The world of business that Saurabh Nanda was first introduced to was associated with books. His father ran a book store – Nanda Book Store — from a rental premises located in New Delhi’s Nehru Place and Saurabh would frequent the store. More than anything, it ensured that he developed a reading habit early on.
When he was in high school, a leading e-commerce platform approached his father, requesting him to start selling books on their platform. Subsequently, the Nandas started selling books on Amazon. Nanda recalls his early days, when owing to low margins they could not afford to hire support staff. So the bright and earnest Nanda would wake up early and pack some of the orders himself. Taking a breather, he would go to school and, after school, would rush to the market to source more books and pack them.
Since school hours were sandwiched between work, his grades began to slip. “I found it very difficult to maintain a balance between work and school,” he said. He currently pursues his studies at Delhi University while running a full time online business selling books.
Nanda said he always wanted to expand the family book business. But he was clear that going about it the traditional way i.e. looking at renting a larger store would not work because the family did not have the capital required for that. “I realised that by selling online we could have a wider reach than from a physical store, as in a physical offline store the reach is limited to a particular area only.”
Though starting an online business is pretty simple, going the long haul requires endurance, like Nanda experienced in the initial days. With reed-thin margins and very low revenues, survival was becoming difficult. But Nanda said what worked for him was his staying power. “I wasn’t willing to quit and realised these were the early days. Slowly and steadily, we started getting good orders and our revenues and margins also increased with time.”
A curious thing happened. As online sales picked up, offline sales started dipping. Instead of paying rent for a business which was difficult to sustain, the Nandas shut down their offline business and decided to focus only on the online market. “From being sold only in Delhi as an offline player, the business spread to rural pockets via an online store. My desire to expand the family business and for it to get recognition across the country became true thanks to the internet,” he told Firstpost.
With time, Nanda grabbed the attention of several e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Shopclues. And then he won the Payoneer entrepreneurship award — his business, Nanda Overseas, competed with entries from 128 countries, including hundreds from India. Entries included apparel makers, handicraft firms, web designers and developers who own a business or are solo entrepreneurs.
Payoneer is enabling entrepreneurs in India grow their business in multiple geographies and via marketplaces all over the world. Across India, Payoneer has partnered with many service providers that can help e-commerce businesses jump to the next level via knowledge and assistance on cataloguing, logistics, inventory management, among other things. The winner of the entrepreneurship award is given $1,000 to reinvest back into the business. The cash prize is just a token gesture, according to Rohit Kulkarni, Country Head, Payoneer.
What worked in Nanda’s favour was his dedication, passion and modesty. “We loved the family element at the heart of it, and it was clear how proud he and his father are of their success. Businesses, especially in India, are about the pride they give to their owners, but also to their family and community,” Kulkarni told Firstpost.
Nanda said his business now has a pan-India presence, alongside a presence in the north American online market. From this financial year, books will be sold in Europe too. His dream for the business is soaring. “I now look forward to importing books to sell them in the Indian market,” he added.