Chennai-based rural e-commerce startup Boonbox has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a group of investors including Keiretsu Forum and existing investors Indian Angel Network.
Boonbox, an e-commerce venture of Inthree, had secured an initial funding from Indian Angel Network. Inthree is a company that deals with rural distribution.
The startup works in the area of assisted e-commerce in the rural areas and now has presence in 8 states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Punjab and Bihar.
Founded in 2015 by Ramanathan R and Karthik Natarajan, an exclusive rural e-commerce platform Boonbox created by well-established Inthree Access to source and sell almost everything from consumer durables to FMCG to the rural customer. It solves the major challenges include customer acquisition at reasonable cost, lack of internet penetration, poor penetration of credit cards and last mile connectivity.
For the end merchant, it aggregates demand for various products and then places order with the merchant. The product procured by Inthree goes through the company’s warehouse where it is checked for quality and packaged for despatch to customers’ homes.
“We start with places that have a population of below 50,000 and we now service 3,000 unique pincodes. We will go deeper in these geographies in the upcoming months,” said Ramanathan.
He further added, “The last month has been very encouraging. It takes a different formula to work with the rural areas because one has to tackle cultural issues as well. They want their independence while placing an order while at the same time, they want someone to advise them. We train our affiliates on the product catelogue so they can guide the buyer.”
From catering to just B2B segment, Inthree scaled-up to B2C through Boonbox. The startup became cash flow positive and aims to end this fiscal with Rs 150 crore in revenues.
Internet certainly has penetrated into rural, remote and very remote parts of India, but the e-commerce industry has not generated significant revenues from selling in rural India. The rural populace in India still travel a distance to nearby cities to purchase basic, luxury and FMCG products.
It has proved that consumer demand for FMCG products is not just limited to urban India but there is a steady increase in demand, especially electronic gadgets, appliances, and cosmetics, from the evolving rural population.