Patanjali Ayurved founders, Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna have always created excitement in the corporate world with their out-of-the-box ways of doing business. The exponential growth of their FMCG business (which in the last couple of years has slowed down considerably) had forced several incumbents to pull up their socks and the duo are now set to surprise industry yet again, by foraying into technology. The group has launched a technology start-up, Bharuwa Solutions, which boasts of five patented technologies in supply chain management, distribution, soil testing, fertiliser calculation and backward linkage. In an interview with Business Today, Acharya Balkrishna, MD, Patanjali Ayurved said his company's entire distribution, supply chain management and retail billing is done through the software created by Bharuwa Solutions and the company in the last one year has invested upwards of Rs 100 crore to get its tech platform in place.
So, what pushed Patanjali Ayurved to kickstart Bharuwa Solutions? "Necessity is the mother of invention. When you are in a crisis you need to find out novel ways of coming out of it. We realised we needed to think differently to solve our supply chain challenge," explains Balkrishna. After having seen revenue growth of over Rs 10,000 crore between 2011 and 2017, Patanjali Ayurved's revenue dipped steeply to Rs 8,135 crore in 2017/18. In 2018/19, the company reported a marginal 2.38 per cent growth. Though he says demonetisation followed by the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) brought the FMCG major's growth to a grinding halt in the last two years, its supply chain and distribution inefficiencies are well-known. If one asked any retailer about Patanjali even prior to demonetisation, the obvious response was that their product replenishment cycle was quite bad. "We moved to a new tax regime, but our supply chain and distribution network was as per the VAT era. Some MNCs were prepared for GST, but we hadn't thought about complications. Now we have made the required corrections and are ready for the next phase of growth," says Balkrishna. Patanjali has 90 super distributors, 8,000 distributors and 5,000 Patanjali chikitsalays and mega stores, all of which are covered. "You ask retailers 3-4 months from now, you will get a positive feedback about our stock replenishment," he adds.
Post the implementation of GST, the company, says Balkrishna, had spoken to a number of SAP-based solution providers, but they were either expensive or solutions were taking time to implement. "We realised that our supply chain had to be end-to-end. We needed real-time data right from product sourcing to when our product reached the end user. We felt we should make it as per our requirements and timelines and when we developed the product, it turned out to be an industry-first, so we got it patented and registered ourselves as an IT start-up, Bharuwa Solutions," says Balkrishna, who claims that none of the existing supply-chain and distribution software offer real-time data from sourcing to the end user. "We are different because ours is a browser-based single software through which we offer end-to-end solutions. Most of the solution providers bring data from multiple sources, process it and put it on a dashboard which is not real time and it is expensive. Our technology is simple, easy to use, accurate, real time and inexpensive," Balkrishna adds.
Apart from the end to end supply chain and distribution platform, the company offers its patented soil testing and fertiliser calculation technologies through its 'Dharti Ka Doctor' app. "All fertiliser calculation apps till now only calculate chemical fertilisers; our app also calculates organic fertiliser. It will give whole lot of solutions as per the farmer's soil condition," explains Balkrishna. The 'Annadata' app offers backward linkage and traceability mechanisms. The company has also launched a point-of-sales retail app, which enables retailers to order Patanjali products online.
Balkrishna says that the plan is to scale up his tech start-up into a full-blown technology major. He also plans to start selling his technology to third parties. "The worst is over. We will close at over Rs 10,000 crore this fiscal. There was never a problem of acceptance of our products. The issue was with availability, and we have sorted that out."