How We Developed A $30K/Month Supply Chain Planning and Automation Software

Published: July 10th, 2020
Ramesh Krishnamurthy
Inquizity Metanoia
from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
started October 2011
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! I am Ramesh Krishnamurthy and I am the Founder of Inquizity.

I have done my Engineering (E&C) from NIT Suratkal and then did my MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.

We started our Inquizity journey about 10 years ago in a fairly unglamorous area of B2B Enterprise Software Solutions; specifically, focused on Supply Chain Planning and Automation Solutions. Our earlier avatar was called Indus Momentus.

We started off by selling and implementing a single module of Production Planning tools but then dedicated our past years to building an entire suite of Supply Chain solutions. A lot of our solutions have been created by working closely with our high-profile high-quality companies with complex operations. Our End to End Supply Chain Planning solutions now includes:

  • Demand Planning
  • Dispatch and Replenishment Planning
  • Supply Network Allocation Planning
  • Production Planning and Scheduling
  • Available to Promise
  • Rough Cut Capacity Planning
  • Network Design
  • Custom Math / Statistical / Heuristic Models

We also developed our Low Code PWA based Automation / Digitalisation platform called dataSAVI. While this was primarily to be used to complement/supplement and augment our Planning solutions, we now use it for a host of different Use Cases which are not just focused on Supply Chain but all spheres of Operations and not just focused Manufacturing but also on the Service industry.

Our Solutions now compete with the best solutions in the industry and are being used by more 120+ clients, across a wide array of industries, the complexity of projects, large as well as medium scale, manufacturing, and services.

Our Solutions have been recognized by the industry and we are proud to have been awarded the CIO Choice Awards 2019 for dataSAVI, our Digitalisation / Automation Platform that enables digital transformation in companies.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Graduating from IIM-Ahmedabad, I started my career in Consulting with KPMG where I worked with several clients solving strategy and operations problems. I had the experience of setting up a greenfield diamond jewellery manufacturing project in HK/China very early on and further as part of the Inclusive Markets practice of Monitor Group, also led the implementation of Low-Cost Housing projects working closely with a developer in Ahmedabad.

My introduction to Supply Chain was serendipitous. When I implemented SAP ERP in the jewellery factory, I came to realize the lacunae in ERP systems in the areas of Planning. I also realized that a lot of companies were doing their Planning in Excel spreadsheets. After coming back from HK/China, I was looking at some partners to work within the supply chain area. That started the journey when I started selling and implementing mainly production planning and scheduling module.

What started as selling and implementation of a single module of Production Planning tools soon morphed into the creation of an end to end Supply Chain Planning solution as described above as we started encountering a whole bevy of problems in various aspects of the Supply Chain. We have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic set of customers who not just put their faith in us and also had the patience and perseverance in allowing us to create solutions specific to their requirements. Supply Chain is complex and our solutions are complex; our customer's leap of faith is something that we are ever grateful for.

While we were solving complex supply chain problems using data-hungry mathematical/statistical and heuristics models, we were continuously confronted by one common, acute problem that was present in pretty much every client situation; the lack of a single system to capture operational data from the Supply Chain.

At about this time, AWS Cloud and Azure were making their mark, bandwidth was improving and people were warming up to Cloud technologies.

We then invested our efforts into creating a platform called dataSAVI that would help Digitalise / Automate the process of capture, aggregation, visualization, and analysis of data.

Having dataSAVI platform now allowed us to not just give Supply Chain Planning Solutions but also add Supply Chain Automation solutions with most customers actually using a combination of the two. Not just that, the platform can be used for Automation of any Operations across Supply Chain and Services. We have actually built the entire solution for a Start-Up in the logistic space on the dataSAVI platform.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

For Planning Solution, we created our first solution working along with Professors from IIT Madras, DOMS. The experience was incredible. We gained a lot of working with them. They gave us a lot of comforts that we will be able to solve any complex problem thrown at us. They also challenged our thinking and helped us think through better and future proof solutions.

Our product was quite rudimentary, to begin with from a software perspective but was extensive from a Planning solution perspective. We didn't have the luxury of time for prototyping etc. as we were rapidly solving a live client problem. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

For dataSAVI, our Automation solution, however, we put in a lot more thought in conceptualizing the product. We were already working in the Supply Chain space with large, well-respected customers with complex operations and we had come to realize the challenges that they faced because of data gaps that hindered their ability to analyze and visualize their business end to end.

