An Interaction with Co-founder & CEO of Rozana

Ankur Dahiya, Co-founder & CEO of Rozana
Ankur Dahiya, Co-founder & CEO of Rozana

‘Rozana’ aspires to be India's largest peer-to-peer model focused on asset-light sourcing. In the next five years, the company hopes to establish 4-5 million active peers across India. Rozana offers peers the opportunity to become wealth creators with no investments. This model will assist people who want to create wealth for themselves in igniting their entrepreneurial spirit.

Krishi Jagran interacted with Ankur Dahiya, Co-Founder & CEO of Rozana to know more about how his company is changing the lives of the villagers through economic empowerment.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

I come from rural Haryana. Growing up, I saw how difficult it was for villagers to procure ‘city-grade’ products as the supply chain was crippled. The delivery process was far from hassle-free due to the lack of organized delivery systems. Recognizing the need of changing the lives of the villagers through economic empowerment is what motivated me to start Rozana. I discussed the idea with Adwait Vikram Singh and we started Rozana in 2021 along with Mukesh Christopher and Prithvi Pal Singh. That early experience made me more determined to sell the best-priced sustenance to the rural populace.

Rozana enables you to become a peer, allowing you to support your family while also focusing on developing a side hustle. We reasoned that if we could make Rozana more accessible by creating rural entrepreneurs, we could assist many more people in becoming financially independent.

2. What is the problem Rozana is trying to solve through its offerings?

More than 90% of Indians have never used online commerce in India. The current startups are majorly working on acquiring the 150 million online users while works on a phygital strategy designed for 1 billion-plus under-served Indians living in rural and semi-rural areas. The legacy brands have largely not been able to design products or maintain supply chains to cater to a vast majority of India’s population living in rural and semi-rural areas. Rozana is working on a micro entrepreneur-based model which helps the platform to understand the demand and help design products for the majority of Indians.

The unique village-by-village strategy of our platform is driving product innovation, demand and supply optimization for a new era of D2C brands for over 1 billion Indians. Our ‘peer’ powered platform has been modeled on social commerce, leverages AI for enhanced capabilities, and caters to rural users.

3. Throw some light on your business model. What is your monetization model?

Rozana is a peer-to-peer rural commerce startup that aims to connect the rural population of the country to online rural commerce through a network of micro-entrepreneurs. Rozana uses technology and data science to meet the unique local needs of 1 billion Indians that are not met by any online commerce. This population of 1 billion Indians rely on unorganized retail kiranas unlike urban India which had access to organized retail stores even before e-commerce came into the country. 

Given the unique P2P commerce model, the peers at Rozana play 3 critical roles:

  • Onboarding Consumers: The first is to onboard new consumers by spreading awareness and training villagers about the Rozana app and website. We directly procure products from the brands, thus eliminating the intermediaries and delivering it to the village.

  • In-Village deliveries: The second business function includes delivering the products within the village. The Peer Partner delivers the products within the village to his/her consumers. This helps Rozana save last mile cost. Since the peers live within a close distance to the customers, we either make deliveries to the customer's doorstep or act as pick-up points for customers.

  • Forwarding Promotional Deals: The partner looks at forwarding all relevant deals and discounts to shoppers via popular social media channels like SMS and WhatsApp to the village. This helps Rozana run promotional campaigns for new products and brands. The entrepreneurs become our enablers, and we create a tech-enabled ecosystem for them to order and supply products within their village. 

About the monetization model, Rozana directly procures products from the brands, thus eliminating the intermediaries and delivering them to peers. This allows us to operate an asset-light model by keeping minimal inventory at hand and passing on maximum margins to our exclusive agents. This is a win-win for all as producers get better gate prices and peers earn a 4-8% commission on each delivery. We earn a margin on every financial transaction that takes place on our platform.

Some of the key monetization pointers are:

  • Wider product portfolio to increase margins

  • Whitelabel and D2C brands to capture the imagination of aspiring rural consumers

  • Using data and consumer insights launching innovative products for rural India

  • Use consumer insights to work with brands on getting marketing budgets for rural India

  • Use new-age innovations like evs in the future for reducing logistics costs.

4. What technologies have you been leveraging to disrupt the agricultural space in the country?

Rozana is using artificial intelligence to grow its business so that a whole new generation becomes financially independent by working as entrepreneurs. This also helps us expand the online B2C market in the remotest parts of the country.

The rural commerce startup uses AI and big data analytics to delve into people’s purchasing behavior and understand consumer demand. Also, the insights afforded by geolocation data help it zero in on people’s preference for each brand/product in each area and revamp the supply chain. The startup also takes feedback from its peer partners who are locals and people who know what products work in a specific area and what don’t.

5. How do you compare and contrast India’s agriculture sector with that of other economies?

India's agricultural sector is extremely large. While the sector's share of GDP has dropped to around 15% in the last 30 years, it still employs roughly half of India's workers and is responsible for much of the country's economic volatility. India has the world's second-largest arable land area and is a major producer of a variety of agricultural goods. India surpassed the United States as the world's largest producer of milk around the turn of the century, and it is also a major producer of pulses like chickpeas and lentils, which are important sources of protein in vegetarian diets.

6. What is the product/service enhancement roadmap?

Rozana’s mission is to be the ‘Go-To’ platform for 10% of the world’s population. We plan to expand and deepen our presence in Pan India to serve 1 billion plus Indians residing in the rural areas who remain under-served and rely almost on unorganized stores that are incapable of catering to the demand.

7. Elaborate on the present market scenario. What kind of business opportunities do you see in this segment?

More than 70% of Indians live in rural areas, this amounts to 1 billion people or 10% of the world's population. Almost half of India’s 3 trillion-dollar economy is from rural India with no organized retail player (offline or online).

The e-commerce sector in India has evolved rapidly in the past few years, spinning out intriguing variations like D2C (direct-to-consumer) and social commerce. Undoubtedly, the consumers’ willingness to shop everything online — from food to grocery, apparel to electronics — has emerged as a critical growth driver in this space.

8. What gives your company a competitive advantage?

We are one of India's first rural commerce platforms. India has scores of e-commerce sites that have brought consumer revolution in urban India with a focus on metro cities. The platforms are focused on urban India, while Rozana is focused on 6 lac villages of India. Over 1 billion Indians, living in rural India remain severely underserved by organized retail.

Legacy brands and larger e-commerce companies find it tough to set up an efficient supply chain in remote villages, or even generate demand in areas, while Rozana has an unconventional approach of working in predominantly rural and semi-rural areas, which remains largely untapped.

The unique village-by-village strategy of our platform is driving product innovation, demand and supply optimization for a new era of D2C brands for over 1 billion Indians. Our ‘peer’ powered platform has been modeled on social commerce, leverages AI for enhanced capabilities and caters to rural users.

9. Lastly, what are your expansion plans for the coming 2-3 years?

We are aggressively working on a roadmap at onboarding 300 Mn customers in the next two to three years and for this, we will be utilizing our latest round of funding. Owing to the overwhelming response, we are now eyeing every gram of panchayat. For this, we have already initiated our operations beyond North India, beginning with Karnataka. We aim to diversify our product portfolio to cater to the growing aspirations of rural India, and create more women entrepreneurs and in turn livelihoods through our P2P commerce platform.

(Author- Shivam Dwivedi)

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