Apart from the Chinese, Indians buy more gold than any other global community. We believe in investing in gold due to its ease of buying and selling. Considered a symbol of security, this yellow metal also brings along good returns most of the time. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that investing in gold has become traditional in many Indian families, irrespective of the region, and the culture seems to be here to stay.
There are plenty of options for people to buy gold. However, their options seem to be limited when on a lookout to sell the same in their time of need.
Seeing the gap and the huge opportunity in this market, Rahul Joseph founded White Gold in 2017.
In an interaction with SMBStory, he says,
“Gold buying as a concept was novel to the Indian market; previously people used to exchange old gold for a piece of new jewellery or pawn it off to the goldsmith for a reduced value. We are the pioneers that set up an extensive network of branches to do this in an organised manner.”
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory: What did you do before founding White Gold and how did you start the business?
Rahul Joseph: I have always been a business-driven person, hailing from a family with rich experience in the real estate industry. I first started out by entering into the family business of real estate where I wanted to create something different, on my own strength and abilities — a project that would be a landmark for the years to come.
My first company White Projects Private Limited was set up in 2015. Today, it has completed and delivered a 40-acre gated community called “White County” in the heart of Electronic City, Bengaluru.
White Projects gave me both experience, confidence and most importantly, a taste of success. So, we looked to get in a business that would be a hedge to real estate. Hence, we ventured into the gold business with White Gold in 2017 with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 5 crore.
White Gold aims to be the largest organised gold buying and recycling company in the country. We aim to revolutionise this industry by bringing in advanced technology, transparency and process into India’s gold buying market. White gold uses technology to evaluate and then buy used gold jewellery, thus creating liquidity for those in need.
At White Gold, the gold bought is then processed and provided as a raw material to jewellery manufacturers. The advantage of this business over the imported finished gold is that the value addition is done within the country, thereby generating employment, saving foreign exchange, generating tax revenue for the government, and also reducing the import bill of the country.
White Gold has a network of over 50 branches in two states — Karnataka and Kerala, and a team strength of over 100 employees. The company clocked Rs 83 crore turnover this financial year and is on track to take it over Rs 100 crore this financial year.
SMBS: What is the market size of your sector?
RJ: Gold has an immense foothold in Indian markets, its growth over the past few decades is remarkable. Even though India is the second-largest consumer of this precious yellow metal, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s consumption. However, we are not able to produce it locally from the mines or utilise the 25,000 tons of gold accumulated in the Indian household. 85 percent of the gold supply in India is primarily met through imports, less than one per cent coming from local mining and about 10 percent from recycling.
Recycling of gold is a great initiative and is very crucial to India’s gold supply chain. Gold buying is the highest provider of used gold to the recycling industry, accounting for 90 to 95 percent. This segment is highly unorganized and probably the organized market share is around 10 percent or even less.
SMBS: What is the impact of your business on your customers and what challenges do you face?
RJ: Every customer that comes into our branches is typically doing so because they have a need. Our service of buying gold has been able to successfully fill a gap in the market that existed before. Everyone may have gold but you still need an option or a place to liquidate it in your time of need. That’s where White Gold steps in. We have been able to help over a lakh people in their time of need.
Also by being a technology-driven company, we have tried our best to introduce market-leading practices in testing and valuation. Thus, creating a new benchmark for the industry itself and slowly revolutionising the way things work in gold buying.
As I mentioned earlier, gold buying is a huge and predominantly unorganised market. This has, over the years, created a stigma towards the industry in general. A perception exists that gold buying companies are fraudulent and they provide less money for what the gold is worth. We at White Gold, believe that technology, transparency, and process is the best way to change this perception and have strived towards it over the last three years.
SMBS: How are you using digital technologies in your business journey?
RJ: We have a qualified team of professionals running the backend from our head office. The team comprises of experts in each field to ensure smooth functioning of the same. We have strict processes put in place so as to reduce the risk and create efficiency in all areas.
The customers’ gold is tested by the best gold spectrometers so they get an exact breakdown of the gold and alloys present in their jewellery down to the milligram. The data is then transferred to our Head Office and stored safely so it can never be tampered with or altered at any cost. All our customer data entry is done seamlessly on a tab using our own proprietary software. Then, finally, the customer will receive his payment digitally so as to avoid any confusion at all.
This entire process can be completed in a matter 30 minutes so the customer can carry on without much hassle. We try to eliminate the chance of human error so as to always provide the best to the customer.
Our entire marketing has always been digitally driven. Even though almost all of the competitors choose to use more traditional means of marketing, we have always been digital-focused from day one. In fact, over 80 percent of our marketing spends have always been digital and it has helped keep costs low and volumes high.
We have also created a tool on our website to calculate/estimate the value of the gold the customer wants to sell. They can easily fill in the details and use the tool to help them determine the expected value of their gold.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
RJ: The plan is to be the largest organised gold buyer across India with at least 50 branches in each state. We will expand our network of branches to 100 by this year and expand into one new state every year.
The goal in the next five years is to have a network of 500 branches buying over 6,000 kg of gold per annum. Over the course, we will also aim to get an NBFC license and start giving gold loans. This will allow us to cater to the entire spectrum of needs our customers may have.
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