Disrupting the fragmented packaging industry

STARTUP SHOWCASE

Aniket Deb

Engineers Aniket Deb, Sachin Agarwal and Ankit Tomar were fascinated by the B2B space in India and wanted to make ‘something new’ work in this space. They zeroed in on the packaging industry and created Bizongo, a transactional B2B platform connecting suppliers and buyers in plastics, chemicals and packaging, in 2015. While Aniket assumed the mantle of CEO, Tomar and Agarwal took over as CTO and COO respectively.

In the last four years, the company has seen tremendous growth, and counts Myntra, Box8, PepperFry and HUL among its customers and has raised capital from many marquee investors including Accel Partners, IDG ventures and B capital. “We wanted to offer tech solutions in the fragmented and unbranded packaging industry. The packaging is very interesting because it is constantly growing; while India’s GDP is growing at 5.8% the packaging industry is growing at 18%,” says Deb.  

He adds, “We are at an average run-rate of around Rs 400 crore annually. When we began, the market size was $40 billion, it has gone up to $70 billion now, as people are consuming more branded goods. Both brands and consumers are willing to pay that extra for good quality, better aesthetics.”

Building trust

The trio was aware that before building demand, they would need to build supply, but to go to manufacturers and win their trust was a “challenging task”.

“Going to a packaging manufacturer and saying that we are not from the packaging industry, but we want to use tech to disrupt the entire space, used to invite a lot of mistrust. People used to think, we couldn’t do it in 20 years, how will these guys do it,” says Deb.

Raising capital

Bizongo raised its Series A round of capital from Accel Partners, which was the first investor, with IDG Ventures coming on board in 2016. In 2018, it raised the Series B funding round with investments from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s venture capital firm, B Capital and World Bank’s investment arm, International Finance Corporation. “We were in touch with institutional investors. We have seen the landscape evolving. We have a better margin profile and do not have to offer deep discounts. Consumers come for value. Capital raising came through because we were able to build a niche for ourselves,” says Deb.

Sustainability shift

Deb believes that sustainability is a big “call-out” now, especially owing to the ban on plastic. “The government has not completely banned plastic. It has only listed the criteria on the type of plastic that could be used, its thickness and so on. It is a good move. It would promote sustainability and will also not result in unemployment that a complete ban would have brought about,” says Deb.

“Bizongo is making an attempt to generate more awareness. We are also starting with our own range of food packaging products. We will sell it under Bizongo’s brand name, so the client could verify that this product is sustainability certified, or is in tandem with the initiatives of the government,” he adds.