Tejinder Oberoi(Left) , Founder and Director m1-order – Niraj Hutheesing(Right) Founder and Director m1-order
Q1. What is m1-order?
M1 Order is a unique product that helps retailers in multi-faceted ways. From being the direct ROI for their advertising dollar to attracting consumers, M1 Order clearly bridges the gap. Companies print catalogs and publish print advertisements with no clear judgement on ROI spent.
Distractions destroy business. Marketers put in all the effort to bring the customer to your product and then they get distracted with some other advertisement and you lose your customer. With m1-codes and catalogs, your customer does not slip away. M1 Order assists reduce clutter from the consumer’s mind while placing orders.
Moreover, M1 Order is easy to adopt for both the merchant and the consumer as there are hardly any entry barriers of high cost or complicated technology.
Q2. How you got the idea? How it all started? who all helped you out and what is the story from ground level?
Back in summer 2012, we were seeing a lot of leaflets and prints being distributed for marketing which didn’t have a definite ROI/call-to-action attached to it! We toyed around with the idea of having some POS to gauge. We added QR code to it and voila! One thing led to another and before we knew we had conceptualized M1 Order at a very primitive level. With the smartphone boom and better cameras and data bandwidth, placing order directly from your smartphone was hassle-free. After a lot of technical calculations and weighing of business inputs, the app went under production in early 2013.
Q3. How m1-order gonna change the shopping experience?
If you see the shopping pattern, customers are hassled with the personal visits to marts from parking their vehicles to buying, billing and more… M1 Order has a unique way of functioning – we provide a highly affordable platform to merchants to generate orders! While everyone is busy offering coupons, discounts and offers to customers, we provide businesses a platform to grow! Alternately we are reviving the print media and bringing in call-to-action for all the money spent fueled into such activities. Customers now have a choice to select, compare and buy rather than being forced to buy from a fix list of merchants. We are committed to provide innovative means of ordering through technology to help retailers grow their business.
Disrupting the e-commerce trends, we focus to pave a path by giving any seller a way to reach out to their customers through the mobile store and leverage social media like WhatsApp and Facebook to get more orders. So customers can easily purchase via virtual marketplace. Moreover, customers have the flexibility to pay via CC/DC/Net banking/Digital Wallets/COD.
Merchants are at the “front” unlike other portals where the customers don’t even know from which retailer they are purchasing! We make “BRANDS” out of merchants, so people know the next door “Vrundavan Grocery store”. With quality service and offers, merchants can have repeated business!
Unlike many platforms which charges whopping 15-20% commissions, we charge a nominal flat fee for giving merchants new orders, so they when they receive business via M1 Order which is a win-win situation for us. Increasing smartphone penetration in the market has widened the scope of shopping: barriers for using mobile for shopping has gone down and adaptability has risen constantly!
The mobile application is downloadable free of cost by the customer. We charge a nominal fee i.e. INR 5 per order.
Q4. Tell us something about co-founders and office culture.
Niraj is a serial entrepreneur running multiple businesses under the Cygnet Group. He is passionate towards building software products and his 31 years of experience is spread over diverse industries like Chemicals and Software domains. He has grown the company from just a 7 people team to over 500 people strong technical team, servicing customers in 28 countries. With a sound understanding of merchants’ psyche, he realized that there is a big opportunity in enabling technology for these small and mid-size merchants and that’s how he ended up backing my idea of creating the m1-order app with a marketplace and the idea of scanning to order.
As a business head, I have spear-headed ideas from concept to fruition and been involved in innovation and application engineering initiatives, managed business operations and managed growth during expansion cycles. We aim to make m1-order the de-facto tool for merchants to receive orders from their customers.
Currently we have a team of 40 field sales force, 20 head office staff including marketing, management and administration and 20 operations i.e. a total of 80 people currently working on this project. At M1 Order, we have an innovative and flexible work environment with a transparent approach. We make sure to provide a nurturing atmosphere for talents to nourish.
Q5. What are your (m1-order) future plans? how you gonna expand ? Which cites you currently cover and which are next?
M1 Order is currently functional in 5 cities i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. We are planning to expand across other Tier-II and III cities of India within next two years. We are targeting cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kochi and the list is endless…. M1 Order is a unique concept developed with a visionary approach. We are looking to tap in Tier-1 investors.
Q6. Being an Electronics and Industrial Electronics Engineer and done PG in International Trade, Marketing & Sales Management and Financial Management you build something which have more IT part, how?
I am qualified to be an Engineer but by heart I am a Sales guy! “Addressing problems” has being my forte since ages and Entrepreneurship my calling! While we are… owning multiple business lines we sensed the need to include IT solutions in our alternate business lines. We observed quite a few gaps while we went out to promote our adhesives and chemical business. That is when we went ahead from the traditional brick-n-mortar store to a digital approach with M1 Order.
Q7. Share some of your school or College learnings that you applied in m1-order.
Good question! I have always believed that we build best friends in life due to vices not virtues If you can play together, do all sorts of mischief, study, fight and still stick around to your friends, then nothing better! I believe in cultivating a relationship and nurturing it where-in we invest our USPs and succeed together. Rather than finding new friends in various stages of life, I have nurtured my friendship and evolved eventually. When you speak of relations, Monetary issues are prime… but manage it in such a fashion where-in all conducts are transparent. The thumb rule is never look for a 100%. Though we have been taught to be perfect and deliver 100% always, we should understand not everyone in a team is efficient enough. We need to complement each other and move ahead, setting achievable thresholds.
Q8. What mistakes you did while the journey of m1-order, that you don’t want others to repeat?
Prototype, Prototype, prototype always. Every small milestone should be prototyped because it’s better to make smaller mistakes and rework, rather than go wrong on a large scale without roll-back option! Always relate prototypes to real-time scenarios, test accurately and stop assuming results! Gut feelings are important but instincts are not to rely on always. It’s always good to quickly rework and connect to the market or go live.
Q9. What are the major roadblocks in this kind of startup and how you tackled them?
Challenges… On one hand when merchants find the concept interesting and very useful on the other hand they lack in putting enough effort to utilize the systems feature! Team M1 Order is constantly educating merchants on how to use the system efficiently to generate orders and retain their loyal customers.
The next is people usually confuse us with the standard m-commerce or e-commerce models, which we are not! Again I should add, we are breaking these myths. M1 Order give businesses a technology platform, THEIR OWN mobile app!
Q10. What is your favourite one liner and by whom?
“If your business is not a BRAND, it’s a COMMODITY” and this is what M1 Order is helping retailers achieve in this world of cut throat competition.