SaaS-based Secondary Sales Automation and Monitoring Platform
Startup Name: Field Assist (Flick2Know Technologies)
Tagline: Transforming Businesses through Mobility
Founders: Paramdeep Singh, Nikhil Patwari, Apurv Gupta, Divir Tiwari, and Peeyush Jain.
Investors: SIDBI (Debt Funding)
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In developing economies like India, Africa, South-East Asia, Russia, etc. managing sales has been a herculean task, historically. They usually employ a massive sales force, with the help of distribution channels (traders, stockist, distributor, franchise, etc.) to the point of sales location in order to offer their product for the consumption to an end customer like you and me. The process of managing such a big team involves a lot of paperwork and has been traditionally done with a lot of human time effort.
Field Assist brings an innovative approach to manage, optimize and increase sales effectiveness with the help of an efficient mobile app, MIS dashboard and statistical tools to handle the tons of data generated throughout this process. It aims to make the system more dynamic, which could easily identify the gaps based on better data visualization, deep and rich analytics. Thus helping the higher management to take cognizant actions for overall improvement.
The product consists of all features which are expected in a Sales Automation tool such as Catalogue, Sales Capturing, Stock Taking, Outlet History, Expense Submission, Field Visibility, Live data, etc.
The Android application is designed in a way that it can run on any low-end android phones so that even after compiling so many data and communicating with GPS the field staff doesn’t have to worry about battery life. This helped them to reach out to SMEs which cannot invest in high-end devices.
Field Assist is offered as a SAAS offering to its clients which is charged as per user/month model. Field Assist Product is divided into 2 components,
- Field Assist App – Used by Field Staff for Intelligent Sales.
- Field Assist Dashboard – Used by Managers and Back End Staff for report generation and data analysis.
Services offered by Field Assist are divided into 4 modules,
- Coverage– It enables the company to track and monitor the progress of Field Staff.
- Call Management– It allows the company to record the transactions carried out at any
A point of sale like Order Booking, Stock Collection, and Payment Information.
- Survey– It enables the company to collect different type of data at any Point of Sale.
- Data Visualization/Analytics– It gives the company a better picture of the data generated in the field which will help them to define KPI’s of their business, monitor them and take necessary action on exceptions generated.
The complete data resides on Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform on Enterprise Reserved Instances to ensure the security of all the company’s data.
Field First is co-founded by,
- Paramdeep Singh, CEO – A Mechanical Engineer, with 8 years of entrepreneurial experience in FMCG Industry.
- Nikhil Patwari, COO – A Mining Engineer from IIT Dhanbad, heads the Operations.
- Apurv Gupta, Co-founder and CTO – An Electronics Engineer from IIT Dhanbad, heads the Product segment of the company.
- Divir Tiwari, Co-Founder and CBDO – A Mining Engineer from IIT Dhanbad, heads the Business Development division of the organization.
- Peeyush Jain, Co-Founder and CMO – An Electronics Engineer from IIT Dhanbad, heads marketing division of the company.
Team, field Assist
Field Assist was launched in 2013, and at during the initial phases, they had difficulties in convincing companies to adopt the platform due to both infrastructure issues and market visibility of the company. But it started gaining traction within 8-9 months of launch, and in the last couple of years, the company has captured more than 50 national-international brands mainly from Apparels, FMCG, and CPG industry. Some of the largest clients include ITC, Raymond, Levis, Mahindra & Mahindra, DS Group, Star TV, GD Foods, Anmol Bakers Biscuits.
As there is an enormous opportunity in the market and the team is operating after government’s push to Make in India campaign and high growth in MSME sector, they see Field Assist as an essential tool in future for doing traditional trade which still occupies 95% in South Asia. And there are similar opportunities that are present in other developing countries as well, and the team has already started expanding their base outside of India.
The parent company Field Assist was incubated in CIIE (Entrepreneurship Cell of IIMA) in 2010 and received seed funding from there for their QR Code Marketing platform. In January 2014, Field Assist got selected for 9th batch of Startup Chile and received a grant of 40K USD. Apart from that they recently secured debt funding from SIDBI.
In conversation with Paramdeep,
Paramdeep says that they got their first customer when they created the first working prototype of Field Assist for one of their existing clients of their QR code marketing platform. After that, they went to the market and built the second version of Field Assist based on the market feedback. Given their entrepreneurial background and team’s diversity and experience, one of the largest socks manufacturers in India gave them the opportunity and implemented Field Assist.
He shares the biggest challenge faced in the journey was when the organization was catering to B2B markets in India, most of the times they end up being service companies due to high customization demands from customers and cheap availability of alternate IT resources to build customized solutions. We can definitely make quick money by building custom solutions for enterprises and being a bootstrapped startup it was a very lucrative proposition for the team, but they have tried their best to keep the urge at bay.
The challenge was overcome with the help of their amazing group of mentors. He says that their mentors helped them a lot in terms of taking the right decisions. At times when they were getting drifted away or were indecisive about the next action, their advice has always proved to be the ultimate guidance for them to find the right way. Paramdeep quotes that, “Apart from that, we have also tried our best not to get lured by easy opportunities and keep our focus on the product. In the course, we have even lost some business, but we always believe that it was a good trade off. We have also tried to keep our team diversified by hiring people from different backgrounds so that we always have different perspectives on both problems and opportunities; that makes the decision making faster, easier and more efficient.”
The biggest learning for him in his journey is, “Perseverance is the key and above all, the team is more important than the idea itself.” He says that they learned a lot from their mentor Mr. Vijay Shukla (co-founder of Value First). He shares that their best learning from him was, there was a time when an investor was running behind us to take money, and we were really excited, as an investment means success. We asked his advice on taking that money, and his opinion was, “Before taking the money, you should see who is giving you that money. Investment is like a marriage and for a successful marriage getting a good partner is really essential. Secondly, why do you need money is very important. Be it investor’s money or your money, it is not wise to spend it without a clear roadmap, one must value money.”
The main competitors they face right now are IVY Mobility, Bizom, and Fieldmax. He shares that, “The strategy to outpace our competitors is by giving the customers right dynamic metrics at the right point of time, which can help them to take immediate measures. We are investing a lot of time and energy to achieve this goal which is surely going to keep us ahead of our competitors.”
Paramdeep’s advice to new entrepreneurs in the market is, “Do a proper market research and then have complete faith in your product. Keep your ears open for market feedback and be open to frequent iterations at the early stage. Persistence is the key to entrepreneurship, but that often applies to the person and not always to the idea.”
Paramdeep believes that “One should not seek funding until and unless the plan for recovering that funding at a later stage is clear to the founding team. You have ultimately started an enterprise to make business and generate profits. Seeking funds is only a step in between which gives you relief from worrying about finances for a short span of time.”