You have raised Rs 139 crore (USD 22 million) from the venture capital firm B Capital Group and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). What are the implications?
With the fresh round of funding, Bizongo aims towards building the packaging ecosystem with a sharp focus on technology, design and packaging categories.
In what way will you boost capacity to keep up with demand and shape up for future growth?
The technology aspect will be important from the point of view of surpassing the current standards for turnaround time. This would require a strong emphasis on the adoption of technology within our supplier and buyer community. Packaging design will form another important pillar in shaping the future growth.
Will there be an increase in the scope of offerings with additional packaging categories?
Yes. Undeniably, at the core of all the action would be the people enabling this next phase of growth. Consequently, there is a continued focus to on-board culturally fit and talented individuals into the growing team.
Last year you said your clients included Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, FirstCry, Bunge and TataCliq, among others. What type of packaging solutions are you providing to these majors?
In the current scope, we characterise our solutions as primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging depending on the problem our clients are trying to solve. For some clients, the solution involves procuring packaging products from our distributed partner network to match their requirement. Some other clients may require a more comprehensive solution involving product design or development or both.
How do you optimise the packaging procurement cycle for your diverse set of clients in the midst of a fragmented supplier base?
Through ProcurePlus and Seller technology solutions are at the crux of it. They hold together our various services.
Pharma is a new segment; what with aid transaction volumes being boosted significantly. How are you readying your team for pharma?
Not pharma but FMCG has been our new focus industry since the last two quarters. In the upcoming quarter, there will be a razor sharp focus towards developing our portfolio and expertise in the FMCG segment. In this regard, we will be ramping up the scope of primary and secondary packaging products to include a diverse range of packaging products and solutions for FMCG industry.
Have you identified any particular areas in this huge FMCG segment?
Another line item on our to-do list is to focus on niche FMCG packaging materials and products which make up around 20% of the packaging spend. An essential piece of this puzzle would be identifying new sourcing channels without restricting ourselves to certain geographies.
Bizongo plans to expand the seller base from the current 250-300 to over 1,000 and increase active buyers from the existing 100 to about 1,000 in two years. When your growth is blitzing at such a pace, how do you keep the operations ethical?
As an organisation, Bizongo has been built on some very strong values. We refer to these values as CULT which stands for Collaboration, Upscaling, Leadership, and Transparency. These values define us and get reflected in every communication and at every interface at Bizongo. Transparency is how we keep our operations ethical. In the past we have let go clients where these fundamentals of transparency could not be met and we will continue to do so in the future, without any compromise.
One of the trouble zones in our industry is the late payment culture. So how do you cope with the scourge of late payments. Can it be eliminated?
Well, late payments are definitely the culture in our industry often leading to catch-22 situations with respect to operations. However, we have adopted financial solutions like sales and purchase invoice discounting. These help us in addressing working capital challenges and keep them at a minimal for all stakeholders.
Does Bizongo spell trouble for printers and converters?
On the contrary. We empower sellers in multiple ways while scaling up their business. Working with Bizongo, ensures regularised business and increased capacity utilisation for our selling partners. It saves them their marketing costs as well. Also, as you mentioned in your previous question, this industry is plagued with late payments. With the aid of various financial solutions, our selling partners receive timely payments enabling them to seamlessly continue with their manufacturing process. In essence, our association with our selling partners is symbiotic at its core.
What is the Bizongo official view on the plastic ban?
At a broad level, sustainability has been one of the key goals at Bizongo since the onset. Hence, developing sustainable packaging came very organically to us. Bizongo is completely committed to reducing the ecological footprint and developing a sustainable packaging ecosystem. It's a constant effort at our end to keep reducing the use of plastic that cannot be recycled.
Can you tell us about any innovative efforts that endorse the above ideology?
Our biodegradable meal tray which recently won the Dieline award is a reflection of this ideology. Besides developing biodegradable and recyclable laminates and tamper-proof bags through the use of international technology forms a large part of the product innovation efforts at Bizongo.
The anniversary celebrations at Novotel were like an IIT styled geeky party based on a non-hierarchical management system. An open day for the team members and their family. Underneath the fun and game is a clear plan going forward…
You’re right, the script is ready. The latest round of funding will facilitate the execution of this script and true to our values we’re ready to upscale multiple aspects of the business. In terms of industries - pharmaceuticals and automotive would be the new segments we have started actively exploring this year. Geographically, we’re looking at going deeper into Southern and Eastern India - both in terms of clients as well as selling partners. Packaging machinery, material handling equipment, and rigid FMCG packaging are some of the new categories in the pipeline.