What if a common man, earning less as less as Rs 100 per day could have an easy access to financial services like insurance policies, pension plans and loans? What if all he had to do was shell out a day’s income to enjoy the benefits of these services? If all this seems a little far-fetched, think again. With his startup D20 (Distribution 2.o), Mukut Deepak has now transformed this reverie into a tangible reality. Committed to spreading financial literacy in this world, Distribution 2.o offers low cost, easy to use financial services through a nationwide distribution network of convenience stores. The Headstart team got in touch with Mukut Deepak and interviewed him about his journey down the entrepreneurial path and the challenges he faced while working on his startup Distribution 2.o.
HS: How did you come up with the idea of Distribution 2.0?
MD: During my channel management stint at HUL (Hindustan Unilever Limited), I got infected with the idea of partnering with neighborhood convenience stores. I loved the enterprise, the customer service there and the business acumen that these retailers displayed. Later during my consulting stint at BCG and then at ThinkLink, I realized how difficult it is for new entrant to set up a country wide distribution network. Distribution 2.0 was born out of my wonderful experiences in these companies. The Telecom revolution and the retailing of telecom services through convenience stores also helped us come up with the idea of Distribution 2.o and the retailing of financial services through convenience stores.
HS: Is your core business related to selling insurance products or setting up a distribution network that is product agnostic?
MD: Our core business is building a first of its kind national distribution network. Eventually this will be a product agnostic distribution network. Financial services and insurance within financial services will continue to be our focus for a significant period though.
HS: If you were looking at making a pure distribution network, then why didn’t you start up with something simpler, against a product which is unknown to a major part of our country?
MD: We see a new product category as more of an opportunity rather than a challenge. Conventional product distribution in itself is much commoditized. Pure distribution play becomes interesting only after a certain stage. At a more emotional plane, there is thrill in venturing into unchartered waters and creating a new path that never existed before.
HS: Can you tell us more about the targets that you have achieved till date?
MD: We have been here for over 12 months now. We have successfully developed a prototype that can be replicated. Currently, we have over 200 stores in and around Chembur and Sion. We are expanding operations within Mumbai to newer locations on the harbor line.
HS: Your model of business is heavy on operations. Any plans of using technology as an enabler and a cost cutting mechanism?
MD: Technology will be a key enabler going forward. We would use technology to make our operations more efficient and improve end customer experience. The end objective would be to move away from paper based transactions completely.
HS: What is the team strength of your startup currently?
MD: We are a 6 member team right now. Additionally, there is a 5 member hired team that works on the retailing of products through different convenience stores
HS: Can you tell us more about the challenges you faced while starting up Distribution 2.0?
MD: Like every other startup, we faced several challenges in the area of product ownership, building the brand strength, expanding the distribution network, and implementation of technology to improve the efficiency of operation.
HS: What according to you is that one critical quality that makes an entrepreneur?
MD: According to me, the ability to dream big and build a team from scratch is one of the critical qualities of an entrepreneur.
Headstart wishes Mukut Deepak and the Distribution 2.0 team a great success in their future endeavors.
To know more about Distribution 2.0 and its services, check out Distribution 2.0 website
Interviewed by Saptarshi Chatterjee