Metro Tarkari: A founder's dream changing how people buy fruits and vegetables in Kathmandu

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Metro Tarkari: A founder's dream changing how people buy fruits and vegetables in Kathmandu

No matter how affordable cell phones have become or how many people have access to the internet, the Nepali market that e-commerce or IT companies work in is still a niche. This is because the majority of people are still not ready to make that shift into digitized processes. For instance, Transactions worth nine crores happen every day in Kathmandu’s market for fruits and vegetables, however, Metrotarkari, Nepal’s first online grocer has a mere share of a percentage of it.

If you have followed through the progression of a startup you will know that Metrotarkari- like every other startup- had its days when sustaining itself was a challenge. As of now, they run along the silver linings and have finally left their dark clouds well behind. Hover over this story to check how, an individual problem, when realized, is slowly changing how people shop fruits and vegetables in Kathmandu.

 

Starting Metrovibes, an IT Company to cater to local IT needs

Realizing the need of IT services of local companies in Nepal, Anil Basnet cofounded Metro-Vibes along with Humbal Shahi and Nitin Sharma in May 2012. They expected to cater to the Nepalese companies back then, but they found it really difficult to find clients as a newbie in the town. However, like any other IT companies of the time, they started getting outsourced projects from the USA and Australia as they progressed. And this helped them to sustain their company.   

 

Striking Against the Idea

According to Basnet, he came across the idea, when his mom requested him to bring home some vegetables while he was working on a tight deadline. He finished his work and went to the market to look for vegetables, but could not find fresh vegetables. That’s when Basnet thought having something to deliver fruits and vegetables could help. The co-founders then discussed the idea and thought of an E-commerce platform that could help solve the problem. But the problem had to be big enough for a bigger number of people, for the idea to work.

The execution, hence, did not start with a mere guess. The founders assigned two MBA students they were in contact with to conduct a research to find out if people would prefer having their groceries delivered to their homes while they are at work. 80% of the responses favored the idea and, hence they decided to bring it to life.

 

Exciting Start

Excited by the survey result and in love with their new idea, MetroVibes launched MetroTarkari on the day of Christmas in the same year. Metrotarkari.com went live right after their launch which turned out to become a press conference because of the innovation they brought to the agricultural industry in Nepal.

The founders went gaga over the 12 orders that they received on their first day of their launch. Little did they know then, that they would have to stand against and for something bigger later.

 

Wearing more than one hat

It is quite common for founders in a startup to do everything on their own. And the co-founders here had two startups to take care of, both at their initial stage. Hence, Basnet, Shahi, and Sharma, as the first members of the delivery team, delivered for MetroTarkari in the mornings and evenings and spent their days working for MetroVibes.

For MetroTarkari they were doing all- receiving calls and noting orders, sourcing vegetables and delivering them. Of course, when the orders they received exceeded their resources and expectations, they asked their friends to pitch in.

But, on top of the visible sides- orders and delivery, they had a lot of things to take care of at the backend of Metrotarkari. Getting suppliers was one of them, for which they talked to the vendors and placed business with a few farms near the city. They started with fruits, vegetables, bakery items and worked to build a well-managed channel to get supplies when they needed it.

A merry little band of workaholics did for their startups what fathers would do for their children.

 

Some Ups and Downs

Things did not always go smoothly. The beginning was rough. Imagine the founders delivering fruits and vegetables on their bikes and carrying each order worth Rs 500 at the least, to the customers' doorsteps. This part-time responsibility, however, opened a window of opportunity for the founders to know their customers first hand and deal with major minutiae that buyers were not satisfied with, regarding the deliveries.

You cannot afford to lose a single customer especially when your startup is yet to grow. And Basnet and Co. listened to everything their customers had to say, gradually improving as days went by.  

 

Metrotarkari: a different entity

Metrotarkari participated in Idea Studio 2014, a mentorship program where Basnet realized the need for business expertise and learned it as a supplement to his expertise in IT. Before this, Metrotarkari shared departmental resources with Metrovibes and was not a different entity in itself.

The mentorship and participation led the founders to think of Metrotarkari as a separate entity. July of 2016, saw the idea on work become an official company registered as Metrotarkari Pvt. Ltd with a larger vision and expanded scope. The step up was facilitated by Mega Bank’s collateral less investment into MetroTarkari. They even got their own delivery van to deliver bulk orders from their customers.

 

Buying from Metrotarkari

During the launch, they explained how their website works and that is essentially how Metrotarkari works today. When you log on to metrotarkari.com, you can either create an account to make your orders or simply guest order through the phone number displayed. If you are an account holder, add what you need to your cart and it will be delivered to you when you check out. You can pay for your orders on delivery or via payment gateways like e-sewa and PayPal. You also get points on every order made which can be converted to free orders upon accumulation. Furthermore, Metrotarkari allows a person staying abroad to order fruits and vegetables for their families in Kathmandu as well.  

 

Scaling Up Further

Anil Basnet also represented his startup at Reconnect Asia 2015 competing among startups of nine different countries, where they secured the 4th position. His learning further continued with Enterprise 2016.

In the first quartile of 2017, Saudi Arabia NNKS group invested their stakes into Metrotarkari. They have also received a funding from private investors from Saudi Arab, Korea, Japan, Australia, the USA, and Nepal. Interestingly, all of these private investors are citizens of Nepal. Even the government supported them with a grant amounting to NRs 2.9 million under Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT).

Metrotarkari has now been registered in Australia for international payments and orders. They have also tied up with Otel Market in Japan and with companies in Europe and USA.

 

And the future?

Metrotarkari today delivers 7 different categories of food products including meat, dairy, and beverages. The price of fruits and vegetables and their availability status keep on fluctuating, hence, Metrotarkari updates its website on a daily basis. As of now, Metrotarkari has 8000 user accounts and about 30 B2B clients.  

They also sell 100% organic food and promise to deliver the promised quality. Interestingly, about 40% of their customers are citizens living abroad. They are amongst the highest spenders who put food on the table for their families in Nepal through Metrotarkari from miles away.

MetroTarkari will have released an app for Android and iOS by the end of June and they plan on bridging the gap between farmers and consumers while expanding horizons beyond Kathmandu to cater to the needs of other Nepalese. From, what we observed, Metrotarkari looks like a business built on a dream, that’s slowly changing how people buy fruits and vegetables in Kathmandu.

 

 

 

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