A SaaS startup for the price of a small car? This Coimbatore-based startup tells us how

Sriram Sharma June 8, 2017 6 min

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) looking for a quick and easy point-of-sale (POS) solution now have an option that’s free for a lifetime, works on any Chrome-enabled browser, and takes just five minutes to set up.

SlickPOS, a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) software for SMBs, opened its website for business out of a Coimbatore-based university incubator around 45 days ago. Built by a team of five people in 90 days on a shoestring budget of just Rs 2.6 lakh, it just needs 100 customers to sustain itself.

The company has been founded by a group of friends — Saravanakumar CP, Abisek Baskaran, and Kousik Kumar — from PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore, and combines their entrepreneurial learnings from multiple pivots and dead-ends. The founders quit their day jobs three years ago and plunged full-time into startup entrepreneurship.

(L-R): Standing: SlickPoS cofounders Abishek Baskaran, Kousik Kumar, Saravanakumar CP. Sitting: Jayaprakash and Sankar

SlickPOS is designed primarily for SMBs such as cafes, fashion boutiques, small hardware stores, etc. It just takes five minutes to set it up, the developers say, and the app can be run on any internet-connected device — a computer, an iPad, or an Android — that supports Chrome. The app is designed for intermittent connections and can bill without internet access once a user is logged in. The founders also plan to turn SlickPOS into a platform, so that third-party developers can take it up and develop apps for accounting, promotions, and other use cases.

SlickPOS is designed primarily for SMBs such as cafes, fashion boutiques, small hardware stores, etc. Built by a team of five people in 90 days on a shoestring budget of just Rs 2.6 lakh, it just needs 100 customers to sustain itself  

Setting up a SlickPOS starts with a breezy registration process, following which, the user chooses the type of business as a use case. The dashboard presents four options: food and drink, home and lifestyle, fashion boutique, and small retail. If you were running a food and drink establishment, for example, you can add new menu items and their prices in the products tab. Sales are logged on the ‘Sell’ tab, where one can enter the payment type, customer phone number, name, and email. The cashier can sell immediately, or make a booking, or sell on credit. For B2B businesses, additional input fields include shipping address and GST details. The dashboard keeps a log of daily cash in the register, card payments, credit sales and refunds.

SlickPOS offers some preconfigured options to speed up the setup process.
Sales are managed through the ‘Sell’ tab on the dashboard.

The user can also set up product categories, tax policies, and create a pin code for a cashier who is operating the register. There aren’t any direct integrations with cash register hardware yet, though integrations with barcode printers and scanners are in the product pipeline.

SlickPOS offers its core service for free, while the Rs 999/$15 per month ‘Smart’ plan offers priority chat and phone support, and access to an unlimited sales history. There’s a higher-tier ‘Powerful’ plan coming at some point in the future, promising business intelligence tools and a dedicated relationship manager at Rs 2999/$45 per month.

Finding the right product-market fit

Next in the pipeline are iOS and Android mobile apps, which the founders say should be out in a couple of weeks. “We’re also working on inventory management, a feature that most customers want. After that, we want to work on promotions, to help retailers improve their sales,” Saravanakumar tells FactorDaily in a phone conversation. SlickPOS also plans to integrate other third party tools such as Quickbooks and Tally for accounting.

“We’re also working on inventory management, a feature that most customers want. After that, we want to work on promotions, to help retailers improve their sales” — Saravanakumar  

With over 400 sign-ups from across 25 countries so far, the startup plans to grow its user base by offering its core features, such as billing and inventory features, for free. “Our strength is data analytics. We want store owners to be able to use their data to their advantage, improve their sales efficiency, and so on. The most important thing for a store is sales. If we can help them improve sales, any business would be ready to pay money,” Saravanakumar says.

He recaps the journey that led them to the SlickPOS venture. “Back in college, we had formed a company; after that, we all got good jobs and moved away. I was in the US, working for Deloitte Consulting. Abisek was working with Goldman Sachs, and Kousik was with NetApp,” he says.

SlickPOS works on any device that supports a Chrome-enabled browser, and is capable of working on intermittent internet connections

“We had a couple of other pivots — we wanted to be a database intelligence startup, we tried building a couple of products in that domain, but couldn’t find customers for it,” he adds.

Their next startup was a technology-enabled online cake shop called Cakebee. The team automated it with backend technology and delivery management, tools they believed would be useful for other small businesses as well. They found that most POS solutions were available for SMBs were too expensive for the features they had, which led them to build a custom-made solution in-house.

With over 400 sign-ups from across 25 countries so far, the startup plans to grow its user base by offering its core features, such as billing and inventory features, for free  

“We saw the POS market and realised there’s a huge gap between what people use, and the real potential of POS,” Saravanakumar says. “The data that is generated in a retail store is never captured. For example, if you go to a grocery store, almost 95% of the stores don’t know anything about what you buy, say on a weekly basis,” he adds.

The founders became silent partners in the online cake shop, and dived headlong into their next venture. Instead of a niche tool, they decided that a B2B SaaS product that had the potential to acquire a hundred paying customers would make them cash flow positive.

Formerly based out of Indiranagar, Bangalore, the team found the costs of living in Coimbatore to be lower by 50-60%. Other cost-saving measures included availing of free AWS credits offered to PSG-STEP startups, using free plans offered by other cloud-based tools, and running their startup out of the university-run incubator.

Instead of a niche tool, they decided that a B2B SaaS product that had the potential to acquire a hundred paying customers would make them cash flow positive  

“They are very strong in technology challenges. Wherever they go for hackathon competitions, they win, because of the speed at which they work,” says K Suresh Kumar, general manager at the PSG-STEP incubator. PSG has three incubators and supports 35 startups that are working out of its 30,000 square feet facility. Startups pay a minimal Rs. 2,000 per month per seat, which includes furniture, networking, UPS and air-conditioning.

According to a Google Accel report published in 2016, India’s SaaS ecosystem will likely grow to be a $10 billion revenue industry by 2025, ie 8% of Global SMB SaaS. Cost advantages in engineering, sales, onboarding and support will allow Indian SaaS firms to aggressively enter and scale the SMB market, the report states.

It remains to be seen if SlickPOS scales to a true SaaS company, or if its revenue relegates it to the micro-SaaS domain (companies with an ARR of $1000-$300,000).


Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and Vijay Shekhar Sharma among its investors. Accel Partners is an early investor in Flipkart. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. None of FactorDaily’s investors have any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.