How RPG Ventures

How RPG Ventures' Futuristic Investment Goals Aligned With Seniority.in's Business Model

Healthcare & Pharma

Backed by RPG Ventures, Seniority.in has built an ecommerce platform for the 120 million Indians in the 60+ age category. From medical to lifestyle needs, the company has 3,000 products on its platform, along with a retail store in Pune, which acts as an experience zone. Within two years of founding, the company has earned 50,000 customers and records 650 transactions a day

Ayush Agrawal & Tapan Mishra, Founders, Seniority.In

While people think of India as a young country, it is also rapidly aging. There are 120 million people in the 60+ age group and many fail to understand their needs and lifestyle. This market is huge and underserved in India when compared to other countries like the U.S.and Japan. In fact, this age group is also becoming increasingly Internet savvy and comfortable with buying products online. “In India, most of the focus is towards the youth when it comes to planning for upcoming products and new businesses. But, we realised that no one is serving the 60+ segment and thus, we decided to build something in this space,” states Ayush Agrawal of Seniority.in. Agarwal and Tapan Mishra, from the umbrella of RPG Ventures, set up Seniority.in in 2016 as a retail destination for senior citizens.

The startup focuses on making everyday life easy for senior citizens. With a curated product portfolio of over 3,000 products ranging from medical to lifestyle, the company’s vision is to provide a seamless experience through its online website (www.seniority.in) and retail stores. To create a touch and feel of products, Seniority has also opened an experience zone in Pune where customers can try before they buy. With a team size of about 65, today, the company operates out of Mumbai and Pune.

Building A Curated Product Portfolio

Seniority has witnessed good strides in demand since inception. “Currently, we are seeing more growth than we anticipated and we wish to keep the ball rolling at the same pace,” says Agarwal. It has over 50,000 customers across India and processes 600 to 650 orders  a day. Usually, it gets a good portion of its sales from its existing customers.

The company services almost 19,000 pin codes across India and has tied up with India Post. What’s interesting is that it has witnessed an equal mix in demand within the different places it caters to and gets orders from metros, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. In fact, Agarwal says, “Top 10 cities comprise 35 to 40 per cent of our sales. On any given day, we despatch products to 3,000 pin codes.”

Seniority aims to become the one-stop shop for all senior citizen needs. “Hence, we have carefully curated a portfolio of innovative products from within and outside the country,” says Mishra. It strongly believes that its  product offerings will differentiate it from the rest of the players in the world. It started building out the orthopaedic, surgical and rehab categories keeping in mind the specific needs of its target demography. The company’s focus, however, has increasingly shifted to expanding its leisure & lifestyle, hobby and daily living aids categories as well. Some of its most popular categories include products like Saregama Carvaan & Music cards (Music player and pen-drives with preloaded songs from the olden era), anchor stitch kits, senior-friendly phones, clever cutter -kitchen accessories and squatty-stool bathroom accessories.  “With a good understanding of the buying behaviour and preferences of our target group, we now feel confident to introduce our own brand of products,” says Mishra. The company has identified the products it wants to private label and is in the process of building out the vendor base and supply-chain.The team is hopeful that by the end of the year, private label will contribute to at least fifteen to twenty percent of its topline.


To build visibility, we carry out targeted activities. For instance, to encourage community building, the Seniority experience store at Pune also acts as a hub where groups can get together for social activities


Fine Tuning Processes

Hiring the right employee is something the company pays close attention to. “We are true believers in our employees being our greatest strength. The pace at which we are growing right now, hiring just doesn’t seem to keep pace!” exclaims Ayush. This apart, keeping up with the speed at which the company is scaling is also a challenge. “You find yourself playing catch-up almost all the time, but then I guess it’s a good problem to have,” says Mishra cheerily.

This apart, the team believes that with the business growing at a good pace, it’s important to strike a balance between stabilizing existing processes and introducing new ones. And, both are equally important and challenging. “One of the other important things to focus on is facilitating effective communication amongst different departments which can be trickier than it seems, especially for an early stage company like ours, with offices in more than one location,” he explains.  