Recognizing this, we invested our efforts into creating a platform called dataSAVI which would focus on

  • data Sensing – data gathering from sensors/bar codes, etc.,
  • data Acquisition – data gathering from ERPs / CRMs / Portals,
  • data Visualisation – data analysis for Dashboards / Control Towers and
  • data Interpretation – data analysis for Planning and Analytic

And dataSAVI is an interesting platform ...

We decided it has to be Cloud-enabled and should use IIOT / ML Studio / Cache technologies etc. that focus on performance in a high volume data.

We decided that it has to be a PWA application (Progressive Web Application), that allows us to use the same application in both Web and Mobile.

We decided that it has to have a strong integration with Excel using Excel Add-Ins and other office solutions since bulk of data analysis in companies happen in Excel.

We also decided that we wanted to be fairly unique in our approach towards creating applications that are hosted on the platform. We were keen not to create something that is ad hoc responding to each customer’s needs. We did not want to be yet another application development company with a bevy of developers creating application after application from scratch. Instead, we decided to go the Low Code way. We created the PWA based Low Code Generator platform, that can be configured to quickly create various applications as per the customer's requirement with minimal coding.

So in essence, two completely different processes design/prototyping/manufacturing our initial solutions in Planning and Automation !!!

Describe the process of launching the business.

We started small and have actually worked very hard, brick by brick to build a reasonably solid foundation now, from which we believe we can grow our business significantly.

However, it has been a long and arduous journey. When I started the Supply Chain Planning part of the business, the fact that there were so many companies still using Excel, gave me a lot of confidence that this should be a winning product offering.

I knew that most organizations operate with a variety of IT and Manual systems with some prominent IT systems such as ERPs, CRMs. However most of the organizations do not have an end to end view of the information as many of their operations are either in Excel, Manual Registers, emails, etc.

In addition, while most organizations have reasonably strong transaction systems (aka ERPs / CRMs) but lack in sophisticated tools that would allow for intelligent decision making and analytics; most make do with Excel spreadsheets and accumulated knowledge of their key personnel through years of experience.

But I considerably underestimated the Cost to Value bias. As a B2B market, India offers one of the most challenging landscapes to operate in mainly due to an excessive and obsessive focus skew towards Cost. And in our area of planning solutions, given the prevalence of Excel as well as ready availability of cheap resources, to sell our solution was a big challenge. In addition, even for customers where capital was not an issue, one of the key concerns they had was on the success and sustainability of using our complex solutions.

So our brainy No Brainer solutions had limited takers and needed more innovation.

The innovation that we brought in was in offering our Planning Solutions as a Service. Whilst most B2B Enterprise Software offerings go the License and Implementation way, apart from this offering, we also decided to offer Planning as a Service. In doing this,

We converted what was typically a high Capex Model to an Opex Model and added our Value Added Service into the mix.

We created a Modular approach so that the Client no longer requires to think of this Big Bang Monolith project, instead, we can move at a pace comfortable to their organization and along the way educate, elevate the key players so that they can own the solution.

We reduced the risk perception of our customers. We knew that they were always worried that Planning Solutions are complex and they need diagnostic support to use the solution effectively and sustainably. By adding a Service component, we assured them that we are always there in the background.

We took away the pain of the Client's Planning team in learning a new software product, of mechanically operating a Software tool, the difficult task of making changes to the Model. The Service component again allowed us to work in conjunction with the client team and become its extended arm.

We launched our business with a rudimentary Service Model. Given that, we had to subsequently move back into the normal License/implementation model. But with the addition of dataSAVI platform capabilities, we are now back to focusing on the Service Model with a significant amount of Value Added Offerings. We are seeing significant benefits through better customer relationships, shorter sales cycles, greater customer engagement, and thereby the ability to offer other solutions and frankly happier customers.

dataSAVI also allowed us to address non-Supply Chain Function and non Manufacturing companies. We now address a wide range of Automation needs that can be across any operations of any company.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Attracting new customers remains a challenge and possibly why we are here telling our story to the world that we exist and you should engage with us.

Much of our marketing has been through referrals, word-of-mouth, and few outbound activities like cold-emails. We are active on social media, and post fresh content on IoT, Industry 4.0, Business Digitalization, Supply chain planning solutions, and more, but this is an area that we can do much better.

