Hyderabad: Prione Business Services, a Catamaran and Amazon joint venture, is aiming to onboard 10 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the next three years from one lakh now. The company will expand its presence into 100 cities in India further connecting to tier-3 and tier-4 cities using hub-and-spoke model by working with partners and franchisees.
Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures is a proprietary, sector-agnostic, family office that invests in early stage and growing companies in India and overseas. Prione was founded by Catamaran and Amazon joint venture in 2014, with Catamaran holding a majority stake.
Prione MD & CEO Sandeep Varaganti told Telangana Today, “Our focus has been onboarding and enabling small and medium businesses (SMBs). We have so far onboarded 1,00,000 SMBs in India. We have in person contact with them, launch them on Amazon and train them on using the platform and logistics/advertising solutions. We have an internal team that trains these sellers. We take ownership of their life on Amazon for the first three months so that they become successful. We are trying to turn them into global brands. In Hyderabad alone, we have onboarded 6,500 SMBs and 10,000 across Telangana (including Hyderabad). Hyderabad businesses are technology savvy, which is helping them benefit from Amazon. We have created 34 crorepatis in the last one year on Amazon and many in the last four years. ”
Government of Telangana has been empowering handloom artisans. The State is known for its handloom base. Pochampally sarees are popular across the country. Access to these products in other States was becoming a challenge. So, Amazon has partnered with these artisans to give them wider market access. There was also a need to remove intermediation of middlemen so that both artisans and customers gain from it. Prione has onboarded 250 master weavers in Telangana, who in turn employ 50-100 weavers, impacting almost 2,000-3,000 weavers. There are plans to expand this footprint further in the State.
He informed, “Hyderabad, historically, has been a strong market for consumer electronics and books. Of the 34 crorepatis we created in Hyderabad on Amazon, in the last one year, 20 per cent are from Ayurveda and equal percentage is represented by jewellery businesses, which are the top emerging areas. Consumer electronics is still the largest category for Hyderabad.”
He added, “In the first year of our operations, we spread our presence to five cities, and between 2015 and 2017, we expanded to 30 cities. Later on we expanded this to 60 cities using our franchisee network. We have created a partner network in these 60 cities that gives us access to 150 cities across India, through hub and spoke model. For instance our office in Hyderabad works with artisans in Pochampally and businesses in Warangal.”
Delhi is the largest market for Prione, with about 25 per cent of the 1,00,000 businesses, followed by Mumbai and Jaipur with 15 per cent each, followed by Gujarat and Hyderabad. Hyderabad is currently top fifth market.
Prione plans to go to 45 new cities this year where Amazon doesn’t have fulfillment centres and 100 cities next year by creating mini-warehouses with the help of local partners, across India. Mini-warehouses could be created in Warangal and Karimnagar as part of the national plan.
The company has also been taking feedback from SMBs to introduce new features on Amazon that will help SMBs.
When asked about tier-3 strategy, Varaganti said, “We will expand into more tier-3 cities through our franchisee network. We are in 35 such cities already. Franchisees have brought 25,000 SMBs so far on to Amazon. We want to expand our franchisee network.”
Nationally, softlines, such as fast moving apparel, handbags, accessories, watches, jewellery contribute to about 40 per cent of Prione’s business portfolio, followed by hardlines comprising kitchenware, furnishings (curtains, bedsheets, cutlery, ovens etc) that account for 30 per cent of business, making them the top two categories.
Amazon helps SMBs get access to global markets such as US, Canada and Mexico in North America, and Germany, Italy, France, UK and Spain in Europe. They can also now sell to China, Japan, Australia and Dubai, added Varaganti.