Artificial intelligence and cloud have successfully transformed the lives of small Kirana store owners in local parlance, with the set-up of a virtual logistics firm, ElasticRun. It is a Pune-based Kirana commerce platform founded in 2016 by the trio, Sandeep Deshmukh, Shitiz Bansal, and Saurabh Nigam, with the mission of transforming the lives of the village grocers. ElasticRun aims to be the de facto channel for Indian businesses to reach the under services rural market by catering to them with food, analytics, e-commerce, and manufacturing platforms.
As per the recent series E funding round led by the company, it was able to scoop up over $300 million. It also gathered investments from various companies like Softbank, which headed the round Rs. 1342.3 crore, followed by Proses Ventures (Rs. 409 crores), Goldman Sachs (Rs. 272.5 crores), Chimetech (Rs. 225 crores), and Gablehorn Investments (Rs. 11.2 crores). This deal allowed ElasticRun to reach a valuation of $1.5 billion and become the seventh Indian startup to join the unicorn club in 2022.
It has gradually scaled up into multiple geographies from being a common food delivery app to providing a good transportation network for hassle-free end-to-end deliveries. Shitiz Bansal, co-founder, and CTO of ElasticRun says, “As we scale into multiple geographies, we expect our technology to scale too. We chose Azure Kubernetes Services because it provides a highly scalable cloud-native architecture for our platforms.” The company has also extended its hands on other industries like pharma and general merchandising, along with credit card services, by partnering with banks and NBFCs.
The company also partnered with some of the existing e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart, to make easy deliveries to customers. This rural Kirana network is the best way to channel trade, finance, and data of $600 billion consumption in India.
The lockdown induced by the Covid-19 pandemic was the toughest time for small businesses. ElasticRun came out as a valuable asset by maintaining the supply lines and fulfilling the demands of essential goods in rural areas. “It wasn’t just an advantage for the store owners because they didn’t have to travel; it was that they couldn’t. If we were not there, their supply lines would have been broken,” said Sandeep Deshmukh.
In just five years, ElasticRun has largely emerged from strengthening an agile workforce, beating the shortage of pandemic supplies to using data and technology to offer a wide range of services in rural areas.