When R Sampath and P Sharad returned to India from the US they wanted to address the needs of the undeserved population in the country. So was born BeWo, standing for “better world” in September 2010;whose products today are being used in multiple government schemes including MNREGA, with over 1,000 devices being deployed in India and Ghana.
The company was incubated by American multi-national chipmaker Qualcomm at its San Diego,California. Sharad,who was working for qualcomm,won an idea contest which caught the attention of the company. In 2011, BeWo got investments from angel investors in the US and in 2014 further funding from the TTK family, which has majority holding in the Indian conglomerate TTK Group “We invested in BeWo because we believe in the team. We felt, early on, that they would make a significant impact with their hardware and software. Coupled with their insightful business model, we feel that they are ideally placed to transform retail in India”, said TT Venkatesh,a member of the TTK family.
In 2014, BeWo launched its first product, a 7-inch rugged Android tablet-based field device which would enable solutions for transparency and e-governance. The device has built in bio-metric sensors, Aadhar-compliant fingerprint scanner, smart-card readers, thermal printer, regional language capability and point-of-sale capabilities. “Our first product was a success but we felt a pull to deliver end to end solutions for small retailers. We wanted to give them a platform that would connect them with the FMCG companies and customers, while simplifying the processes,” said Sampath.
In 2015, BeWo launched an IT-enabled retail service delivery and support system for grocers. The solution provides a gamut of services which includes an Android Point of Sale(PoS) with a printer, bar-code, scanner, 3G slot and UPS, a cloud-based dashboard for account management and provision for digital payments,besides providing an additional monitor to display advertisements. The solution also provides solution to manage hyper local delivery services as well. Through remote diagnostics, BeWo can provide real time after sales service.
As a startup in the social impact space, Sampath believes they have had a blessed journey to date.”The richness of choice we have had right from the beginning brought with it a challenge and the power to say no to some and have laser focus on the selected avenue,”he said Sampath says local grocers have been very forthcoming with BeWo’s product.”The product is catchy and billing is very fast unlike the PoS I used earlier,” said Kennedy, proprietor, Pandian stores who uses the BeWo product in his shop.
“It is the grocer’s enthusiasm that pushes us to deliver and stay ahead of our timelines,”Sampth said. With a target investment of 100 crore,the firm is in talks with VCs to raise funds and scale up operations. While bringing 5,000 stores on board and 8 million stores in 2-3 years, BeWo wants to set up a manufacturing facility in India.