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Saturday, June 6, 2020
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Low-cost vending machine acting as a point of sale (POS) aiming to help students and corporate personnel

Ahmedabad, Gujarat based startup Rapidcode, founded by Mr. Ishan Lakhwani to provide hot meal boxes through vending machines. Ishan Lakhwani aim to make the customer shopping experience better and automate the retail industry. Currently vending FMCG (fast moving consumer goods).

Ishan, how did you come up with the idea of Rapidcode?

I had an entrepreneurial mind set from a very young age, in my first year of college I felt a problem that all engineers study at last moment. Your marks will depend on, the quality of notes you can get hands on the last day. Many times, I studied whole night from the wrong notes and couldn’t score well in exams. Me and my friend (Dhruv) came up with an idea to solve the problem.

We made a website that contains notes shared by toppers and study material from the faculty. The website was named Copiefast (www.copiefast.com), in a week it gained more than 2000 users. I went to Bangalore for an internship, there I was shopping in D-mart. I just wanted to buy a Rs 11 Maggie pack. When I went to the checkout section there, I saw there were more than 22 counters, still had to stand for about half hour to pay for the Maggie. This problem got stuck in my mind, thinking of a solution. One day, I was at an airport and saw a vending machine there. That very moment I got solution to the problem I was thinking about. Researched on vending machines and why this domain in undiscovered in India, whereas in Japan most of the retail in automated by vending machines.

Japan has one vending machine for every 22 people in the country. They have a vending machine for everything! Me and my friend Dhruv Shah came up with an idea of using the weight-based approach for vending items. We worked on the idea and made a proof of concept of a vending machine made in 50K (bootstrapped). The model we made was 98% accurate and 7 times cheaper than a standard vending machine. We presented the Idea at GUSEC and the team liked the concept and secured incubation there.

Rapidcode as winner at Startup Weekend

What problem Rapidcode is solving?

The customer shopping experience in India in not good, you have to wait in long queues even to buy just a few products. It’s proven by researchers that 9 out of 10 customers leaves a queue if made to wait for more than 20 minutes. We did market surveys and research on the vending industry and why the vending industry is not so popular in India. Whereas in Japan vending industries are flourishing and professionals are trying to make 90% of shopping automated. This is due to the labour is costlier than the vending machines, in accordance of the decreasing population in the country. In India, due to the overpopulation, as compared to Japan, the labour is cheaper than the vending machines, it is not feasible to automate the shopping due to availability of cheap labour. The solution we came up with is a low-cost vending machine which will act as a point of sale (POS), currently for FMCG.

How does Rapidcode work?

The machine has 4 sections each containing items of particular weight. The user just has to scan his/her RFID card, open the cabinet, take the items he wants. That simple! The machine will identify the products and number of products based on Weight-based algorithm and the charge the customer’s account immediately.

What is your larger goal and vision?

We aim to change the way people shop in India, make an impact in the retail industry by make 20+ machines live in the next year.

Ishan Lakhwani’s Vision

What is target market for Rapidcode?

Target audience will by mostly the college students and corporate employees searching for a quick snack. Currently the company is based in Ahmedabad, incubated at GUSEC (Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council). We are planning to expand to Bangalore and Pune.

How much time did Rapidcode took you from conceptualization to actually launching Rapidcode in the market?

It took about one year to come-up with the right concept, after trying all the possible solutions that can make the customer shopping experience better and completing the proof of concept.

What is the revenue model of Rapidcode?

Revenue is generated by two models – Markup and Rent or Lease. We place machines with FMCG products with a higher price. Also, we give our machines on rent or lease basis to shopkeepers and people wanting to start a side income.

How your current profile has transformed you as a person?

By working to build a startup from scratch you learn a lot of things that you could never have on your own. The journey has made me understand and excelling all the pillars to business including programming, accounting and finance.

Anything, you would like to say to our readers or fellow business people?

Don’t run behind grade. Chase intellectual and creative excellence.

Advice to Startups

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