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Mar 26, 2012, 12.16 PM | Source: CNBC-TV18

The story of Kwench and Just Books!

Now, Oprah Winfrey got America to read again. And that’s what Sundar Nookala, Prashant John, Krishnan Madhabushi, Nitesh Damania and Sundar Rajan are hoping to do. They have built their businesses around books. Here is the story of Kwench and Just Books.

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The story of Kwench and Just Books!

Now, Oprah Winfrey got America to read again. And that’s what Sundar Nookala, Prashant John, Krishnan Madhabushi, Nitesh Damania and Sundar Rajan are hoping to do. They have built their businesses around books. Here is the story of Kwench and Just Books.

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The story of Kwench and Just Books!
Now, Oprah Winfrey got America to read again. And that’s what Sundar Nookala, Prashant John, Krishnan Madhabushi, Nitesh Damania and Sundar Rajan are hoping to do. They have built their businesses around books. Here is the story of Kwench and Just Books.

In the age of downloadable books and e-readers, there are still those who prefer the real thing. Running a library may seem old school, but a few brave entrepreneurs have turned their love for books into a business.

A team of IIM Ahmadabad alumni Sundar Nookala, Prashant John, Krishnan Madhabushi and Nitesh Damania launched Kwench, a corporate library service in 2008. Offering a book bank of 20,000 titles, Kwench today has tied up with over 200 corporate clients. It has three warehouses in Delhi- the National Capital Region, Mumbai and Bangalore to cater to corporate audiences.

Prashant John, co-founder and executive director, Kwench says, “We extent the service to the entire employee base of the organisation. So, if an organization is interested in providing a library service to its employees or we find out and identify that the client has a need for this, we would approach and the entire employee base would get registered on Kwench. Following this, they would get access to our site. The entire cost is picked up by the organisation so that you have maximum reach and the employees can login to our site, order a book. And that book would get delivered to their office the next working day.”

Kwench has already received Rs 1 crore as seed funding from Indian Angels Network and has booked revenues of Rs 4 crore this year. Next up is taking the business plan India.

John says, “We are currently present in three major regions, the Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore. We also cater to other satellite cities like Pune and Chennai today with our own delivery systems. So, we have already put in place plans where we will be entering other cities. Cities like Vodhara, Ahmadabad and cities in south India that would be our target like Hyderabad for example. So, the entire set of organisations that are present in the cities form our target company list.”

John further says, “We have the IT companies in Hyderabad, we have quite a few of the large organisations based out of Gujarat, these all are our targets going forward in the immediate future. So, in terms of growth we would expect a ten times rise in user base over the next two years and a corresponding increase in the revenues.”

While Kwench caters to corporate clients, our next entrepreneur Sundar Rajan decided to give the classic neighborhood library a sleek makeover. His ventured Just Books allows users to rent, read and return books across a chain of stores. Sundar today has 30 Just Book stores across four cities in India and has topped up over 500,000 titles.

Starting up with Rs 50 lakh in 2008, Sundar has incubated his business in IIM Bangalore. In three years, Just Books has already managed revenues of Rs 4 crore.

Rajan, MD, Just Books says, “We try to bring in efficiency into the system by using lot of technology. All our books are RFID enabled. So, they could work with some self service machines and they become very gadget friendly from a processing perspective. So, we have customers who walk in, we have self service machines at all over libraries that you can search for a book that you are looking for and the system will tell you where the book is. You can just pick up the book and issue it by themselves, take it home, come back and return it by themselves.”

Rajan further says, “All the members get an RFID enabled membership card that they can use at any of our libraries. What this has done to us is that the increase in volume that we foresee, the increase in number of members at a given branch and a dollar branched is the operating cost or the cost of providing the service, handling all the customers, we are able to keep that very low. And that is largely because of the self service engagements that we create in our libraries.”

Just Books is looking to add new chapters to its venture. Expanding its network of libraries to more cities in works plans to create a hybrid web integrated model. With plans to launch B-to-B operations, Sundar hopes to create a book bank of one million books by the end of the year.

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The story of Kwench and Just Books!

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