in different from another startup in the same segment?
Peer to Peer tech-enabled startups in the grocery space are lacking at the current moment. The closest is the MLM companies which have existed for a long time and have a successful business model, but they are not tech-enabled and only sell in-house products. Where the peer has to invest money in procuring products and then physically deliver to the customer.
What impact did the pandemic have on businesses on your segment (e-commerce grocery portal)
Pandemic has helped people understand the value of ordering online. The idea of ordering your groceries from an app is something that people are comfortable with. But moreover, the pandemic will only act as a catalyst at best for something that is bound to happen in the future. Every country, including countries like Brazil, is much ahead of India, and it is a natural course of evolution we have witnessed across the world. The most important question is which startup will bring value to our customers. Rozana.in strongly feels their understanding of the ecosystem and local planning will help scale faster than any other competitor.