Founded in July 2017 by Shashwat Swaroop Marmeto was joined by college-friends-turned-partners Prabhat Prasad and Saurav soon after. This Bangalore-based startup is a tech enabler serving over 500 top brands, including Cred, Paypal, ITC, Epigamia, mCaffeine, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, MPL Sports, and many more. Operating 100 percent remotely with double the capacity since the onset of the pandemic, they’ve served numerous brands.
Having powered the tech needs of some of the biggest domestic and international brands, Marmeto has come a long way in just a short span. Bootstrapped with about INR 10,000 in 2017, the tech startup has grown into a team of over 50, all working remotely and clocking revenue of up to USD 1 million a year.
Marmeto’s services span from building successful e-commerce brands through growth-driven tech implementation to the simplest of consultations for a Shopify website. From defining audiences for creating a user-centric website that appeals to the target audience to end-to-end website development followed by Shopify POS development and app development, Marmeto covers the entire Tech Enablement Scope of Services.
We spoke to Saurav K, one of the co-founders about Marmeto’s growth in the past four years, which has been entirely organic and largely referral-based.
How you got the idea of starting up in this segment?
Only the relentlessly crazy survive. We didn’t know it at one point, along with our vision to transform commerce, and this one common trait laid the foundation for Marmeto.
Marmeto came into existence four years ago in 2017, but we embarked on our entrepreneurial journey way before that. The business bug bit us back in 2014 while pursuing our undergrads. We started an e-commerce venture that we successfully scaled to approximately 150 orders per day. But, as luck would have it, the business faced some teething issues with scalability and other unfavorable factors that led us to take the hard decision of shutting it down.
The second chapter started a few years back after Shashwat had dabbled in a few e-commerce consultation roles that re-ignited the entrepreneurial spirit. Around this time, I had joined Mobisy right out of college and was starting on the corporate ladder, whereas Prabhat had just graduated. Once again, we united from different walks of life, which became the starting point of our most adventurous journey!
With Rs 14,000, the 3 of us and a designer rented two seats in a co-working space in Bangalore. At this point, no one was drawing salaries, we did not have a lead pipeline, we had zero service industry experience, and certainly, we had no clarity on the road that lay ahead. We were sure of one thing, though, and we wanted to make some noise and create a difference in the world of e-commerce.
We alternated the two seats between 4 people and took every tiny, small and big project that came our way. The co-working remains our favorite office space to date; can you guess why?
We got free biscuits with unlimited chai, and this was the beginning of Marmeto.
What are Marmeto’s objectives and offerings?
In Marmeto’s early days, we offered a gamut of services. From Website design (at the most nascent stage) to website development to social media content creation services. Six months into the business, however, we got some clarity on the road ahead.
The e-commerce market has been on the rise since 2015, but the inertia regarding online payments and apps meant slow growth and slower market penetration.
We saw a major supply-demand gap. On the one hand, major e-commerce players offering website builder services (Like Shopify, Wix, Woo Commerce) penetrated the Indian market. On the other hand, the Indian market was dealing with its own set of problems like functionality, logistics, price points and response times.
Eventually, we decided on website development on Shopify as our primary focus.
However, this was a journey in itself. It started from problem-solving for e-commerce brands. As we built and developed unique solutions on Shopify, we transitioned to an end-to-end Shopify development agency.
Why website development?
It is literally the starting point for e-commerce businesses. We realized that clients do not entirely understand the website’s target demographics, and the ones who do, don’t grasp the intricacies of the tech behind the website functionalities. Moreover, every project lacked a clear understanding of the e-commerce user experience, and the aesthetic focus heavily outweighed the website’s functional performance.
Let me explain this with an example. If you enter a race, you need great skill and strategy to win. But all that jazz is of no use without the best and fastest car. Shopify is the Mercedes of this race, and we aim to be Hamilton. The most innovative with an extensive partner community to offer support.
Our edge – When we decided to focus on Shopify development, we built numerous innovative solutions in Shopify’s native language, “LIQUID,” in less than a year. We gained expertise in a coding language that many were oblivious to. This put us on the map with the e-commerce industry in India and helped us land our first biggies like Soulflower, Qtrove and Headphonezone.
Your services are all being handled remotely. What are the challenges and opportunities?
Going 100 percent remote was less an opportunity, more a necessity in light of the pandemic. The safety of our team is our priority, and we took this decision overnight to support them and their families.
This came with a unique set of challenges. For a company as young as ours, there was a need for implementing a complete remote structure for all processes from hiring to training to project management. For a team that thrives in the office work culture that we’ve built and conditioned for four years, our biggest challenge was keeping up the same drive while introducing new people into the team and scaling up operations. As we see it, an organization’s momentum largely depends on the intrinsic motivation of its team members.
