Bundle is a web platform for wholesale buyers to discover new suppliers and streamline interactions with their existing suppliers by managing inventory, ordering and paying on a single portal.
Location: San Francisco
Product / Service Offering: Inventory, ordering, and invoicing solution for restaurants
Co-founder Interviewed: Karthik Vellanki
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I started working on Bundle when I was at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The product went through various iterations before getting to the current form. The overarching motivation has been to build a product that eases the friction in the supply chain.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
The company was started in the summer of 2016, but it went through various product iterations. We spoke to various small businesses ranging from dental offices to convenience stores to understand their problems. The idea was born out of those discussions.
The product was built for a different market at first; however, I realized it served the needs of the hospitality industry very well. We decided to pivot to the current product that addresses a key pain point for restaurants, cafes, and bars.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Restaurants still use spreadsheets to take inventory and order over the phone. They have the additional burden of dealing with multiple paper invoices. We are providing them a web and mobile platform, which allows them to manage inventory, order from their suppliers, and pay all their invoices digitally. In addition to providing a centralized solution which is accessible to everyone, Bundle also helps restaurants reduce wastage by providing key insights.
While we are targeting the hospitality vertical, the product has utility for any business that has inventory and purchases from suppliers on a recurring basis.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
There is quite a bit of competition in the space, but the ease of use is what sets us apart. Traditionally, people in the hospitality industry have been averse to using technology because of the elaborate setup and complicated workflows. We have built tools that have reduced the setup time to less than 15 minutes, which means you can switch to Bundle without any investment of time.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The lack of domain expertise was quite a challenge. It is hard to understand the problems on the ground without being in that situation. I spent several hours talking to prospective customers to really understand the problem. On the flip side, an outsider’s perspective does help challenge conventional wisdom and change status quo.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
One of the best resources is other founders. People who have built successful companies are definitely a great help. Founders who are in a similar stage as you can be a great resource as well because they are all facing similar problems.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
Funding from accelerators was the most viable option for us because we were iterating on the product while we were trying to achieve the product-market. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done anything different on the funding aspect, but I would have been more frugal with our expenditure.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
In the B2B space, it is very hard to get your first few customers, especially when you do not have a personal network in that space. There is a lot of advice out there on sales in the growth phase of the company, but there is really no playbook to acquire your very first customers.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Product messaging is a challenge especially in a crowded space. The product can be great. You need people to give it a try to understand the benefits and realize why it’s different from the competitors. To get to that stage, we need to nail our product messaging, which is something we are grappling with.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Do not take everyone’s advice. It is important to listen to everyone’s advice, but eventually we have to make decisions based on our own convictions. I have been fortunate to have some incredible mentors and advisors. More often than not, your vantage point makes you better equipped to make decisions.
Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!