posted on 17 Feb 2021
We sat down with Nitin Chhabra, Founder of Ace Turtle, to chat about his entrepreneurial journey and the challenges faced during the pandemic.
How did you get the idea for Ace Turtle?
I spent most of my career in leadership roles in the retail industry, during which I realized how the web is impacting retail and a gap lies in developing omni-channel capabilities for a brand. Ecommerce was just picking up in India during this period and price points were also improving, though it was largely discount driven. One of the incidents that triggered our realization was how one of our partner international footwear brand was getting orders from small cities such as Guwahati and Jamshedpur on Myntra (online ecommerce platform), although those cites were not in their business plan. So we realized that there were pockets of customers spread across the country, who might not be large enough in numbers to put up a store there, but eCommerce could be a great way of reaching them.
What is the toughest problem you are solving for your customers?
Fulfilling customer demand in real time irrespective of the physical location or channel.
Typically, inventory is distributed in silos across various stock points – multiple retail stores and warehouses. Additionally, customers are increasingly becoming channel agnostic. Through our platform, we make the inventory fungible and seamlessly move it to the channel where there is demand in real time. This is where Ace Turtle has helped its customers - by integrating all their sales channels and providing a single view of inventory and orders, brands can improve product availability and fulfilment leading to significant rise in sales and profitability.
How was the business impacted by COVID and how did you sustain and recover?
Covid-19 has helped us the way demonetization helped Paytm to grow. During Covid-19 brands realised that omni-channel is now business critical and no longer confined to a board-room discussion. Our first priority was the safety and health of our employees and their families, so we have all been working from home since March. Fortunately for us, we had already invested in collaboration tools for software development. Our people worked hard so that our customers and partners saw no impact on our deliverables to them. Business scaled to 3X on top of mostly existing fixed cost and we became profitable.
What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The challenges faced by retailers accelerated at staggering speed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The pandemic directly affected the supply, demand and daily operations of the retail sector. While some retailers announced major layoffs, we took a call of not firing anyone, and salary cuts were taken up voluntarily. I am grateful to our team who worked beyond their limits and for their consideration during the adversity. The better-than-expected turnaround in our business has made us not only roll back salary cuts but also reward employees with increments and promotions. Never in the history of our company have they been better deserved!
What has been the low point/most challenging situation you have faced?
The uncertain future of the company during lock down was for sure the most challenging situation. Vertex provided us the emotional and financial support during the crisis and we couldn’t have asked for better partners.
How do you destress after work and what do you do for fun?
On Saturdays I prefer to meet people from ours and other industries which helps me learn and get different and new perspectives. I really enjoy that. Then I turn into a vegetable on Sundays. I destress myself by reading and watching documentaries on Netflix. I even have breakfast and lunch in my bed. That recharges me for Monday.
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