Most of what has worked for us is word of mouth. The B2B business in India is reference driven and our strong relationships with our customers have allowed us to be considered as a reliable partner.

The other key set of Influencers / Affiliate Marketers are Consulting / Software Solutions companies who find our solutions complementary to their offering. We work with individual Affiliate Marketers / Consultants as well as with companies like KPMG, AT Kearney, IBM, etc.

The innovation, Planning as a Service, that we described above, is quite unique, and very few product companies offer it. Given the various benefits from the Service Model, this model has helped open doors and we have been able to acquire customers faster.

The addition of Automation using our dataSAVI platform has helped create a number of Low Priced Subscription driven operational applications such as

  • Warehouse / Production Track and Trace Solutions
  • Machine Data Acquisition (using IIOT)
  • Field Service Data Collection
  • Custom Customer / Supplier / Sales / Dealer Portals
  • OCR Based Data Acquisition
  • Dashboards
  • Control Towers etc.

Customers now consider us for both Supply Chain Planning and Automation solutions. We are thus able to Upsell and Cross sell our solutions.

We are essentially telling them to not look for other solutions as whatever is needed is there on dataSAVI and if not, then can be connected through dataSAVI. dataSAVI becomes a singular intelligent repository. This helps in retaining customers.

But lastly and perhaps most importantly, we are a very hard-working and diligent service provider. We do what it takes to ensure that the solution is working in the client site, very often, even at the expense of our profitability.

We give fair advice to our customers, we even tell them not to buy certain solutions if it is really not needed. We truly behave like their extended arm. And this is recognized by our customers. Quite a few of our customers are long standing, they have been with us for many years.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are a profitable venture and we are adding customers across both Supply Chain Planning, Supply Chain Automation, and Process Automation solutions. Given the breadth of applications that we offer coupled with a strong technology backbone and an enthusiastic customer-oriented team, we believe that we have a solid base from which to grow.

Our references are across the entire breadth of industries such as Pharma, FMCG, Tyre, Auto Components, Consumer Electrical / Durables, Chemicals, Textiles, Labs, Retail, Travel, Education and include more than 100 customers, a significant number from the Top 500 companies in India.

After having spent close to a decade serving Indian customers, we do believe it is our time to take our solutions globally. We do believe we are ready and are looking forward to new horizons. We are in talks with more Consultants / Influencers both in India and globally who can help increase the visibility of our solutions.

We are also trying to see how we can broad base our solutions to address non-Supply Chain and Non Manufacturing companies. We have been successful in addressing the needs of an Education Venture, needs of Field Sales Reporting, needs of Automation of Certification and Dossier Management, etc. these are diverse needs and it is very interesting to see the versatility of our dataSAVI platform in addressing this assortment of automation use cases.

Let’s see what the future is in store for us!!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We are a technology company that actually provides the Platform and Tools.

So we will be happy to be linked to as many companies who are looking to Automate their operations.

However, we do not operate in a vacuum. We use several tools and technology for product development, team management, client communication, sales, and marketing, etc.

dataSAVI backend Low Code Generator is written in MVC. We use Angular 7 for the frontend. We integrate with Azure / Microsoft tools of PowerBI, LUIS Chatbot, ML Studio, Excel; with open source tools like R, Redis Cache; with IBM tools like CPLEX / DropSolve; with Google tools such as Maps / Charts, etc. and a host of various small tools/technologies that help offer the diversity of our solutions.

You can get more information on our product dataSAVI on this page.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We always are on the lookout for people who are enthusiastic, problem-solvers, love to come up with new ideas, initiatives, and solve challenges.

We have a strong team comprising Analysts, Math Modelers, Program Managers, Project Leads, Business Development Managers, Developers, UI/UX Designers, etc.

We are strong participants and advocates of the gig economy. A significant number of our developers are talented young mothers who have taken a break but can give some of their invaluable time. We offer a flexible and learning space for them.

We leverage the use of the gig economy to other roles such as Program Managers for our large projects and Affiliate Marketers to become partners in selling our products/services.

You can reach out to us, and if we find a good fit, we’ll be more than happy to offer you an exciting role.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about our products and solutions on our website. If you want to schedule a quick online demo, email us at [email protected].

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!