Setting up a business doesn’t just end with registering the company. Once the registration is over, companies or startups have to take care of a gamut of other functions, which require liaising with a slew of agencies and vendors, be it digital marketing activities, PR, market research, branding, media planning, lead generation and HR needs.
For founders who often turn to informal networks such as WhatsApp groups or recommendations, Gurugram-based startup GroCurv has a solution.
A B2B services procurement platform, GroCurv helps businesses accelerate their growth by quite simply determining the three most relevant agencies for each business problem. The startup, which was set up in January 2019, use an artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithm for the purpose.
Pivoting to success
Former colleagues at Airtel, Ventakesh Rangachar and Vipul Gupta, founded HyperSonic Advisory, a boutique consultancy for early-stage companies in 2017.
HyperSonic would help companies scale with sales and marketing services, digital agencies, lead generation, and distribution systems. “After working with 40 clients, we realised that by digitising our service offering, we could reach more clients and bring in more service providers and agencies into play,” says Ventakesh, 46.
They exited HyperSonic in August 2018 and launched GroCurv the following year.
GroCurv claims to change the way high value services are bought and sold.
“By curating the agencies, we can ensure quality. And by using sharp algorithms, we bring the three most relevant agencies to each business problem, making the process quick, transparent and reliable,” Venkatesh adds.
Team of experts
Venkatesh’s last corporate role was that of Chief Operating Officer at Airtel, in Delhi. Subsequently, he was the Business Head at Shuttle.com. Prior to that, he has worked with Unilever, Hewlett Packard, and Michelin. Venkatesh is an MBA from IIM Bangalore and INSEAD.
Venkatesh is at the helm of the startup’s business development and acquisition of service providers. He also manages the finance and marketing at GroCurv.
Vipul, 33, on the other hand, is the former Head of Business Development at Practo, and was a part of the management team at Qikwell. He has also worked with organisations like Accenture, Apollo Tyres, and PepsiCo. Vipul is an engineer from National Institute of Technology, Rourkela and an MBA from Management Development Institute in Gurugram.
GroCurv has a small team that works out of the Bengaluru and Gurugram offices.
Finding the top three
GroCurv helps clients make precise project briefs, which are then matched with an AI-based proprietary algorithm to the right service providers. Additionally, there are modules for creating contracts, invoices, and collaboration between clients and agencies, as and when the project is executed.
Interestingly, GroCurv matches the clients with only three service providers or agencies, as best suited with the client needs.
“We do not showcase hundreds of results like a search engine,” Venkatesh says.
But how does the algorithm work?
Once the detailed brief with the problem statement and requirement is made, it is run through the algorithm which uses keywords to identify the best service providers that can solve for the client’s needs. The three shortlisted agencies are then presented to the client on a dashboard, along with comprehensive information about the agency and its suitability for the client.
Venkatesh adds, “Case studies, testimonials, credentials, social listening are all part of this information pack for each service provider shortlisted for the client.”
Clients then take a call and select the agency they wish to engage with. The platform facilitates telecon interactions between the client and the agencies. All conversations and information exchange happen within GroCurv’s platform.
“The platform learns from each of these interactions to help clients and vendors respond better and faster to each other, leading to a 20 percent closure rate for projects,” he says.
Finally, the contract is signed between the client and the agency that has the best proposal. The platform can also help manage the project, if desired by the client.
GroCurv does not charge the client for any of these services and, instead, takes a commission from the agencies or service providers.
Targeting service providers
GroCurv’s first set of clients came from the various entrepreneur groups that Venkatesh and Vipul were a part of. They participated in various founder meets at different platforms, including at YourStory, to build their community.
Bio Resurge, The Moms Co., Kapiya Ayurveda and Josh Talks were some of GroCurv’s early clients. Other clients of the startup include DSM, Swiggy, Kapiva, Sureclaim, and i2e1.
According to the founders, since inception, GroCurv has had over 650 projects on its platform.
“With the data that we have now, we have been able to use technology to advise clients on how to make a good project brief and ascertain aspects such as right budgets, KPIs, and the results to expect,” says Venkatesh.
He adds that the number of service providers working with the startup has doubled every quarter thanks to high closure rate.
Currently, GroCurv offers services of 400 agencies on its platform from across the country, including non-metros like Ahmedabad, Baroda, and Surat.
Venkatesh states an example:
“Whirlwind, a digital agency from Ahmedabad, has received opportunities from industries and locations where its business development was not as strong. GroCurv has helped it add over Rs 10 lakh to its revenue within five months of signing up.”
Initially bootstrapped with Rs 40 lakh, GroCurv has so far raised Rs 1.6 crore from angel investors and industry veterans.
The founders say the startup has tripled its revenues in the last 12 months, and has seen a 40 percent quarter-on-quarter growth.
Market overview and future plans
Venkatesh pegs marketing spends in India to be a $25 billion sector, growing at 15 percent per annum. Outsourced sales and hiring is a $10 billion market. “These industry and trade figures tracked over a period of time provides us a huge opportunity to tap the market at this stage,” he says.
GroCurv’s competitors include the likes of US-based Globality, UK-based ShortList, and US-based AgencyFinder. However, Venkatesh believes that its holistic approach differentiates GroCurv from the rest of the players.
The startup is now looking to geographically expand to Southeast Asia and open more verticals like legal, finance, and HR. It is also planning to raise a fresh round of investments from partners.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)