How this web development startup became a million-dollar revenue startup during the pandemic

How this web development startup became a million-dollar revenue startup during the pandemic

India has no shortage of web development companies, the sector is one of the most popular in the country. According to the LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report 2020 in India, jobs such as JavaScript developer, backend developer, full-stack engineer, Python developer and front-end engineer are listed in the top 15 emerging jobs.

However, explains 26-year-old Shashwat Swaroop Your story that the rapid evolution of technology and market volatility has made it difficult for companies to stay afloat. This is where the Bangalore-based startup Marmetocome in

The technology development startup focused on end-to-end commerce works with 500 companies, including First Mobile League, MCaffeineRajasthan Royals, epigamy, Superbottoms, XYXXMelio, MTR Foods, Quirksmith, Sri Sri Tattva and grew 100 percent in the last year.

The beggining

While studying engineering at New Horizon College of Engineering, Bengaluru, Shashwat, along with college friends-turned-founders Prabhat Prasad and Saurav K, decided to venture into entrepreneurship. They started an e-commerce company that allowed people to rent books online and scaled it to about 150-200 orders per day.

“But luckily, the company faced scalability issues and other unfavorable factors that led us to take the difficult decision to shut it down within a year,” says Shashwat. Co-founder and CEO, Marmeto.

After college, while Shashwat dabbled in some e-commerce consulting roles, Saurav joined retail intelligence firm Mobisy and began building his corporate career. In 2017, they reconnected and decided to start something of their own again.

They used a total of Rs 14,000, roped in a designer and rented two seats in a co-working space in Bengaluru. “At this point, no one was getting paid, we didn’t have a main pipeline, we had zero experience in the service industry, and there was no clarity about the way forward. However, we were sure of one thing: we wanted to do some noise and make a difference in the world of e-commerce,” says Shashwat.

So they started Marmeto as a web development company, which now helps e-commerce brands build technology, mostly on Shopify.

“We believe in simplifying trade. We build websites, apps and business solutions on Shopify,” says 26-year-old co-founder Saurav. He also adds that the company is no longer associated as a web development company, but as a commerce enabler.

first days

In the startup’s early days, it offered a wide range of services — from website design to website development, social media content creation services and “anything else that came our way,” says Shashwat. Within six months, the trio saw a significant gap between supply and demand.

On one hand, major e-commerce players offering website building services like Shopify, Wix, Woo Commerce, were penetrating the Indian market, on the other hand, the Indian market was dealing with its own set of problems such as functionality, logistics, prices and response time. The e-commerce market has been on the rise since 2015, but inertia around online payments and apps meant slow growth and slower market penetration, according to Marmeto’s founders.

Ultimately, the trio decided to focus primarily on website development on Shopify. “We focused on building solutions unique to Shopify and becoming an end-to-end Shopify development agency,” explains 25-year-old Prabhat.

“We realized that clients don’t fully understand the website’s target demographic, and those who do, don’t understand the intricacies of the technology behind the website’s functionality. Also, not every project had a clear understanding of the e-commerce user experience and aesthetic approach far outweighed the functional performance of the website,” he adds.

Prabhat says that when the team decided to focus on Shopify two years ago, it built numerous solutions in the native language of the “LIQUID” platform in less than a year. “We gained expertise in a coding language that many were ignorant of. This put us on the map of the e-commerce industry in India and helped us land our first big ones like Soulflower, Qtrove and Headphonezone,” adds Prabhat.

Market and competition

The Indian e-commerce or e-queue market grew by 25 percent in 2020-21 to reach $38 billion, even as the retail market shrank by 5 percent due to impact of the coronavirus, according to a report by Bain & Company and Flipkart. As the COVID-19 pandemic still continues, with some sense of stability returning, the report also noted that the e-retail market is expected to grow to $120-140 billion in FY26 at approximately 25-30 percent annually.

For Marmeto, this is an opportunity to tap into unmatched demand. “Ours is a very big market for e-commerce and it’s enough to sustain itself,” says Saurav.

The startup competes with any web development company that helps build e-commerce businesses, but Shashwat says Marmeto stands out for going the extra mile on competitive pricing on each of its projects.

“We have built a unique positioning in the market by not offering the conventional, but by offering something better,” says Saurav. According to him, most web development agencies offer an AMC (at a minimal cost) as an annual fee for website maintenance, which Marmeto does not charge its clients because the startup claims that they do not build websites that they crash

“We understand the structure of Shopify so well that we build all kinds of technology solutions around it. We work with logistics partners like Delhivery, Shiprocket and DHL; payment partners like CRED, Paypal, Razorpay and PayU; and VAS (service of added value) like Qwikcilver and Ticket Xpress to build business Shopify solutions and applications,” explains Saurav. He says Marmeto covers the full range of technology enablement services for e-commerce.

But the founders say what really makes Marmeto stand out is its speed or response time. “From catering to feedback on project deliverables, we offer turnaround times unmatched in the industry at the moment,” adds Prabhat.

Revenue and business growth

Marmeto has two revenue models: a one-time project fee and the second is a long-term retention model.

“These two cater to two different stages of growth. The former is typically used by SMBs looking to launch a new website or website revamp or by established businesses that need a specific custom solution. The latter is used by enterprise businesses or funded startups that do a lot of marketing, resulting in constant updates and changes to websites,” says Shashwat.

He adds that in the past two years he has built his expertise on Shopify and scaled his operations, and claims that Marmeto has grown its revenue by 2x and passed the $1 million revenue mark in the fiscal year 21. He says the company has worked with a host of brands ranging from healthcare, beauty apparel, technology, to food and beverage. The company also has some global clients such as Mordilliac Florists and Shyn.

The CEO adds that the company’s biggest achievements were scaling the team and going 100 percent remote overnight while working tirelessly on more than 50 successful websites during the three months of 2020 lockdown and catering to customers with priority. The founder boasts that the company’s growth over the past four years has been completely organic and largely referral-based.

Funding and plans

The company started with seed money of Rs 14,000, and after that, its growth fueled the operations. Shashwat says Marmeto plans to expand operations in and around e-commerce aggressively in the next 12-18 months. He adds that the company is now targeting 150-200 percent growth for this fiscal.

While the company wants to focus on its existing service, it is also looking to venture into other e-commerce services, such as a loyalty program for its customers, which will further shorten turnaround time.

“Finally, we are also looking forward to launching a Marmeto Accelerator platform that will allow us to cater and serve a few select seed startups and smaller organizations while providing them with the experience of the Marmeto eCommerce community,” says Shashwat.

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