Three Entrepreneurs Started Zarnik and Turned It into a One-Of-Its-Kind Hospitality Startup in Kerala
India has a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products that has earned it the 15th position in the world in terms of international tourism receipts. There has been an increasing interest to develop the tourism industry. The accommodation facilities for tourists in India range from a simple homestay that provides local home-cooked food, to resorts and five-star hotel groups. These take extreme care in maintaining the Indian feel but provide a true international experience to the people who visit India. Therefore, it is very important that these hotels are provided with necessary items in terms of toiletries, clean linen, etc. on a timely basis. Keeping this in mind, three friends from Kochi in 2014 started Zarnik Hotel Supplies.
Azhar Umar, Prashobh Kumar and Rahul Jayan are the entrepreneurs behind the initiative. Two years of research, market study and small operations gave them the courage to take their ideas and knowledge from a 200-sq.ft. office to start building India’s first technology-enabled hotel supplies company, which is a business-to-business commercial distributor of operating supplies for hotels, restaurants, and catering industries.
Explaining the concept behind Zarnik, Prashobh, co-founder and director of business development, says, “The biggest struggle a hotelier faces is coordinating with multiple vendors while creating the perfect guest experience. This is where our organization comes as a help and becomes a single-source vendor for luxury hotels across India. From guest amenity kits to luxury toiletries, slippers and linens, we are a one-stop shop for the hospitality business. Zarnik will be backed by the first-of-its-kind B2B online ordering system, best-in-its-class Enterprise Resource Planning, fulfilment centres and a well-coordinated delivery network that will cover more than 19,000 locations. All this is dedicated to cater to the hospitality industry.”
The company has already set up a warehouse in Kochi as Kerala is rated in the top five tourist destinations in India and, therefore, is a crucial market. According to them, Kerala has approximately 1,800 small and big hotels and accommodation establishments, which require the immediate attention of companies like Zarnik. Moreover, hotels at tourist destinations that are detached from cities – like Munnar, Thekkady, Ooty, Coorg, Manali, Srinagar, Shimla, etc. are the ones that are really in need of service and assistance. The company primarily targets to enable
serviceability to such locations. To make this possible, team Zarnik has partnered with more than one logistics service provider.
Prashobh says that evaluating companies based on their material handling quality and procedures, transit time, traceability, quality of trucks, etc. at different regions is a very challenging yet a very important task as it directly
affects the perception of service quality offered by a budding company like Zarnik.
“Once this is complete, we will have deliverability to locations that even Amazon and Flipkart are unable to reach,” he added.
The team also has plans to launch an e-procurement app that will enable small restaurant owners to order supplies from their mobile phones and deliver right at their doorsteps. Azhar, the founder and MD of Zarnik, assures that their company is not about “money first” and they are very passionate about helping hoteliers reduce their cost by guiding them to find the right products and advise them on optimum and efficient usage.
“Once a hotel signs up with Zarnik, our goal is not to increase the volume of the product the hotel procures every month, but to show them how they are able to reduce the consumption and cost of a particular product within a time frame. Helping hoteliers reduce their cost will be a part of the culture we want the employees we recruit to imbibe,” he added.
The company was started by a humble capital that the three friends pooled in. Despite the small start, the company is running successfully and is turning out to be a boon for multiple institutions. Zarnik delivers to multiple branches of the same hotel anywhere in the country with just one contract, one price, one order, and one invoice.
Their success has also enabled them to set up the first fulfillment center in Bengaluru, which will cater to Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Goa. The setup is expected to be completed by March, 2017.
Rahul, Co-Founder and Director of Operations, is of the opinion that this will ease the procurement of products and enhance timely delivery, which will in turn boost finance management.
“We hope that GST will be enabled as soon as possible because this will make our inter-State purchase and delivery easier,” he said.
They attribute their growing popularity in the industry to the present market that has been spoiled by vendors with vague delivery commitments, poor product handling, and packaging. Azhar, who has a five-year experience in the hospitality industry, is very keen on providing transparent services to the clients with proper pricing, facility to track orders online, e-invoicing, and other important services.
Zarnik is also partnering with NGOs to implement a nation-wide soap collection programme, through which the hotels collect gently used soap bars from check-out guest rooms and then send them to NGOs, which then sanitize the soaps. The NGOs then distribute these recycled soaps for free to the people today who can’t afford them. JW Marriott, The Four Seasons, Taj, and Novotel are already a part of similar programmes.
Zarnik has also come up with a linen buyback programme through which discarded linen is collected from hotels and is shredded to make fiber for recycled linen or articles like recycled tote bags.
The company that started with 20 odd products has grown to include more than 300 products by building a network of quality hotel supply manufacturers. Zarnik now works with some of the finest hotels in India, upholding their motto of showing commitment in helping hoteliers enhance guest experience.