Playing On Target Group’s Savviness

Responding to the question of the Internet savviness of this ageing population, Mishra says, “We had the same question running through our minds before we rolled out the current version of our website. Once we went live though, all our apprehensions were put to rest.” The company always knew that its target group would be both seniors and their care-givers. But, the team was surprised to see  that senior citizens are just as Internet-savvy as any other age group. “A lot of it can be attributed to the ease of using the Internet on handheld devices and the fact that Seniority.in is a senior friendly website,” adds Agarwal. Additionally, for those who are not Internet savvy, the company gives the option of placing orders by calling the customer service numbers, the lines for which are open seven days a week.

The Road To Market Leadership   

While the company is an online first brand, it experiments with offline channels as well, such as its store model in Pune. The purpose of adopting an omni-channel approach is to make its products accessible to its targeted customer through the channels they will be comfortable with. To build visibility, we carry out targeted activities. For instance, to encourage community building, the Seniority store also acts as a hub where groups get together for social activities,” adds Agarwal.

The primary USP for the company is its focus on careful category curation, rather than being horizontal players with all products. The company has also focussed on creating an online buying experience, keeping its target group in mind.Talking about competition, the co-founders say that Amazon and Flipkart will always struggle in becoming “discovery platforms”. “That being said, if these giants were to enter the field, we believe it will be good for us, since they will increase the market for senior-focussed commerce much faster than we would have been able to,” says Agarwal.

By the end of the year, Seniority wants to grow its order volume by five to six times, compared to its current numbers. “The long term vision is to become the leading consumer brand for elderly products in India. And, the key engines for that will be launching our own brand of products with innovative product design, and widening our customer reach by experimenting with new go-to-market strategies,” says Agarwal on a concluding note.


Interaction with Harsh Goenka

Honestly, the first time we met Mr.Goenka, we were really taken aback by his humility and ability to make us feel comfortable around him. We have found him to be a really engaged person in every conversation we’ve had with him. He is able to pick out the nuances of the business easily, which widens our scope of thinking. I also remember a conversation he had with our product/tech head, in which he asked really pointed and specific questions about our technology strategy.

This ability of being able to take both a 20,000 feet level strategic view of things, while at the same time donning the hat of a subject matter expert when required is something we really look up to.


From the stables of RPG Ventures

RPG Ventures, , the new ventures arm of the US $3 billion RPG Group looks to build and invest in businesses that are addressing a large market with a differentiated business model, and led by strong founding teams. Since the mandate is to build ownership in innovation-driven futuristic businesses, areas of interest include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, high-end diagnostic services and the EV/Battery charging space.

RPG Ventures’ new pronged approach is to build ideas within the group or invest in other early-stage startups.  Seniority.in is its first investment, where has pooled in US $2 million.

Typically, RPG Group and RPG Ventures brainstorm ideas which are futuristic and have a large market opportunity. “We saw a big opportunity to build a brand in the elderly care space and within that, elderly care products. And, we looked to partner with entrepreneurs with whom we could build this business with,” recalls Kunjan Chikhlikar, head of RPG Ventures. In fact, the company had parallel processes where it looked for talent within the group and outside. Tapan and Ayush are products of both the streams. Ayush came from Ceat Speciality Business and Tapan joined from outside.

“When we suggested elderly care products, Ayush’s thinking was in line with ours. When Tapan and he went through an exhaustive process of meeting key management board members, we were convinced that while the idea may have come from RPG Ventures, the way the business was being built was aligned with our thinking,” states Kunjan.

Fast forward today; RPG Ventures continues to ideate around businesses and ideas. The company has taken another initiative and launched a new business – smart intra space – a few months back. This business will take up projects related to smart cities and smart grids. “We see a large market opportunity and parallel to that we see synergy with existing group companies to build such a business,” says Kunjan.


Snapshot

Seniority.in

Founders: Ayush Agrawal and Tapan Mishra

Year of Incorporation: 2016

Investors: RPG Ventures

City: Mumbai and Pune

Poornima Kavlekar has been associated with The Smart CEO since the time of launch and is the Consulting Editor of the magazine. She has been writing for almost 20 years on a cross section of topics including stocks and personal finance and now, on entrepreneurship and growth enterprises. She is a trained Yoga Teacher, an avid endurance Cyclist and a Veena player.

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