How European Has Built Successful Indian Business: The Bible of Car Parts

Interview
 
13 November 2017 416

In order to start a business from scratch abroad, one would need the knowledge of foreign market’s specifics, extensive resources and willingness to overcome any obstacles and achieve success.

 

Founders of boodmo.com - an online auto car spare parts market situated in India, knew what they were going for and can now proudly call their offspring a top Indian online car parts marketplace.

Currently, boodmo.com is a “№1 online marketplace to sell or buy genuine car parts”. Being a business conception of a grand scale, it was taken on by the two founders Yevgen Sokolnikov CEO of boodmo and his partner Aleksander Danylenko, who were not frightened by the project’s size and strict demands. A great deal of time and resources spent on the project’s launch, eventually, paid off and now, we are looking at a profitable, highly praised in India and beyond, soon-to-be self-sufficient business.

 

- OpsWay: Your store 3 years ago: how was it?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: 3 years ago our project was on initial stage of a business conception. Approximately at that time, in the middle of 2014, I visited India for the first time ever, along with my partner Aleksandr Danylenko. We came there by request of a private investor to figure out the business environment and the possibilities of entrance to the market.

 

Yevgen had 13 years of work experience in eCommerce in the field of household goods and electronics; Aleksandr had similar work experience in the field of auto parts as well as extensive knowledge in finances. The partners came to India for a week and, during that time, held conversations with market majors as well as representatives of logistics companies, startups, law firms and marketing agencies.

“The things we saw made us think that we wanted to bite off more than we could chew: the market was literally torn apart by the majors.” - says Yevgen. “Such giants as Amazon, Flipkart, SnapDeal, Ebay invested billions in order to keep up with the struggle for supremacy. Literally on the second day of our being in India we decided against entering the market with eCommerce project in the category of consumer goods.”

 

The rest of their visit’s time was spent studying other markets and niches, the one of which they paid attention to, was car parts online. “We noticed that the niche is completely unoccupied.” - Yevgen notes. “With market value of $40 billion there wasn’t a single soul working online. We saw an opportunity and seized the moment, as they say.”

 

The work had started as soon as the partners got back to Ukraine: entrepreneurs worked over the market, defined a problem, ordered some researches, carefully checked problem solving model, developed a business plan and, eventually, received investor’s green light. All the said above took 3 months.

“We were not able to transfer technical developments from Ukraine to India as it was a totally new field and model not just to us.” - Tells our hero. “There was no one, in the frame of global market, who could provide working software in this field. So, we decided to start everything from scratch. Supposedly, we were going to use Magento as a platform, but chose OpsWay instead; it seemed to be a best fitting vendor for us.”

“The main things that help one stand among competitors are, surely, perseverance and sense of purpose.”

The partners commenced project engineering and development in association with OpsWay in November of 2014. Gradually, in March of 2015, Yevgen and Aleksander moved to India and started organizational work (establishment of legal entity and office, recruitment of employees etc.). A month later, their families joined them abroad and they have lived and worked there ever since.

- OpsWay: Your store 1 year ago: how was it?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: A year ago, in August of 2016, we were preparing for the first sales via our marketplace. We knew that a structured info as to parts’ compatibility and replacers is required in order to sell them online, simply finding suppliers and posting goods on a website is not enough. This moment is easily solved in Europe and CIS nations, where one can buy a license through TecDoc, receive access to constantly updated information and forget about any possible accompanying problems. Such solution would not work in the case of India though, as 80% of Indian vehicles are manufactured locally. There are local manufacturers such as TATA, Mahindra, FORCE and there are global ones such as Suzuki, Toyota, Honda etc. Each local manufacturer produces individual vehicles for Indian market.

 

Entrepreneurs knew from the get-go that TecDoc would not be appropriate for them. During the first two years of active development they collected the database. The partners gathered information from all the possible sources: PDF catalogues, online manufacturers’ portals, paper catalogues. Each and every automaker structures data by their own personal standards. The objective was to collect everything into a single database of a universal format. 15 Indian employees had been working on this task for 2 years before entrepreneurs made their debut sale.

 

The team still works on database to this day, as its support must be continuous. The database is our undeniable unique selling proposition and its development cannot be repeated in short period of time. We did a tremendous deal of work and started our sales in September of 2016. Now, they call us the “Bible of car parts” on Indian forums. 

- OpsWay: How much money did you need to start a business?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: We invested around $2 million during 3 years of project’s existence and, factually, hit our planned target. The investments are still in place and will be for about next 2 years. We believe that in the future the project will achieve the state of self sufficiency.

“Do not get your hopes down and do not despair if something does not work out.”

- OpsWay: How did you come up with a decision to start a business?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: It would have been foolish losing such an opportunity. The market was very valuable and, considering its specifics and required knowledge, there were no business competitors online.

 

Yevgen and Aleksandr started launching their thing immediately after realizing how beneficial and profitable the business could potentially be. The work was hard and times were difficult, but they achieved their goal and now, they are looking at soon-to-be self-sufficient project.

 

Currently, the company employes 37 workers all of whom are located in India.

- OpsWay: What is unique about your business which makes you stand out from competitors?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: I believe that we, gradually, understood the scale of what we were about to establish and that helped us be more dedicated to our job. Gathering a universal database was difficult and time-consuming and we were ready for it, because we knew how well it could pay off. The main things that help one stand among competitors are, surely, perseverance and sense of purpose.

 

Nowadays, most of Yevgen’s and his partner’s time is dedicated to development of company’s internal processes and staff training. The company has been hiring people for a long time and Yevgen came to a conclusion that it is better to employ beginners who possess some knowledge in the field of motor vehicle construction & layout and train them.

 

- OpsWay: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: My most important piece of advice to beginners is to simply begin! Do not get your hopes down and do not despair if something does not work out.

 

- OpsWay: How did you choose your eCommerce platform and do you like it?

- Yevgen Sokolnikov: As I have already mentioned, frontend’s platform should have supposedly been Magento, but it was not appropriate enough.

We developed our project requirements and the platform could not launch the prototype. Magento was unable to work properly with the base consisting of 40 million parts featuring a great deal of cross-links. The processing speed was insufficient, so we tried a bunch of other solutions (one of which was Akeneo). All of them were inappropriate for us though, for a number of reasons.

Unfortunately, the partners had to spend 3-4 months looking for the desired technology and eventually, collectively decided on full customization. They utilize SaaS solutions where it is possible, as it is much cheaper than writing one’s own software.

 

According to Yevgen they use: QuickBooks and ZohoBooks for accounting; ZohoReports for products analytics; Highrise as a CRM system; OWOX BI and BigQuery for general analytics. But the engine itself is custom.

 

3 years later, the co-founder can confidently say that custom platform was indeed an elaborate decision that greatly helped him and his partner achieve their current positions on eCommerce market.

 

The desire to be unique and recognizable combined with a strong enough desire to do something your own can pave the way to great heights. Let the example of our hero be an inspiration for you on your way to ultimate success!

Author:
Petro Borysov

Digital marketer, content writer. Living the life, writing articles, getting things done.