Over the last few years, to be or not to be ‘full stack’ has become a key business decision. The market leaders in all domains – Swiggy, Zomato, Oyo, Byju’s etc., are seeding their version of full stack by expanding vertically. The impact of this trend on early to medium stage startups is not insignificant. To throw some light on this, we invited our portfolio companies to share their thoughts and perspectives on their ‘full stack experience and journey’.
The panel consisted of Yash Sehgal (BeatO), Sanna Vohra (Wedding Brigade), Samir Bangara (Qyuki) and Mihir Mohan (Pitstop), with Sajith Pai from Blume Ventures moderating the panel. Sajith started off the panel by addressing how full stack is becoming a global phenomenon, where the likes of Netflix & Amazon are producing content, Opendoor is buying houses, and Swiggy, Zomato are exploring cloud kitchens. He then teed off the discussion by asking the following question – “What was the key driver for the decision to go full stack – higher margins, exclusive access to better data, better control over inventory and quality, better control over customer experience, or fundraising?”
To summarize, we’re listing a few takeaways from the discussion –
1. The Wedding angle: Sanna Vohra (Cofounder, Wedding Brigade) said that providing ‘better & branded experience’ to the customer was the ultimate driver to go full stack. By exercising higher control over the entire process of wedding bookings ( beyond merely suggesting options), they feel closer to realizing the goal to provide the best wedding experience to the average middle-class Indian family. Wedding Brigade has also launched a private label brand ‘Kinna Sohna’ recently as another piece to their full stack story.
2. The content & commerce angle: Samir from Qyuki – a startup that serves a third of the total video watching base – said that data was the piece most valuable to them. Qyuki has become the holy grail for predictive analytics in the online content space – Samir believes they’re now best placed to answer questions like what will work, who will work, what must change. Owning Talent, Content, and Commerce, which is Qyuki’s version of full stack, has pinned them to this position.
3. The healthcare angle: For Yash (BeatO), the journey to full stack was one full of learnings. They started off with a focussed offering and expanded to offering foods, insurance, glucometers and more. How did that happen? Because the customer expected a fuller range of services from BeatO as their trusted Diabetes coach, and often demanded of them.
4. The service delivery angle: Pitstop’s calling for rounded services came when they received a bunch of customer complaints regarding service areas that were controlled by third-party vendors, and not them – “Our facebook rating was 1.5!” They decided that they had to own the three pillars of customer experience – (1) the mechanic (2) his tools and (3) the car’s spare parts. Pitstop now has a Facebook rating of 4.5.
The panel concluded with closing remarks on hiring and capital requirements –
1. Horses for courses: Hiring team members suited to the areas you’re going deeper helps. For e.g., Pitstop hired automotive engineers as they started owning end-to-end car repair service. Wedding Brigade had to hire people who had experience in offline areas of the wedding industry, such as venue management.
2. Capital raising is not a big challenge as going full stack also means greater cash inflows, and this can be deployed carefully to meet the increased cash needs of going full stack. Broadly, panellists believe that cash spent on going full stack will lead to more cash earnt for them from the expanded billing amount.
In interest of the readers, we’ve tried to present a concise version of the discussion through this blog. For more, you can check out the enclosed video.