This rural tech startup is redefining rural commerce and making lives easy amidst the pandemic
Meet Vamsi Udayagiri who is doing his bit to bridge the rural divide for businesses and consumers. His latest venture is Hesa, a Telangana-based rural startup that is connecting Bharat with India phygitally. “It is redefining rural commerce by providing last mile physical and digital connect to rural areas,” says Vamsi, founder and CEO, Hesa. “Our primary objective is to enable brands to reach the last mile customers in remote Bharat phygitally.”
Hesa’s integrated B2B marketplace connects both the ends and enables buying and selling with an almost ‘doorstep access’. Hesa’s phygital approach (a physical network of village level entrepreneurs called Hesaathis, assisted by a digital commerce platform at every village) enables businesses to reach, showcase, convince and transact with their rural target audience, says Vamsi.
Hesa’s aim is to be the connector and provide end-to-end access to brands, an opportunity to rural consumers, create microentrepreneurs and hence enable multiple livelihoods at scale. Commencing operations in April 2020, Hesa closed the year with Rs 30.12 crore as gross revenue. It has witnessed 25% average monthly growth and 65% retention rate. “In the process, Hesa has been able to decode the unit economics model for rural ecosystem,” he says.
Businesses in rural India thrive on trust and relationships, he says. Hesa’s deep understanding of the rural customer and the presence of a tech-savvy, local village level entrepreneur, the Hesaathi makes Hesa the go-to rural connector. Hesa is currently operating in 11 districts, with presence in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra and more than 7000 Hesaathis, of which over 30% are women. Vamsi says that Hesa has catered to more than six lakh customers with 40 brands on Hesa’s platform in a short span of one year.
In March 2021, Hesa emerged as one of the two winners among the 200-plus startups across the country in the “Road to Elevate Competition” by IIT Madras’ Entrepreneurship Cell. In Feb 2021, Hesa was recognised as one of the top five startups amongst 1000-plus startups in India and five other countries at the Innopreneurs Startup Contest.
Hesa offers every business a space to ride its network and reach the remotest corners to offer its products and/or services. In a Hesa powered village, rural customers can buy or sell a range of products, avail banking and other financial facilities and also pay utility bills from the comfort of their village. All that is needed is a visit to the local village level entrepreneur (Hesaathi), who logs in to the Hesa digital platform and transacts on their behalf.
In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Hesa has been acting as a bridge between the brands trying to reach the rural marketplace and the customers in needs of the services and products. It has recently launched a #savinglivelihood initiative which will enable employment opportunities to those who have lost their jobs/employment amidst the crisis. It has already onboarded 300 people though the imitative in a very short span of time.
Hesa has been delivering an essential ration kit worth around Rs 400 for Covid patients. It has been selling around 1000 kits every day. Since the Central and state governments have come up with Covid insurance, Hesaathis have been selling around 4,000 such policies every month.
“Farmers in small villages have not been able to sell their produce due to lockdown restrictions. Hesa has helped in reselling produce such as onion, ginger, potatoes, paddy worth Rs 7-8 lakh,” says Vamsi, adding, “We are actively helping rural customers in vaccination registration and have helped 3,000 people.”