This Chennai-based startup helps e-commerce SMEs build mobile apps in 60 minutes
It’s 2022, and brands and businesses are increasingly focusing on e-commerce, especially mobile e-commerce. However, small businesses don’t always have the resources or manpower to build mobile apps to scale their business.
It’s here thatThe Chennai-based startup helps companies build mobile apps using drag-and-drop features available on its platform.
With 2,500 active paying customers in 100 countries, Vajro has helped direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands like Himalayas,and create mobile e-commerce applications.
Founded by Baskar Agneeswaran, Niwin Santhosh and Raghuram Ramamurthy in 2021, the business-to-business (B2B) mobile app development app is available on the Shopify app store. Any eCommerce business using Shopify to run their business can use Vajro to develop their mobile apps using the features offered on the platform.
“Most e-commerce stores are optimized for their websites, while apps receive 80% of the traction. We want to democratize e-commerce and enable businesses to make it more accessible and affordable to build mobile apps,” said co-founder Baskar Agneeswaran. Your story.
In January 2022, Vajro raised $8.5 million in a Series A round from Five Elms Capital, Kansas City-based growth capital firm.
Commenting on the same, Daniel Bjornson of Five Elms Capital, said, “Most e-commerce stores are optimized for desktop web traffic, while 80% of traffic comes from mobile devices. Vajro solves this problem by reducing the friction of traditional mobile commerce, quickly and efficiently. Our partnership will allow the team to continue to invest in the product and drive mobile sales for their customers.”
How it works
A premium subscription-based platform, Vajro offers small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) plans ranging from $99, $199, and $399 per month. It competes with Appery.io, Mobile Roadie, and AppyPie, which help SMBs without any programming skills build apps.
The Vajro platform comes with widgets and drag and drop functionality. SMBs can choose from four pre-made themes and can customize layouts and many widgets, including flash sales, push notifications, product videos, and more.
Additionally, Vajro also provides small business reports on product performance, sales, new installs, and successful marketing campaigns.
The startup claims that apps built on its platform have a 6x higher conversion rate and around 20-30% customer retention rate compared to other m-commerce apps.
In FY21, Vajro’s annual recurring revenue (ARR) was approximately $5 million, with the United States accounting for 70% of its customer base, followed by India.
Travel as a lesson
Vajro started as a price comparison app called Prizapp for the North American market. But his failure caused the team to introspect their shortcomings as fledgling entrepreneurs.
Baskar recalls the team having doubts after Prizeapp failed, and it took a leap of faith with Vajro, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our advisers suggested that we should be cautious and not go ahead with the product as there was no data to guarantee whether such an app would perform well in the market. ‘move forward,’ explains Baskar.
The co-founders predicted that the lockdown would eventually lead to an increase in demand for non-essential products at some point. As their hunch proved correct, many brands have joined the mobile commerce bandwagon.
Initially, Vajro saw two to three installs of its platform each month. With proper sales and marketing, the startup has scaled to acquire 2,500 active paying customers, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses using Shopify.
“We first learned that our strength is B2B and not B2C. Second, we learned a lot about the e-commerce market. Finally, we realized the importance of the fit between the founder and the market, as well as the fit between the product and the market,” recalls CEO Baskar Agneeswaran, a chartered accountant with almost 15 years of experience.
Co-founder and COO Niwin Santhosh, after a year-long stint at Microsoft, joined Vajro during his Prizapp days as a student partner. Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director Raghuram brings with him over a decade of sales and marketing experience, having worked with Tech Mahindra, ICICI Bank and Cavincare. However, he is only involved in overall strategies and not at the operational level.
If the pandemic made working remotely difficult, it wasn’t impossible. Vajro led two rounds of hiring and grew his team from 28 before March 2020 to 130 after the lockdown was lifted.
Vajro had started with five employees, including the three founders. Today, it has 170 people across India.
According to Research and Markets, the global mobile commerce market reached a value of $628 billion in 2020. Between 2021 and 2026, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 34%.
Vajro aims to become the most preferred mobile app builder for the eCommerce market. It is also looking to integrate with Woo Commerce, SAP, and other Shopify-like spaces to reach more SMBs.
(This story has been updated to add the startup snapshot.)