Insiders: Meet Proenx one of the Mainstage Portfolio startups
Insiders is a section where we cover profiles, projects and startups from the Mainstage ecosystem. Today we introduce you to ProenX , one of MSI Portfolio startups.
Proenx — RDEP offers next-gen store solutions that enable retailers to serve their customers across all sales channels with a highly convenient and personalized shopping experience driven by intuitive design. Learn more about the project with Pavan.
- Pavan, tell us a bit about yourself, and what drew you to entrepreneurship?
I started my career in the 90’s as a developer first and then moved towards pre-sales and sales eventually. I had an amazing start to my career, wherein my bosses supported and encouraged me a lot in everything I did. I would like to mention the name of Abhijeet Vaidya, who was my super boss in the first job and later on my direct boss. He provided the right environment for juniors like us to think independently and face the challenges. After having worked for 8 years in the corporate world, I decided to get into entrepreneurship way back in 1998. It was not a very conducive eco-system back then, but with some very good friends and family support, we took the plunge.
The idea that I can work on something new and charter my own future was very exciting at that stage. I had not anticipated all the challenges of a startup at that time. However, the experience of that first venture gave me enough reasons to continue as an entrepreneur. ProenX is my 5th venture and every bit of this journey has been worth it. I have learnt a lot in these 20 odd years and would love to keep going ahead.
- How has the journey been so far in the retail space for you?
Right from the corporate job to my first venture, I have been involved with the retail industry. Retail has been fascinating and I have seen it go through its challenges. There was a lot of noise around how everyone thought that Structured or Enterprise retail was dying around 6 to 8 years ago. We have all now realised that it is not the “retail” which is dying, but it is the “bad retail” which is dying or will die. Lack of engagement which leads to a mediocre customer experience is perhaps the single most important reason why enterprise retail has gone down.
The idea of RDEP was conceived to try and help the retailers to plug that gap. A platform which allows the retailer to “Engage, Interact and Transact”.
- What are some important moments or events that have stayed with you over these past few years?
As in most of the start-ups, we have had our challenges. In such trying conditions, the perseverance shown by a few of our young team members like Rashid, Ritesh, Pallab, Madhav and Sagar was exemplary. I can never forget their resolve. They believed in the product and I would like to believe that they trusted me to take this ahead. This has stayed with me for the past 3 years.
At the same time, I cannot also forget the day when we went LIVE for the first time. This moment happened amidst a lot of chaos — horrible financial condition of the venture, senior team members quitting and absolutely very little hope.
Thereafter, there were quite a few precious moments –
When we scaled from 5 stores to 65 in a week.
When we signed our contract with the entire Future Group
When we signed up with our first international customer — Kmart.
Every day has been precious and we as a team now look forward to many more exciting times ahead.
- What would you say are your top 3 achievements as a start-up?
1. Building the confidence in a young team to work on a large enterprise product like RDEP
2. Signing with Future Group, one of the largest retailers in India
3. Deploying the solution in over 200 stores remotely during the pandemic for Kmart, Australia
- As a serial entrepreneur, what advice would you give to new start-ups or young entrepreneurs?
Apart from figuring out the market fit and working on a tech product, the most important attribute one must develop is “Perseverance”. Do not get carried away by the “fail fast” philosophy.
- Tell us about your relationship with Mainstage Incubator.
Debasis, the COO at Mainstage, has seen us right from our early days and we developed a great relationship. He has been a sounding board for many of my GTM strategies. When he spoke to me about MSI, I knew it would be the right step for us to get into the international market. My subsequent meetings with Swen, CEO at MSI, gave me the comfort and confidence that MSI is not just any other accelerator, but they are genuinely your partners in sales. This association in the past few months has been a major milestone for us and we are already seeing the benefits.
- What lies ahead for ProenX?
Currently, our focus is very clear — acquire customers as many as we can cater to, without any compromise in the quality. We would like to generate value for our customers and hence it is important for us to be focused in this space of “last mile retail” and continuously enhance and update our platform as per the needs of our customers. We firmly believe that our customers know their business and we know how to help them in their business.