Vulcan Post

These M’sians Thought The B2B Supply Chain Was Unfair, So They Built A Platform To Fix It

Convenience is a much sought after commodity in business dealings. Every party wants to be able to perform tasks quickly and simply, without any hiccups. This is especially true when it comes to buying and selling in large quantities; no one enjoys having to visit multiple vendors, deal with payment gateways, and face the possibility of a purchase gone wrong. Lapasar aims to solve this problem in the B2B sector by promising businesses the benefit of saving time and cost through an online procurement system that makes it easy to buy in bulk. Founded in 2016 and operational since 2017, Lapasar is the brainchild of 28-year-old Thinesh Kumar—a Business and Human Resource Management graduate with experience running a medical device distribution—and a team of four other friends brought along from his previous business.
Image Credit: Lapasar
It all began when Thinesh participated in a tender for his medical device business in 2016. He found that the tender itself already had a pre-determined winner, effectively reducing the business opportunities for all other participants to nothing. “The breakthrough idea came when I was discussing this matter with my friends Lakshman Das and Sharath Bani,” he explained.
“We deduced that providing a purchasing system for corporations that gave equal opportunities to deserving vendors could greatly transform the business landscape in Malaysia.”
In 2017, the team built a prototype for their platform and proceeded to change and improve it based on their collaborations with 30 companies to identify the pain points that were present in corporate procurement. By August 2017, the first version of Lapasar.com was born.

E-Procurement Simplified

In a nutshell, Lapasar is a one-stop platform for companies to purchase their office and business needs through a system that acts like a B2C “add-to-cart and checkout” service. Lapasar also provides businesses with procurement features to help companies establish governance within their respective procurement departments to up efficiency and convenience.
Image Credit: Lapasar.com
On the front end, the service will act as a B2B marketplace where businesses can buy anything from pantry supplies to IT equipment, with Lapasar promising businesses a quick and easy procurement process in contrast to the bureaucratic and complicated processes associated with more traditional forms of procurement. This also helps qualified vendors get the business they deserve, as opposed to them losing out in predetermined tenders. Delving deeper into the service, users will find a backend that will allow them to set customised workflows for their respective offices and departments via features such as Audit Logs, Vendor Management and Report Generation. “We ultimately aspire to provide an end-to-end supply chain solution that includes logistics, warehousing, a wholesale market, and a payment solution,” said Lakshman Das, COO of Lapasar.
“We believe that by making our solution world-class, more and more businesses will benefit from our service, and therefore allow us to elevate more SMEs as conventional businesses move online.”
On that note, Thinesh said that Lapasar aims to “bring at least 50% of the country’s large corporations onto Lapasar.com by 2020.” Buyers will get to use the Lapasar service for free, and will find the reduced time taken to make purchases (from more than a week down to a day) along with the cost effectiveness of using the platform huge draws.

Persistence Pays Off

Speaking on challenges, Chief Process Officer of Lapasar, Dannis Raj was able to point out their initial problems in securing vendors for their platform. “We found a lack of trust from vendors as they didn’t think we could bring them a diverse range of corporations, much less improve their sales,” he said.
“We also found that the traditional method of procurement was so ingrained in corporate culture that procurement managers couldn’t believe how easy our platform was to use.”
So in order to overcome this obstacle, Lapasar simply proceeded to keep trying and trying. “We figured we needed only 1 in 100 vendors to say yes and come on board at a time,” Dannis said. “We used this simple statistic in everything we did and eventually we managed to get our first 10 active vendors.”
Image Credit: Lapasar
Another challenge they faced was managing client and investor expectations during the development stage of Lapasar. “We learned the bittersweet lesson of not going to market before making sure that the product itself is ready,” Dannis added. “Rushing to the market while also rushing the developers will only result in a substandard outcome.” “To deal with this, we learned to manage expectations,” he continued. “We found that under-promising was always better than over-promising, and while some clients didn’t agree, most of them managed to cooperate with us when we asked them for a little more time.” Having begun with a capital of RM2k to build a ‘pre-prototype’, Lapasar now operates in the six-figure region monthly, and expect to hit seven-figures per month by the end of 2018.

The Bigger Picture

On Lapasar’s business journey so far, Thinesh was keen to point out many significant milestones and events. This included getting investments from Nexea Angels, Watchtower and Friends and Cradle, the rejection of RM600k from a potential investor (they were required to compromise on providing equal opportunities), and securing a nationwide deal with one of Malaysia’s largest telcos (whose name cannot be revealed yet), all within 5 months of being operational.
Image Credit: Lapasar
He also proceeded to detail the plans that Lapasar had for the future. “Our main plan in the next three years is to focus on Malaysia first,” he said. “We want to make sure we gain a substantial market share among the 13,000 large corporations in Malaysia.” Following that sentiment, Lapasar aims to bring aboard 60 companies as clients by the end of 2018 and also hope to launch a wholesale market to help vendors source from manufacturers more effectively. “Following that, we also aim to enter payment services, which we will actively pursue within three years,” Thinesh added. “We will then factor in regional expansion from our fourth year forward.” Summing up, Thinesh once again reiterated Lapasar’s goal to boost the nation’s economy by elevating SMEs to become nationwide vendors, and was optimistic on their ability to achieve that target.
“Not to mention we are a very young team handling a very sensitive business, and would say we are doing a considerably good job.”
Also Read

How This M’sian Startup Is Giving E-Wallets To People Who Don’t Even Have Bank Accounts

Image Credit: Lapasar