Maneet Gohil, co-founder and CEO, Lal10 (an online B2B wholesale marketplace for rural SMEs), was intrigued by the creative manufacturing industry, having visited his grandfather’s manufacturing unit of leather footwear in Jalgaon, Maharashtra since childhood. He realised market access was an issue for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), who had to rely on traditional domestic markets and sell products through trade shows, exhibitions, middlemen, or export houses. None of these MSMEs knew how to access international markets or had the basic design knowledge to make their products contemporary.
After completing his MBA degree in 2015, Gohil joined Flipkart to witness the scale technology can bring. “It was inspiring to see Sachin and Binny (Flipkart co-founders) at the office. They were demi-gods for all of us who were aspiring to become entrepreneurs,” says Gohil. “I got in touch with my former colleague Sanchit Govil and friend Albin Jose. We travelled to meet over 6,000 MSMEs in 18 states to understand the problem which we wanted to solve.”
Today, Lal10 claims to be the largest vertical wholesale marketplace in India for creative manufacturing MSMEs. “We are on a mission to bring light to the lives of rural MSMEs with a fragmented supply chain in creative manufacturing. We built Lal10 to create a maker’s revolution by digitalising small and medium rural manufacturers to take their sustainable products to global markets,” says Gohil.
According to the Lal10 co-founder, over 1.2 million creative manufacturing MSMEs are struggling to reach markets amidst Covid as the traditional supply chain of exhibitions, middlemen, and export houses have collapsed. Lal10 is building a technology-led seller ecosystem for MSMEs in the creative manufacturing sector. The company is supporting MSMEs in building digitalised web stores that are accessible to domestic and global markets, and is providing SMBs with the benefits of a big-box retailer, which includes affordable sourcing, contemporary design curation, and an assortment of products.
Small manufacturers registered on the Lal10 platform have been using Lal10’s Karigar app to digitise physical inventories which are available for request for quotations (RFQs) on the global wholesale platform.
Lal10 claims to have registered an 80% month-on-month revenue growth in the last six months. “Today, the adoption of technology on our supply side (with MSMEs) is on fire. Over 2000 MSMEs have digitalised more than 45,000 SKUs using our application. This makes the company the largest vertical platform for MSMEs for cross-border wholesale in India,” says Gohil, adding, “Today the company is hitting close to $7 million in annualised run rate and is growing to $22 million in annualised run rate in FY 23.”
In March 2020, Lal10 company raised $1.1 million from private investors, led by Utah-based impact investment company Sorenson Impact. In addition to this, Indian angel investors including Slideshare’s Amit Ranjan, former Flipkart CTO Mekin Maheshwari, Pravin Gandhi from Seedfund, along with Beyond Capital, Pegasus Finvest, Upaya Ventures, Angellist Collective, and Gemba Capital also participated in the round.
“We are planning to tap into the export market more aggressively since we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of global buyers visiting our platform. We also have plans to launch a warehouse in the United States and a few of the European markets. We are also beginning to set up on-ground sales teams in the US. For our international buyers, we are also actively expanding our seller reach in southeast Asia, to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” says Gohil. “In addition to this, we are investing aggressively in technological innovations on our platform. Our design insights on products that are bestselling help MSMEs to improve their designs and sell better. This lets them be equipped with adequate design support to create products in contemporary designs for the global markets.”