How a small town villager tackled the odds to create a smash-hit product

1/ The Dukaan Story.

I come from a small village in Bihar, lost my father at the age of 3 and then raised by my Mom. She worked as a tailor.

2/ Mom wanted me to do at least graduation, but we couldn’t afford it so at the age of 17, I left studies and came to Mumbai looking for a job.

In Mumbai I learned computer hardware & networking for 6 months and got a job at a MNC.

3/ Technology fascinated me and I learned everything I could get my hands on, performed really well in the company and for the next 6 years I went from being a trainee to leading a team of 60 engineers, managing over 20 Lakh servers across 15,000 different customer locations.
4/ Around 5th year in my job I realized I had more interest in building things on the internet than fixing active directory problems.

I started learning more and more about it, and built a blog which got decent visitors and started to make some money.

5/ But to really make something worthwhile I had to dedicate more time.

I used to live in Virar and traveling to Andheri (Mumbai) every day for a job took 9 hrs + 4 hrs of my time and after that hectic peak hour mumbai local trip the body simply didn’t want to work anymore.

6/ So in around 2013, right after my marriage, I left my job and decided to move full time into Digital marketing. My wife, her parents and my Mom all thought I have gone mad and pretty stupid. And honestly That’s pretty much messed up if you ask any one of that age.
7/ For the next 12 months I built websites, ranked them and made profits selling ads & leads. Soon enough, I was making over $10K a month with this. This was more than a year’s worth of salary, every month!.
8/ This boosted my confidence and I invested most of those funds into experimenting and investing in digital marketing. I used to post my screenshots on Facebook about my experiments, earnings etc.

In 2014, @suumitshah (I didn’t know him that time) started messaging me.

9/ After a few chats, I realised he was different. He was confident, full of energy and already doing fascinating stuff. I somehow liked him and connected well. Soon enough we met.

We discussed what we both had been doing.

10/ He had lots of contacts at emerging companies and I had the skills & resources to execute. It was a promising match and we ended up forming a company together.

We built a digital agency, the first client he brought gave us over two crores in revenue.

11/ We quickly built a team of about 40 ninjas and went on to become a very successful company.

In the next few years we worked with dozens of high growth startups, listed companies, even 3 fortune 500 companies and helped them really scale their growth.

12/ Companies we helped still get over 100M organic traffic a month.

This not only helped us realise the scale of internet economy, but also helped us learn exactly what works and what doesn’t.

At this point we were already building technology to scale our work.

13/ For example, we automated building over 2000 websites, as well as crawling over 2M pages a day for reporting needs.

Later with the help of @Kaustub and @Anurag meena we produtized our service as Rankz and crossed 1M ARR within a year.

14/ Fast forward to 2020, We all have seen how hard Covid has hit India, specially small shopkeepers who earn their living everyday, with shops closed their livelihood were affected a lot and even putting food on table was difficult for them.
15/ While india was quickly moving Digital and preferring all things online, these small shopkeepers were not really skilled enough to operate existing digital platforms like shopify / amazon etc.
16/ Belonging from a shopkeeper’s family @suumitshah saw the pain and wanted to do something about it. We discussed a solution and got on to build a platform for them – “The Dukaan App”.
17/ Dukaan is a simple mobile application, that enables shopkeepers or anyone else for that matter to quickly set up and run an online store.
18/ A typical Dukaandar now installs the Dukaan app, starts uploading inventory (as products), gets a unique store link, shares this link with his/her customers on WhatsApp and starts accepting online orders.
19/ The app was a hit and just in 2 months, more than 2.7 Million small business owners are using the app to sell their products online.
20/ From Small time grocery stores, to housewives selling their handmade items, to restaurants in small towns – these businesses are now getting thousands of orders every single day and able to sell online.
21/ Today, Dukaan is backed by 2 of the most promising venture capitalists – Matrix (@matrixindiavc) and LightSpeed @LightspeedIndia – @tarun_davda @rbalaraman @SannigrahiS @shuvi @altecremedy.
23/ Within just 2 months we have helped these dukandar get over 600,000 orders and generate over Rs 100 crore in sales.

Together, we are trying to help the next 70 Million merchants go truly digital and the support from these awesome folks will help us get there. Faster!

» NextBigWhat’s #Threadmill brings you curated wisdom from Twitter threads on product, life and growth.

Sign Up for nextbigwhat newsletter

The smartest newsletter, partly written by AI.

Download, the short news app for busy professionals