Bikayi: Enabling India’s fast growing e-commerce ecosystem

Shraeyansh Thakur

Published September 3, 2021

India is on the cusp of an e-commerce revolution. Over 140 million people now shop online, thanks to the rapid evolution of the country’s digital payments infrastructure, logistics networks, and smartphone penetration over the last five years. The pandemic, meanwhile, is accelerating this trend, making e-commerce the default option for anyone with Internet access.

We believe small and medium enterprises will play a pivotal role in shaping the country’s e-commerce landscape over the next five to 10 years. While e-commerce is about a $40 billion market in India today, it still accounts for less than 5% of overall retail sales. That will change as small and medium enterprises, which dominate the retail sector, continue to digitize. India is home to over 80 million SMES, which account for over 30% of India’s GDP, employ over 130 million and form the backbone of the economy. Right now, millions of mobile-first SME owners are looking for effective, easy-to-use, tools they can use to connect with their customers in an increasingly digital world. The rapid digitization of India’s SMEs and the rise of social commerce are important trends we’ve been tracking closely over the last few years.

Today, we are excited to announce that Sequoia Capital India is leading a $10.8M Series A investment in Bikayi, which helps small businesses start and run their ecommerce stores. Enabling e-commerce is a theme we feel very excited about, and Bikayi is building a powerful tool that integrates the entire infrastructure of commerce onto one single platform.

When we met Sonakshi Nathani and Ashutosh Singla, we were struck by their sharp articulation of the problem SME owners faced, as well as their nuanced approach to solving this problem.

In 2019 Sonakshi, whose family runs a grocery store in a small town in India, noticed that the store’s staff were taking a large part of their orders on WhatsApp from regular customers and then spending hours on reconciliation and managing the fulfilment of those orders. It was a chaotic system that led to many challenges in managing inventory and frequent stockouts. She shared these observations with Ashutosh, her batchmate from IIIT Hyderabad. Ashutosh was then working in the engineering team at Square in the US and was very inspired by the approach Square had taken to solve the problems of SMEs in the US. A few months later, Sonakshi quit her job at Microsoft and teamed up with Ashutosh to start Bikayi.

Their distinctive understanding of the persona of their customers and first principles thinking to solving problems for the SMB partners clearly stood out in our early interactions.

Bikayi today enables hundreds of thousands of small businesses to launch and run their e-commerce stores, allowing them to manage traffic from various channels, integrate offline and online orders, accept payments across various modes and fulfil orders through integrated service providers. WhatsApp in India has become a meaningful customer engagement channel for small businesses, and Bikayi makes it very easy for merchants to integrate their stores with WhatsApp as well. The entire platform has been designed to enable easy integration with other applications to make it a single dashboard for everything the merchants need.

It’s even more exciting to see the impact their product is having on small businesses – and the country’s employment rate. One small merchant that set up their online storefront through Bikayi earlier this year, for example, is now processing 10,000 transactions per month online and saw sales grow by 8x over the last 6 months. The company, which was run by a team of two, now employs over 40 people.

Bikayi is going after a massive market that will continue to grow as the digitization of India continues to accelerate. We at Sequoia India are excited to partner with Sonakshi, Ashutosh and the team at Bikayi in their mission to make it easy for millions of SMEs to engage with consumers online.