Scaling down Wishbook
I founded Wishbook to modernize India’s small business dominated fashion retail industry. I had seen the challenges in this distribution setup, from a manufacturer to retail personally. Few organizations have successfully built software solutions for small business processes.
Manufacturers and traders need distribution chain visibility to survive. COVID has expedited this realization by years. B2B transactions are hard to put on a platform – adoption requires sellers and buyers with many-to-many relationships to be users. Our B2B marketplace delivered initial new business/supplier benefit to the merchants, driving adoption, while some sellers moved their existing business on our integrated B2B channel sales SaaS solution.
We built a product, raised a seed round, and got some sustainable, high margin traction on the marketplace without any marketing spend. It should have been an ideal time to push the main SaaS offering to digitize the channel sales. Yet, we opted to not resume new transactions after the COVID lockdown.
Why we scaled down
It was a hard decision. We owe our users an explanation.
While the marketplace was transactionally profitable, we had fixed costs. Many overlapping companies had raised a lot more capital. Our clear differentiator – the interplay of channel sales SaaS with the marketplace, needed a good dedicated time and founder bandwidth to demonstrate.
Being a lesser funded company in a hyper-funded space didn’t help with fundraising. We were out of money. We could have possibly taken a small capital, but would that give us runaway or resources to prove our moat out well? Or, we could opt to chase the super aggressive growth path of a capital fuelled B2B marketplace – something we didn’t believe in building.
There’s a fine line between rigidity and perseverance. Entrepreneurs often get attached to what they believe or built – it’s a hard call to step out. We built something valuable, and we were keen to have our existing users continue to derive value from Wishbook. Another better-funded organization expressed interest in acquiring Wishbook and take it forward. All paperwork was done, and the transition was to be completed by April 2020. COVID probably affected the new organization’s own plans resulting in the transaction falling through.
We take pride in taking an industry need and building a group up first of its kind product. We have influenced closely some of the newer products digitizing small business B2B transactions. Through mistakes, we have gone far with our users’ support. This is where the journey stops for now.
You have reconciled and cleared all accounts. However, you can still reach us on email@example.com for any issues. Thank you for your support and business.
– Arvind Saraf (Founder, Wishbook)