This AI-driven, full-stack B2B distribution startup helps brands up their logistics game

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Offline distribution in India is a classic two-sided problem between brands and retailers.

“FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brands worry about fragmented distributors who are getting weaker, unwilling to grow their business, and lack family succession planning to drive business growth forward. business to the next level”, Abhishek Nehru, co-founder, RIPPLR says Your story.

But the pandemic has brought many changes to the FMCG industry – for the better.

COVID-19[feminine] has taught big brands a big lesson about strengthening their distribution network by consolidating fragmented micro-markets and partnering with business setups that can grow with them across geographies using technology and the analysis,” he adds.

According to Abhishek, the new entrants, in particular the D2C challenger brands, have great difficulty in extending their offline distribution in the presence of major multi-city professional players. Most D2C brands would rather stay online than spend a lot offline.

RIPPLR based in Bengalurulaunched by Abhishek and Santosh Dabke in 2019, aims to solve the problem of distribution.

The startup offers an integrated plug-n-play distribution platform for everyone FMCG Brands. It’s a Full-stack distribution startup driven by AI (artificial intelligence) which offers distribution as a service (DaaS) to brands and builds distribution networks based on assets and technologies.

the Based in Bangalore The startup is building end-to-end digital and offline capabilities that aim to enable brands to test their products in the targeted market and expand distribution from hundreds of large-format retail stores to thousands of smaller stores across the geographical areas.

“RIPPLR helps brands manage and digitize distributor operations, financial and backend operations, creating visibility and a management layer for logistics. With strong end-to-end logistics capabilities, the company delivers an integrated customer experience by improving certainty and quality for consumers,” explains co-founder Santosh.

RIPPLR has an extensive distribution network of 40,000+ retail stores with 17 micro-warehouses in eight cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, Vijayawada, n/a Hubli supported by a logistics network in six metropolitan cities and 30 partner offices.

Its clients currently include brands such as Hindustan Unilever, Dabur, Britannia, Godrej, Reckitt Benckiser, Tata Consumer Products, Nivea, Kimberly Clark, L’Oreal, Colgate, and Licious among others.

USP

Abhishek says RIPPLR is building a very unique “Uber Model” in the distribution ecosystem by organizing the traditional distribution partners, both in urban India and in rural Bharat.

The Uber model is a kind of technology platform for channel partners, helping them streamline their inventory, warehousing, billing, sales and collection issues.

“In fact, this Uber model complements and does not compete with anyone. This is a one-of-a-kind distribution ecosystem where RIPPLR has already taken the leadership of a large category,” says Abhishek.

“Our Uberized model is essentially a task-based model using AI/ML, helping small channel partners organize all of their channel-related activities by performing multiple tasks derived from our platform’s algorithms,” explains- he.

“RIPPLR operates on a full-stack model. We buy branded inventory and resell it to retailers while maintaining our margins (average margin 5-20%),” adds Santosh.

The team

Abhishek and Santosh met through mutual friends, and both have relevant experience spanning more than two decades in the field of distribution and logistics.

Abhishek has 18 years of experience in IT, ITES and retail operations. He was instrumental in setting up back-end operations in customer service and supply chain management for retail giants like Croma and Flipkart.

He has worked with multinationals, including Samsung, EDS, Daimler — the management of their IT operations, and Chrysler in the USA.

Before co-founding RIPPLR, Abhishek was the CEO of Execution for 3PL, as well as helped build Provide integrated logistics from zero to one Rs 50 crore annual turnover with a positive EBITA in 3.5 years.

Santosh brings with him over 20 years of deep cross-functional experience in organizations including Philips, Whirlpool, Bajaj Tempo, HDFC bank, and AMC dependency lead large teams in different regions and areas.

He has held various positions in departments such as Sourcing, Sales and Distribution, Product Innovation, Marketing, Direct Sales, Banking and Investments.

“Ripplr is now a strong team of over 300 people across eight cities. Most of the team members have been with us for two years and have helped manage the phenomenal growth of the past two years,” says Santosh.

Funding and monetization

Started with an initial investment of Rs 50 millionRIPPLR raised approx. $15 million to date, with plans to increase $30-40 million in the next two quarters.

In December 2021, the startup raised $12 million in a pre-Series B round. The round was a mix of equity and debt, which saw participation from Japanese conglomerate Sojitz Corporation and Stride Ventures, as well as existing investors 3one4 Capital, Zephyr Peacock India Growth Fund and Chand Family Office – Yukti, backed by prominent first – angel investors Vivek Gupta and Abhay Hanjura (founders of Licious), as well as the founders of Solution Infinite (now Kaleyra) Aniketh Jain and Ashish Agarwal.

The startup previously closed its Series A round at $3 million in January 2021.

“We are now timing Rs 600 crore ARR (annual recurring revenue) and are operationally profitable at the city level,” says Santosh.

The path to follow

According to Brand Equity Foundation of IndiaIndia’s current market size for FMCG (excluding groceries) is estimated to be around $110 billion and is likely to cross $220 billion by 2025.

“COVID-19 has been a game-changer for us as most brands have realized the value of a professional setup to build their distribution strategy for the next two to three decades,” says Abhishek.

“The biggest challenge was getting brands to partner with us because most big brands had been used to working with distributors for over two to three decades. Brands weren’t very comfortable experimenting with new-age partners like RIPPLR,” he adds.

RIPPLR has a presence in eight cities across India with Bengaluru being the base. Currently, 95 percent from its activity comes six cities in southern India. The startup is operationally profitable in all the cities where it is present.

“Our competitors are small, traditional distributors,” says Santosh.

“Ripplr intends to expand its ‘Uber model’ to 100 cities and towns over the next 12 months, and is targeting Rs 2,000 crore ARR. It will grow organically with all of its existing brands in these cities with links long term, and will also continue to add new brands – both domestic and global.

“Our goal is to be India’s largest omnichannel partner for all FMCG brands across the globe,” Santosh concludes.

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