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Rural commerce start-up RubanBridge on-boards 1,000 new village entrepreneurs, 700 delivery associates

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on September 21, 2020 Published on September 21, 2020

Madan Padaki, co-founder and CEO, RubanBridge Pvt Ltd

RubanBridge Pvt Ltd, a social start-up that provides last-mile products and services to rural Indians, has on-boarded 1,000 new rural entrepreneurs and 700 delivery associates to cater to demand surge during the upcoming Diwali festival season sales.

Since its inception in 2016, the start-up has set up a digitally-enabled rural commerce network in 62 districts and 5,000 plus villages across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, which caters to a 5-million-strong consumer network.

The start-up’s technology driven, assisted commerce brand called 1Bridge is powered by local entrepreneurs (1Bridge Advisors) comprising of local and Kirana store owners who empower Brands to tap a $55-billion market opportunity in the rural towns of India.

The 1Bridge business model integrates the online and offline worlds, wherein these 1Bridge Advisors engage with local consumers to understand their needs and preferences, acquaint them with relevant products and services shown on the 1Bridge mobile app and enable digital shopping transactions. Rural consumers can register, browse, enquire, order and buy anything from a mobile phone to a tractor without having to be tech savvy or mobile savvy.

Fund raise

“With our recent additions, we now have a network of 6,600 plus 1Bridge Advisors and Delivery Associates who are trained and through which we have enabled 2.7 million digital transactions and over 20 million delivery transactions, generating ₹15 crore in income for our entrepreneurs till date. We have upended the Covid-19 lockdown period by not only crossing our highest revenue to date and becoming EBITDA positive for the year-to-date (April-Aug 2020), but have also raised ₹3 crore in a pre-Series A round of funding,” Madan Padaki, co-founder and CEO, RubanBridge Pvt Ltd, told BusinessLine.

This pre-series A funding was led by institutional investor C4D Partners which is a Dutch impact investment fund which has been supporting 1Bridge since 2017 & existing and new angel investors such as Prashanth Boccasam, Mohan Alexander, Rangarajan P and Sujit Chakrabarty.

The start-up grossed revenue of ₹28 crore in FY20 and is targeting to exit FY 21 with ₹50 crore and is looking to raise ₹20-25 crore, which will be utilised towards scaling its operations across more States.

Demand spike

Pointing out that rural demand is expected to surge during the upcoming Diwali season sales, as a result of bumper harvest expected this year in some of the states and a lot of money flowing in to villages through government schemes like MGNREGA, Padaki said, “From April to July 2020, we saw a 2X jump in demand compared to the same period in 2019. From 6.6 million deliveries in FY 20, we expect to nearly double it to 11 million this fiscal from our e-commerce and other customers like Amazon, Myntra, Snapdeal, Bharat Financial Inclusion along with number 3 or 4 brands across categories.”

“During Covid-lockdown rural consumers for the first time took to shopping for their monthly groceries online. We also saw robust demand for electronics and mobile accessories as well as personal care/health and wellness products such as face creams, beauty packs/masks, chyawanprash, among others. We have also introduced a variety of digital services like AEPS-based cash withdrawals, Direct Money Transfers, e-gold savings etc. We help 1Bridge Advisors increase their monthly earnings by around ₹8,000-10,000 per month,” added Padaki.

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Published on September 21, 2020
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