Thinking one step ahead
- Co-founders Aiko Reyes and Nel Laygo of 500-backed fintech startup Peddlr had humble beginnings in the rural town of Samar, Philippines; getting there involves a 2-3 hour drive on rough roads.
- “Here, the sari-sari store is a hero of the community,” Aiko said. “Whenever I go back, stores like my favorite pizza place, my favorite shaved iced store — they’re still using manual processes; everything on pen and paper, like it’s been stuck in time for more than 30 years.”
- “These businesses suffer because they don’t track inventory or handle operations properly,” she added. “They will give customers credit and afterwards, lose track. They don’t have visibility of their cash because they put it all in a notebook or in their minds. They often end up closing.”
- It’s no wonder that Aiko has made it her mission to help sari-sari stores, or microbusinesses, like these go digital. But, there’s the obstacle of business owners assuming that it would be expensive, and there’s low trust in the Internet.
- But Peddlr is one step ahead. The app works offline too and its basic features are free! “So you don’t have to have a strong internet connection,” she explained. “You can download the app, and use it for your inventory and accounting. You can even print receipts by Bluetooth.”
- “Our core product is inventory management; most of these shopkeepers have been doing business for decades without even knowing the peso value of their current inventory,” Aiko shared. “Connected to that, we also have ledgers to monitor cash flow and [invoicing], and have a function to create digital catalogs so the business owners can participate in e-commerce.”
- Today, the app has been downloaded 2.1 million times and the team serves 1 million registered merchants. And it all started from the co-founders posting in Facebook groups daily about their free POS (point-of-sale) system.
- The team’s focus now is to push digitalization, and they plan to roll-out financial services in 2023. Amid predictions of bleak market conditions and funding next year, Aiko had this to say: “The best source of funding is your users and customers.”
- Read the full interview on Rest of World.
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