Not far away was our second challenge; our industry itself poses that. The e-commerce tech industry operates on expedited timelines in at least 80 percent of cases. Since websites are the most vital component for an e-commerce business, any technical glitch or bug leads to substantial potential revenue losses overnight. Thus, serving clients for longer hours with a quick turnaround time is an ongoing challenge.
Like there is a flip side to everything, remote work also comes with a host of opportunities. The reduced relocation costs meant eliminating geographical boundaries for hiring. We suddenly had access to a much more excellent and diverse pool of applicants. The zero-commute stress led to a more productive team with a better work-life balance.
What has been your learning curve while working with Indian companies, and how is it different from your international clients?
Speaking about the nature of engagements, the tug of trust vs. tech isn’t just limited to the tech industry but is more a way of life. Indians are very trusting people and value their gut instinct over technical jargon any day. Internationally, India’s positioning is solely backed by solving complex technical problems with extensive knowledge and expertise in the field.
We started four years ago in the Indian market and relied heavily on consistent innovation in solution building. Innovation is a result of constant experiments and failures that led to our eventual success by extension.
However, going head-on with a tech-first approach and narrowing our focus by limiting it to development meant that we achieved a greater learning curve within our very first year as an organization. As a result, Shopify invited us to host the Shopify Meetup in Bangalore, which became Shopify’s largest Meetup in the APAC region ever, with over 300 partners, merchants, and e-commerce leaders attending the event.
What are some of your current focus areas?
In a sentence – Our focus area is building commerce solutions that enable businesses to do much more on Shopify with the power of technology.
We understand the Shopify structure so well that we build all kinds of tech solutions around it.
Be it building websites or custom solutions for e-commerce brands or building Enterprise Shopify Solutions and Apps for logistics partners like Delhivery, Shiprocket, DHL, payment partners like CRED, Paypal, Razorpay and PayU and VAS (Value added service) partners like Qwikcilver and Ticket Xpress.
You have been assisting companies in various segments like Beauty & Skin Care, Clothing & Accessories, Food & Drinks, Health & Personal Care, Home Decor & Kitchen, Mobile & Accessories, Kids brands, and so on. Which sector do you think has more growth potential in India and why?
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that the food and beverages industry will be on a forever growth trajectory. We’ve seen many F&B brands rise in the Indian market in the past two years, bootstrapped and funded alike. Within this segment, many health and nutrition-based products like protein bars, breakfast boxes, juices, shakes etc., have been trending for the past few years.
Owing to the pandemic, the EduTech market comes in a close second. Virtual classes and remote educational courses have been pivotal in the free flow of knowledge in the past two years and have paved the way for a thriving EduTech sector.
What is your expansion or scaling-up plans for the future?
The plan is to scale up operations in and around e-commerce as aggressively as we can. The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce growth in India by 300 percent since 2020. It means phenomenal demand and more opportunities.
Innovation has been a big part of our success, for which we’re looking forward to building a community of tech-hungry ninjas looking to deep dive into commerce on Shopify! While we want to focus on our existing service offerings while scaling operational capacity, we’re also looking at venturing into other complimentary ecommerce services to enhance the client experience further with an aim to expedite our delivery processes! This involves building a stronger Marmeto family, our Marmeto Alpha clients (A loyalty service offering for our retainer clients) and our Strategic Partners while catering to newer clients.
Lastly, we’re looking forward to launching a Marmeto Accelerator platform that would allow us to cater and serve some curated bootstrapped startups and smaller organizations while offering them the Marmeto community experience for e-commerce.
How have Indian e-commerce customers evolved over the ages? (Their demands, choice and preference based on your use case)
Indian customers have evolved seemingly overnight in the past two years. The foundation for this was laid by marketplace giants like Amazon and Flipkart early on. Still, the pandemic was the turning point that led to the elimination of deep-rooted inertia about e-commerce and online payments in the Indian customers’ minds.
The government’s conscious efforts towards the penetration of UPI and online payment apps led to a more accepting and trusting mindset of the Indian customer. It opened up the market for many SMEs to mark their online presence while the more conventional retail giants took an aggressive pivotal shift towards the online shopping industry.
What impact did the pandemic have on business in your segment (e-commerce)?
Our segment includes a diverse portfolio of businesses.
In an attempt to make the digital shift, the demand for a quick e-commerce website turnaround increased exponentially in the past 1.5 years. Since we mainly cater to the brands in their very first leg of the journey, we’ve seen 2x growth in the past few months and have successfully scaled operations to do justice to this growing demand.
Likewise, related e-commerce products and services like apps and value-added service partners have seen a surge in demands.