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   Dec 11

Real Origin of GROFERS

BACKGROUND

Wanted to share the real story behind the name “Grofers”. How it was coined Any guesses! Story goes back to while I was at California just after graduating from University of Central Florida. While at UCF, I had been friends with a few IITians namely Albinder Dhindsa (Albi), Kamal Goyal, Anurag Pandey, Piyush Nawathe, Ravi, Nizam and lots of juniors. Albi was pursuing his Masters in Transportation Engineering. All of them were roommates/batchmates. I had been pursuing my Internship at Orlando, FL while Kamal at Tampa, FL. Having developed a few patented softwares I knew about computer systems. We used to hangout at Piyush’s/Anurag/Albi’s… residence on weekends & sometimes mine, on Goldenrod road while in FL, whenever Kamal used to visit from Tampa, FL. Hanging out with Savio, I was into Rock & Heavy Metal music. After Sav left for India there was a void surprisingly, Piyush liked to listen to it to. Playing music, having a couple of drinks we used to discuss business ideas & chill. During Sept-Oct of 2005, one of the weekends while we were partying and I was an intern, I had mentioned about the plan to perceive something on the lines of amazon but refrained from mentioning the fine details. It wasn’t a big deal as it wasn’t out of the box but recognizing the gaps where big corporates were not strong enough was the key to disruption.

INCEPTION

How grofers orginated

 

 

 

 

 

 

The economy wasn’t very good & everyone kept moving places. After cracking a few interviews, in 2007 I decided to move to Irvine, Cali. I got a full time contract position in Cali. I had lost my phone, while leaving FL. Luckily had a backup of my contacts. Kamal passed me the lost cell phone numbers. We used to arrange conference calls & stay in touch back then. Later in 2008 moved to the Bay Area.

My objective was to develop valuable softwares learn more web based tech at the same time, so that I could implement my ideas. Working for a couple of years at Silicon Valley gave me the courage & right tech for my ideas.
Had lost touch with lot of these guys except a few. I used to share business ideas with Kamal a lot. While Kamal was visiting New York to Albi’s place, we exchanged business ideas. As mentioned earlier, thought came to my mind that if Amazon is into delivering mainly non-perishable items why not get into perishable items part. The market was huge sector wise. India was booming at 9% GDP growth rate with people busier than ever. Later, I thought name is also an important part. It should be something that the dictionary does not have. I have to make a new addition to the dictionary.

A strong shot of Peets coffee at downtown Pleasant Hill, CA, had all kinds of ideas rushing through my mind. I came up with two marketing phrases namely “Go Fresh” & “Grow Fresh”. Wrote a small program on my laptop for random string manipulator with GRO (for GROW) as starting point for the strings. Later went home & settled down with an Irish beer. Next day took a handful of combinations from the outputs at the same coffee house.
Sat down with a cup of tea all by myself, two hours after looking at the most likable outputs, decided to settle with one. Numerous thoughts ran but the closest one to Grocers was GROFERS and more humane. Having the H in front of GROFERS sounded like a rural tone in India which would have been hard to market the Urban sectors. Hence decided to drop the H. I had also drawn caricatures of the logo with the company slogan –“GO FRESH” which was supposed to be animated. The logo was quite similar to the present one, and it has a lot of influence of Peets Coffee. Peets coffee is a P on a squarish. GROFERS has a G with a dot on circle to maintain symmetry. The dot on the right I had suggested, to resemble the dot over “i” in panchi as in my signature. Basically it wasn’t as simple as replacing the C with F in Grocers.If you are targeting a lot of teenagers, marketing is a lot easier as urbandictionary mentions it “to be permanantly attached to someone you love whether you like it or not”. Well wikipedia hardly mentions about this fact. Next day evening gave a ring to Kamal while he was in New York & said if you can find an investor for a business idea I would reveal the name. I was new to Cali & really wanted to get in touch with a Venture Capitalist. Waited for a couple of days & thought of purchasing the domain but bingo finally gave in the name to Kamal & Albi. I had naive ways of finding a VC/investor. I used to start my day early like 5am working out at high class gyms or playing squash, tennis, golf while in FL, NY and Cali. It helped me beat the stress stay healthy, and give perspectives in exploring tech requirements in sports. Well, I was also wondering if my former employers would want to invest, but their attitude was that of snatching away the opportunity as few VC’s in India have. I made a few C-level contacts but had to go higher. The immigration laws made it moreover difficult to pursue ideas in the US. One becomes inundated with the paper work & the legal status maintenance. These hassles are completely distract you from your objective. I recall stating that the idea would be difficult to implement in US because of stringent compliance regulations required by USFDA & EPA on food items. It would be better to experiment with the idea in India.

CONCLUSION

grofers not a fortune cookie

I gotta say that No it wasn’t a fortune cookie in which someone found GROFERS written. Coming back to India it was extremely difficult to convince about my ideas to my family members who had little faith in me with a few exceptions than my parents. Growing organically is not so easy as it seems. Even if you are moderately rich support system in Indian families is rarity unless you are from business circles. However, there is a lot to learn about networking from IITians – Deepinder Goyal also an IITian the seed investor in Grofers. I found IITians really sticking out and reaching out to fellow IITians unlike people from other institutions while studying in the US. Columbia Business School, NY does bring ideas to reality by providing the right ecosystem. A chance to meet with the top notch Venture Capitalists is more than enough and a lifetime opportunity. I was really impressed with the Columbia Business School StartupLab program watching it online. I hardly care about the idea anymore, since, I’m abundant of creative ideas & they just don’t let me sleep. I had been thinking about writing this blog for long finally the truth being told. After I saw “GROFERS” delivery logo with name at Nagpur, it rang a bell. I searched for who was behind it, & I was shocked(obviously) at the same time glad for Albi, but I could not understand why I was kept in dark. Well, being a B2B business during early stages it was difficult to get noticed. Certainly coining the name is not a big deal one may guess unless its “Microsoft” or “Google” until you make it work matters most. It was pretty much clear that Albi pursued the idea with extreme interest. Columbia Business School gave him the extra edge to refine the business idea & propose the same to Vcs. On the other hand I wanted to grow the idea organically through self funding. When one talks about self funding, it is difficult to achieve high quality optimization in delivery, manufacturing of a valuable product/service. Optimization also requires iterations and its difficult without a strong team. If I would have gotten in touch with Marc Andreessen or Ben Horowitz or approached Sequoia while in the bay area, the story could have been different. The only problem was need of a full time job in an unsteady economy & conviction to grow the idea organically. If I would have prepared the prototype I was counting on meeting Foundry group, & Khosla ventures.
This has taught me a lot on how to share ideas on when & when not to. How to achieve scale on an idea before speaking out? Basically, if one wants to develop organically secrecy is utmost important before launching an idea and its way more time consuming. With funding things get a little bit easier. However, my Business plan was B2C right from the start quite different than Albi’s a B2B. Revenue generation model would have been quite different with features embedded in the app. Well, if Albi is reading this I suggest you should include “GO FRESH” with the logo & what was the reason to drop Kamal & myself. Lets drop the If I for now and watch us hopefully disrupting the health care sector & the legal sector with innovative ideas. Thanks for your time reading this….

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One Comment

  1. I do accept as true with all the ideas you have introduced on your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for
    beginners. May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?

    Thanks for the post.

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