Today, we have with us Anubhav Saxena from AS Technolutions, AS is revolutionizing the way retailers, businesses, and professionals are accepting card payments from their clients & customers using a unique, safe and user friendly scan based hardware less soft PoS.
Read ahead to know more about how AS Technolutions is transforming the traditional POS system and helping businesses reach their true potential.
INSELLERS – AS Technolutions is nothing less than a revolution when it comes to card payments. AS is aiming to replace traditional card swiping machines with it is a new revolutionary technology. It would be great if we could hear more from you about it.
ANUBHAV SAXENA – Yeah, absolutely. AS is an award winning and patent awaiting fintech startup based out of Gurgaon. The idea was conceived back in 2016. It came into being because of the gap we experience in the market. For example, if I wanted to order something online from Amazon or Flipkart or any other online marketplace , I have to inform the rider to bring the card machine with him so that I can make the payment through the card. I was very curious to know why it wasn’t obvious to all these companies to carry a machine, what’s a big thing about it, that’s when I started reading about it and furthermore I found a similar gap in the neighborhood Kirana stores and salons. The penetration of the swipe machines in the Indian retail market is not more than 20-25%. There are several problems related to the already existing POS.Machines have rentals expensive, all the banks and the service providers charge a rental fee. Machines are prone to breakdowns and require repair and maintenance. Retailers need to maintain the machine, they need to charge it every day, they need a Bluetooth connection to connect it with the phone, they need a paper roll in case of old machines, they need ink and if it is out of order, they lose business. Similarly, for companies which are into home delivery or home services, riders face the inconvenience of carrying an extra hardware machine, network issues, breakdown issues, logistics issues for companies to arrange machines to the riders and many more such operational concerns. That’s whereAS plays a big role in taking away the need for swipe machines completely from the ecosystem. We incorporated the organization in 2017. We finally went live by the end of 2018 after a successful pilot,. Being the first movers, we learnt a lot from our customers and incorporated those learnings into the product for better experience and security. Today we have around 5000 retailers and around 4 corporates with us without any marketing, we have already conducted more than 1.5 lakh transactions on our platform with a GMV of >30 crores. We are now in the growth phase and plan to touch >500 crores of GMV in the next 24 months. In this period AS has plans to launch another 4 solutions to increase the portfolio offerings and revenue sources.
INSELLERS – How did you segment this big market and which segment did you target first? How was the journey, which retailers or which geographically did your target, which metrics did you use to evaluate it?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – We are not running after the big retailers, huge chains such as Spencers or Reliance, they are not my customers. AS is a perfect fit for micro small, medium retailers – spread anywhere, it doesn’t matter whether tier one, tier two, tier three, because now internet connections have become way better in the rural areas also. That is one target audience second is the freelancers, the makeup artists, tuition teachers, yoga teachers, gymnasts, and all these are the second categories of what we are looking at. Our third focus and one of the most critical ones are the corporates. So any corporate, which offers you home delivery service, or any home service, like Urban Company can be our client. Our application is integrated with their application. So if any rider wants to accept payment through a card, or UPI, so he can do so with a click of a button. Apart from these three segments, we are also focusing on collaboration with the banks and the fintechs. We are collaborating with fintechs and providing our software to them, which they can pass down to their already existing network of retailers.
INSELLERS – We would like to know about your main competitors like are these only the traditional machine manufacturer or there are other similar services as well?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – There is a company in the US, which was acquired by PayPal, which was trying to venture into the same technology as we are. However, in India obviously, because we have the patent, no other company so far is into this and even if somebody is there in this space, I am sure it will not be there for a long time because we have the advantage of having the patent, which can restrict the entry of any such company. Therefore, in conclusion, I believe all the machine providers are the main competitors.
INSELLERS – Any special strategy that you have adopted to tackle the competitors?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – So if you look at the dynamics, continuous innovation and reinvention is the key. Looking at the market, it is important that even companies which are into manufacturing of POS will have to enter the soft POS segment. So obviously to stay ahead of the other competitors we are constantly innovating, we are right now working on a very strong product of NFC, which is a tap and go, micro ATMs, distributor value chain, lending etc.
INSELLERS – When you went to the market, did you face any reluctance, or were the people forthcoming with your offering?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – Yes, absolutely. People were apprehensive that way. Why is there no machine? Or what will you do with the scanning? Is it safe? Is it authorized? We received all sorts of questions from people. That is when we started putting merchandise in the market at the retail level; we also put a lot of salesforce on the ground to build trust and gain market insights and transaction patterns. Once the retailers got the hold on it, it was an absolute pleasure seeing the surge in transactions. In Indian retail system, it’s important for retailers to have faith in your product as the majority of end consumers trust retailer’s recommendations & feedback about products & services.
INSELLERS – Talking about the various verticals in your organization, have you ever thought about outsourcing any of your verticals like when it comes to digital marketing or field sales?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – We had outsourced our salesforce and digital marketing for some time, along with our on roll employees, we also had a few salespeople from the third party. I think you cannot have people on board all the time, or you cannot keep adding more employees to the team. So what you do not have you outsource it because the focus of the employees should remain with the technology and operations.
INSELLERS – Could you throw some light on the core team of the AS technolutions?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – When I started I founded this company alone but was later joined by my co-founder. He brings with him more than 15 years of technology experience, he has worked in Wipro and Microsoft in the past.
I bring in more than 14 years of diversified experience spanning different organizations and departments, and even countries. I have worked with both banking and FMCG Company, so I have had a very good mix and match of required experience to manage an organization like AS. The founding team also consisted of two more people from my previous company; they looked into operations, as this field is very operation intensive. Along with that, we had three consultants; they are still there with us. Consulting is something, which I take very seriously. They keep giving their inputs in terms of what needs to be done and how in both the technology and operational front.
INSELLERS – What do you think are the future trends of this industry and your plan for the future? Are you looking to diversify things a bit?
ANUBHAV SAXENA – There are two trends in the coming future – one is absolutely the offerings, you see all the players are offering more than expectations; you just can’t be offering transactions. Our products and services need to become a one-stop solution. The second trend shall be the consolidations , You may see mergers and acquisitions in the coming future because working in silos, not will make sense for anyone.
INSELLERS – Any other advice you would want to give to other budding entrepreneurs.
ANUBHAV SAXENA – A couple of things, first of all, the most important thing is to try and join an incubator or an accelerator at a very early stage, it’s not that they need somebody to guide them all the time but because of this they merge to the ecosystem way faster. The second is that the founders should try to get rid of all sorts of liabilities before the start of the startup. The third would be that don’t wait for the product to become 100% ready, no product is 100% ready, launch your product when it’s 75% complete , and be very quick in adopting and learning, incorporating the changes and learnings back into the product. I would like to add one more point. Learn to be visible. Do not feel shy, be shameless, and learn to be visible to your customers, investors, and your ecosystem. These are the four things that new entrepreneurs can take into consideration before or while they are on their journey.