Founding members of Connect2India. (Photo:File)
Traditionally, international trade has been viewed as an economic activity that majorly benefits only large enterprises. However, this is not true at all. Exporting provides substantial gains for small and medium-sized firms as well. The profitability of these firms increases significantly when they are given the opportunity to reach bigger markets and export to genuine overseas buyers.
However, a very large proportion of Indian SMEs are not able to export/import because of knowledge and information gap and multiple trade barriers. It is a big challenge for them to find and qualify trade counterparts in the global market. Further, the absence of any trade insights and trade analytics increases the fixed cost of identifying the target country and trade counterparts.
There have only been workarounds so far which include trade fairs, trade agencies, consulting companies, leads based companies etc. but these solutions are highly ineffective, slow and risky. Also, these existing approaches are tactical, require manual effort and are prone to error with little or no focus on sustainability or strategic growth. Further, the cost of wrong information such as identifying the wrong target product, country or trade counterparts in global trade are also really high.
The world is full of opportunities in the shape of unexplored global markets, and to bridge this gap, technology is the solution. Technology makes the process faster, easier and a lot safe. But, for these SMEs, technology in itself is not enough. Hence, what these SMEs need is a one-stop source providing end-to-end solutions using technology and with a partnership-based approach.
Connect2India was set-up with a vision of providing a single stop technology-driven integrated global trade platform for Indian as well as overseas SMEs, enabling small businesses to trade directly, by partnering and hand-holding them for end-to-end export/import, from initiating to executing trade orders successfully, under a single roof.
From finding the best target markets to worldwide demand to export/import duties and trade counterparts, all key steps for end-to-end export/import are being enabled through the platform. Once an SME plugs-in into the platform, they can access the trade intelligence, trade insights, trade resources, trade tools and utilities, trade service providers, trade counterparts, of every single country. Connect2India’s value proposition lies in its’ integrated global trade platform, strong worldwide presence and network of trade service providers and trade experts across the globe.
Connect2India has followed the philosophy of think big, start small, prove fast and scale aggressively and throughout the age of the start-up they have been following the same notion. The technology driven one-stop, global trading platform to make global trading ‘Safer’ and ‘Simpler’ for SMEs, was launched in April 2016.
In their 1st year Connect2India’s was still determined to create a strong platform thus, they employed a strong core technology team to equip the platform with all the latest and necessary technologies that Connect2India believed, were necessary to make cross-border trading easier for SMEs. The technology team worked on equipping the platform with AI-Powered Virtual Assistant, the platform uses advanced analytics and provide holistic view of the companies. This enables the platform to provide its ‘risk mitigation’ attribute.
Further, it has developed features, like NLP and ML-based reputation and sentiment analysis to compute the reputation of a company, counterpart buying or selling behaviour using big data sciences, and application of ML algorithms to derive buyer and seller activity pattern. These technology features help sellers to identify and qualify buyers effectively and vice versa. With the added help of Big-Data sciences, the platform is also capable of generating thorough market and trade intelligence report and trade insights for every exported/imported product.
Technology is at the heart of everything they do at Connect2India. It is enabling end-to-end global trade execution through the platform. From finding best target markets to worldwide demand to export/import duties and trade counterparts, all key steps for export/import could be done using the platform in the self-service mode.
After strengthening the platform, the company worked on building a strong core-team to finally spread its wings and pan out to help SMEs across India to grow their businesses all over the world. At Connect2India, it is firmly believed that a strong team is foundation to success for any start-up and the contribution of the team at Connect2India has been substantial to its success so far.
While the technology team worked on continuously improving the platform even further, the company also hired a sales and business development team that worked hard in developing new business opportunities by convincing the entrepreneurial society of the country and figuring out new revenue models for the unique start-up. At the same time, the trade and customer success team worked dedicatedly towards their customers to deliver 100% satisfaction and services.
This was a critical time for the company as it worked on proving its models and testing the viability of their platform and solution. The whole focus of the team was to make the initiative successful and lay-down processes and scalable models.
In its third year now, connect2india is aggressively scaling on its proven models to reach larger number of SMEs in India and arranging larger exports. The almost bootstrapped start-up is now also working with larger companies helping them with trade insights and trade intelligence. At the moment Connect2India has a huge worldwide network of associates, service providers and trade experts which it uses to help their customers arrange faster orders as well as to mitigate trade risks. While the technology team has introduced a Virtual Trading Assistant which can be controlled by your voice, making global trading further convenient, they are also working on incorporating Blockchain solutions to further mitigate the risks in the global supply chain.
The results are for everyone to see. The Platform is built, Unique IP is in place, the Unit economics are achieved, the Business Model is proven to work and scale in a self-sustainable manner, and a strong leadership team is in place.
The trade intelligence of the platform is enabling more and more SMEs to conduct smarter global trade and its role as a hand-holding expert for global trading has encouraged a large number of SMEs to spread their wings overseas.
Connect2India is enabling customers across India for end-to-end export/import in multiple industries such as Agro commodities, Apparels and Textile, Handicrafts, FMCG, Agro Equipments, Chemicals and Polymers, Metal and Alloys etc.
The company’s single most important focus since the start has been on providing ‘value’, be it to customers, users, employees or partners; that is what everyone at Connect2India strives towards delivering. Connect2India has a strong business fundamental to provide real tangible ‘value’ to their customers and enable extremely sophisticated trade functionality that is easy to use. Connect2India continues to innovate the platform, making it easier to access and use, while expanding its’ reach globally.
The company aims to provide a sustainable competitive advantage to clients’ businesses with access to its smart and integrated global trade platform powered by unique and innovative offerings. The company has an exciting roadmap on the technology front, including their plan to integrate block-chain capabilities to facilitate traceability, smart contracts and optimise global supply-chain.
On the trade front, the company continues to enable end-to-end trade execution using the platform and for that, the plan is to establish a strong presence in key cities and countries decided internally with the stakeholders by identifying key markets of exports within India and establishing a fully functional base out of those locations.
Connect2India has a strong presence and network in 12 overseas countries and is planning to expand its presence to 20 more top trading nations by this year. The local presence in overseas markets helps build confidence for exporters and importers on both sides and also help create and close new export/import opportunities for SMEs by addressing the language, cultural and information barriers.
Connect2india hope to enable grass root level change by empowering more and more agro producers and small businesses in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in the coming months to be able to trade directly and effectively.