CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. Madhav Kasturia, ZFW Dark Stores
1.What inspired you to become a D2C enabler founder?
— I started a chain of F&B cloud kitchen brands in 2015 as a college fresher in Delhi- which scaled to multiple cities across India.
One of the days during the COVID wave & lockdown in 2020, I was immobile and realized that E-commerce was my only option for getting everything. Despite being in South Delhi, most of my online purchases were not reaching before 5-7 days, leaving me waiting desperately for what I urgently needed.
2.How do you mentor brands in India’s startup ecosystem?
Our platform powers Same-Day Deliveries for E-Commerce brands across India on their own websites. So that their customers get a delightful delivery experience that they deserve & keep coming back to the brand for more.
Our core team consists of operators who’ve led functions at major E-commerce/supply-chain tech companies across India & US before. So, we’ve been lucky to witness the evolution of India’s consumer story from the very front row & deeply understand what works & what doesn’t.
3.Share your journey of taking off ZFW Dark Stores.
After having built brands & experienced pain points for 5+ years in the F&B space – we wanted to sit on the enabler seat & help brands expand using our fulfillment infrastructure + playbook: started off with enabling F&B categories (Icecreams, beverages, frozen snacks) & later evolved into offering Same-Day-Delivery for D2C brands across categories (Beauty Personal Care, Wellness, Ayurveda, Electronics, Apparel, Accessories, among others).
Today we’re venture-backed & work with most of India’s best known brands like Epigamia, Power Gummies, Clinikally, Jimmy’s, The Face Shop, Gadre Marine, Wellversed, etc
4.India is full of budding entrepreneurs. What would you advise young entrepreneurs such as yourself who want to make something out of themselves?
Now’s the best time to build something valuable in India & the ecosystem is very supportive. Never be afraid to reach out to people for help- but do so in a thoughtful way. You should plan early on about what direction you’re looking to take your business towards: a bootstrapped business or a venture-backed business.
Gone are the days of investors throwing money & FOMO’ing into very early companies just because of the team’s pedigree or backgrounds. You truly need to build something that solves a massive problem, demonstrate early traction along with a clear path to a sustainable business model.But as I always say: “Trust time, trust the process, keep moving & show up everyday”.
5.Can you please shed some light on your cohort-based D2C business, its importance, and what is in it for them?
We have a category focus every quarter – some quarters are focussed on F&B categories & others on Beauty/Personal Care, Apparel, Accessories, etc. Our team signs up brands of a particular category every month which helps us to keep evolving our fulfillment-tech infrastructure + developing the playbook.
Our Fulfillment platform democratizes Amazon-grade logistics for India’s 100,000 D2C brands that want to sell more through their own websites, have greater control over customers, & offer a similar Same-Day Delivery experience to them (so that they don’t have to worry about bandwidth or risks associated with over-dependence on Amazon).What’s in it for them? If brands incorporate Same-Day Deliveries into their customer experience, they’re able to see improvements in website conversions, RTOs, & repeat purchases by up-to 85%.
Every forward-thinking D2C brand today wants Same-Day Deliveries for their customers, but lacks the resources, technology, and operational infrastructure to do that. That’s where we step in to help.
6.Tell us about your interests outside of your daily work schedule. What books and sports do you like?
Outside of work, I’ve started reading & walking more. I recently finished reading ‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator turned leadership coach. One of the best books on sales and the art of negotiation. I like watching Premier League football if I get the time 🙂
7.What has been your biggest challenge? And who has been your inspiration in your journey as a young entrepreneur? And what is the one golden rule that you live by?
Not sure if this has been the biggest challenge we’ve experienced till date- but definitely an interesting story:
One of our early brands went on Sharktank India S1 and got funded. The next day after their episode aired, their order volumes in NCR spiked from an avg of 50 orders/day to 450 orders/day, which broke our Operations process. We take our Same-Day Delivery SLAs very seriously & knew that we couldn’t disappoint the brand or its customers. Since we were a very lean team then: each of us had to scramble on-ground to support our dark store teammates. We were personally picking, packing, scanning, & then delivering items to customers. In the end, we managed to successfully deliver all orders within the expected timeline- but it was one of the most humbling, yet insightful experiences ever. Taught us a lot about grit and teamwork.
Ofcourse, it was a different time back then & we’ve now scaled Same-Day Delivery operations across India for the biggest D2C brands out there. Also a lot of brands from both seasons of Shark Tank India 🙂
I’ve been really inspired by the journeys of Sridhar Vembu (Zoho), Peeyush Bansal (Lenskar), Brian Chesky (Airbnb). The golden rule I live by: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
8.What would you advise all young entrepreneurs
Take the leap- don’t be afraid to fail. You will never learn till you make mistakes. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As I said above: “Trust time, trust the process, keep moving & show up everyday…”
ZFW Dark Stores improves customer loyalty & RTOs for India’s top brands like The Face Shop, Epigamia, Clinically by enabling Amazon-like Same-Day Deliveries on their own websites.
To learn more, visit: www.zfwdarkstores.com