A Believer In Mission I'm-Possible

Amrit Acharya, co-founder and CEO Zetwerk, has led the transformation of the company across various domains

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He is a risk taker, a good listener and a believer in achieving the impossible. Meet Amrit Acharya, the co-founder and CEO of Zetwerk. Launched in May 2018,  Acharya defines Zetwerk as a managed marketplace for manufacturing. As the CEO, Acharya has led the transformation of the company across various domains. 

Zetwerk

Pre COVID-19, 100 per cent of Zetwerk’s revenue came from India and it’s Industrial sectors. As the country went into a lockdown, in April 2020, the business revenue of the company dropped by 90 per cent. Recouping from the losses was the biggest challenge. Under his leadership, within 1.5 years the business revenues are up by six times from pre-pandemic levels. On a full-year basis, Zetwerk’s revenue grew from INR 320 crore in FY20 to INR 950 crore in FY21, and it is expected to grow at least four times this year. 

“Over the last 1.5 years, we have diversified the business mix from 100 per cent industrials to 25 per cent consumer/75 per cent industrials. Within consumer, we have customers across apparel, retail and consumer electronics. Also, we diversified the business from 100 per cent India to 85 per cent India/15 per cent international. Today, we have 100-plus customers outside India.  We transformed the business to EBITDA positive as of July 2021 and cash flow positive,” says Acharya, marking this as the most defining time of his professional journey. 

After hitting the lowest in April, the company returned to its pre-COVID-19 volumes by September 2020. The game-changer was entering a new market segment: healthcare products manufacturing. What came next was a bold move from the CEO. “In October 2020, we made the bold move to shut down healthcare, a business that was contributing 25 per cent of our revenues at that point and had helped us to recover from pre-COVID-19 levels! While healthcare was a great short-term solution made possible due to the unique market context of the pandemic, we felt that healthcare products are not a category we want to operate in, in the long term. It was a tough decision at the moment but the right one in hindsight. Today, we have scaled the business to 6 times of pre-COVID-19  levels and five times since we shut down healthcare,” he says, adding that since 2018, the year-on-year revenue has increased  from INR 16.45 crore in 2018-19 to INR 949 crore in FY21.

Within a short span of three years, Zetwerk has made it to the Unicorn club. Giving an insight into his evolving role as a CEO, he says, “Communication is the most critical job of a CEO. I make myself constantly available. As the company scales, I find myself less worried about whether we will meet our quarterly targets but whether we will retain our company culture at 5-10 times the size.” 

What he sees as a challenge is to find more like-minded folks who could take Zetwerk to the next level. “Attracting the right talent to the company will be my focus area in the future.”

He believes in building conviction among his colleagues and empowers them to run their show in a decentralized manner coupled with regular reviews and directions. He encourages people to take risks, try new things, and provides the safety net needed to make mistakes. He also recognizes the importance of artists. “A business needs a combination of artists and scientists. Creating a company where both such archetypes can thrive is very important.” 

Since April 2020, Zetwerk’s headcount has grown from 200 to more than 500 today. Talking about managing a remote team during work-from-home, he says, “Half of our existence has been during the lockdown, during which we have added more colleagues. For a marketplace business, which has a physical footprint, this was not easy at all. Our culture of high ownership, high transparency, and decentralized decision making helped us achieve this. Today, we operate a hybrid model where Zetwerk colleagues have complete flexibility on whether they want to work from the office or home. This has helped us attract more talented colleagues throughout India, not just from Bangalore where we are headquartered.”

As a marketplace business, Zetwerk has built a lot of software that can help with making transactions easier. “Over time, we have realized that our software is valuable to us and various other customers to drive their digital transformation. This is how Zetwerk’s SaaS offering was born, and today we have our product live with multiple customers in India and abroad.”

The company currently works with several large-scale Indian and International enterprises spread across categories like consumer electronics, apparel, defense, aerospace, infrastructure, and others. Their clients range from large Indian multinational companies to globally recognized Fortune 500 companies. “We have recently set up our office in the US and cater to 50 clients across North America. Over 80 per cent of our invoicing revenues come from repeat and regular customers.”

 On a global footprint, the company has ventured successfully into regions like the Middle East, southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. “We will continue to double down on our international business. In addition, for the existing companies, we are evaluating some mergers & acquisitions, which will help us cater to the needs of our customers more effectively,” he says.