Alum Ventures: Vinculum Solutions – Venkataramana Rao Nott, PGP 1995
Digital platforms have transformed the way how the global markets look and continue to do so. Vinculum is one such leading player in the market that is creating a much-desired platform for expanding business and customer base. Founded by Venkat Nott in the year 2007, it now boasts of 300 plus customers and 150 global integrations. Vinculum is helping brands and sellers to sell and fulfill across channels with a SaaS platform for Omni channel retailing.
An up-close interview with Venkat Rao Nott.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
A sports buff, Multi-Lingual ( Speak Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, English and can follow more than a few Bengali words n sentences) – Lucky to have traveled and lived in many countries including Australia- Sydney, New Zealand – Auckland, Hong Kong, Singapore, India. Positive, Persistent, Dependable, Gritty would be some of the words that define me.
What got you interested in the e-commerce sector? How did you get started?
As part of my role in HCL, I was running retail and supply chain verticals in Asia. My stint in HCL gave me exposure to customers, business partners and colleagues with experience in the retail and supply chain industry. The exposure I got in HCL to startup many offices for HCL across Asia set me up for my entrepreneurial journey. We tried many things that did not take off. It took us time to identify the right product-market fit. The opening up of eCommerce in India / Asia was an opportunity we latched onto. We have had to keep making changes to our business model to refine it. When the right product-market fit and a differentiated business model go together, you then have the opportunity to dominate.
What are the services/ products offered by Vinculum? Who is your typical customer? What are the customer benefits?
Vinculum has a SaaS platform that helps brands to sell on any sales channel ( Webstore, Marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Zalora, etc, Social Channels, Offline Retail and through Distributors) and fulfill from any location ( Own Warehouses, 3PL warehouses, Marketplace led fulfillment, Distributor Warehouses and inventory in stores. We have ready integrations to 80+ marketplaces, a variety of web store platforms ( Shopify, Magento etc), 80+ 3PLs and select ERPs/ POS systems.
The base use case is to help brands to sell across both online and offline sales channels. This could be broken into
a) Using a centralized data hub to manage product information across both online and offline channels
b) Helping Brands and Retailers automatically list their catalog and sell on multiple marketplaces ie create content once and push it to global sales channels at the click of a button
c) Helping Brands and Retailers Manage Returns and Payment reconciliations
d) Enable Omni Channel retailing for retailers by managing orders and inventory realtime across all fulfillment locations
e) Automate Warehouses and enable B-B and B-C fulfillment
Customers of our omnichannel platform include many well-known brands such as Bata, Titan, Harman, Riwa, J an J, Jockey, GHC, Manyavar, Soch, Jaypore, FabIndia, Puma, Arvind Brands, etc. , Retailers such as Dairy Farm International, Coco Group, Eiger Indo Indonesia, Marketplaces like Nykaa, Grofers, Swiggy, Sasto, Presto, 3PLs such as DHL, DTDC, Blue Dart, Janio, JNE, LBC, etc and Brand Distributors such as SSIPL, Olympia Industries, Brand Nexity USA, On Point Vietnam, FM Global, etc
In addition to the SaaS platform, we have created a closed network of category-specific, digital-savvy brand distributors ( All customers). We have created an ecosystem of partners to be an importer on record, custom clearance, content creation, and digital marketing. Brands work with us to identify markets, channels to sell, analyze key competitors and price points to sell. This allows brands to easily go global from their home base. We are working with a variety of promising to established brands using our network of brand distributors to go global. This business model innovation has made a very positive impact to our saas business as well. On average, we are adding 20+ customers per month today and we expect to double our SaaS revenues year on year.
Who has/ been your mentor/s or inspiration?
There are many people who inspire you from different walks of life. Given that we have solid investors like Accel Partners, IvyCap Ventures, RB Investments and a very experienced Angel in Song Hoi See ( Owner of Plaza Premium Lounges), there is always help on hand for any topic or query. The ecosystem of both investors and founders in other portfolio companies is very powerful and helps you to handle any situation you face. Many aspects of the disruption caused by Covid was easily handled due to the planning sessions on multiple topics arranged by investors. That is a major help.
Other than the same, I have a close set of friends/ mentors who I lean on for different areas of work. I typically talk to mentors on multiple topics including structure/ process improvements and ways to remove organization/ team limiters. More broadly, I admire the all-round capability of a Sampras/ Federer/ Iniesta/Messi/ Kohli, the grit of a Pujara/Kumble/ Dravid, the ability to write like a Jeffrey Archer or a power-packed performer like a Manoj Bajpayee. One learns something from each one of them.
If someone wants to avail of your services, who can they connect to?
Our website www.vinculumgroup.com is the easiest way to reach us. Write to email@example.com. I am reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s the best advice you have received?
During one of the sessions, Girish Founder of Freshworks and a leader in the SaaS industry said- Remember people can advise you but only you have the context of the situation you are in. Take advice, but remember only you have the context. Use that to make the right decisions. So simple but so powerful.
Any advice for young alums?
Read multiple diverse topics. Build multiple skills. You must be both a specialist and a generalist in today’s world. Build a strong network of friends and peers. They will open doors for doing deals, getting jobs, doing startups and being extremely successful. Use the strength of your Alumni network.
Any plans of engagement with IIMB?
I have been keen to be associated with the Supply Chain Centre in IIMB. I would be keen to make it happen this year.
What are your fondest memories from campus days at IIMB?
They are way too many. Most of them revolved around friendships on the campus. A few interesting facts.
a) I have done a few rounds of funding for Vinculum. Each major fundraise has gone to a referee who is a classmate/friend in IIM Bangalore. Needless to say- each time that happened, we were successful in completing the fundraise.
b) I have been bailed out multiple times by friends/ juniors in IIM B as part of my entrepreneurial journey. While it may not classify as a favorite moment, it is the power of the alumni network and the friendships you create on campus and wherever you go that makes the difference.