An online gateway to the Indian marketplace

The Economic Times,

Dinesh Net AffectWHEN DINESH Agarwal was in the US six years ago, a cousin back in India asked him to get all the information he could on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He tried hard telephoning but got little information. As a sort of last desperate move, he turned to the Internet which was still in the growing stage. And with a click, he had a screenful and more of information his cousin needed! That was perhaps the germ from which Agarwal’s Intermesh Systems was born. Now, at 30, Agarwal runs an Internet company that boasts a sales turnover of Rs 70 lakh a year. “We are targeting Rs 2.5 crores in the current financial year,” he says as a matter-of-factly.

What’s unique about Intermesh Systems is its database of 60,000 companies. ” That gave us a headstart,” he says. And tying up with ASSOCHAMAgarwal launched a full-fledged directory service at IndiaMART.com, which made it the gateway to the Indian marketplace. With 400 product categories online, foreign buyers and suppliers found they had a lot of options and could ask for competitive bids from several different suppliers of the same goods. The site gets 3 lakh hits per day.

The idea that made all the difference, according to Agarwal, was that of ‘free query forwarding ‘. Explains Agarwal: “Abroad you have free listing services, but you need a PC and Internet connection for that. Here, we printed forms to be filled out by hand and sent to us and we got a tremendous listing because of the free service.”

IndiaMART.com has six industry specific vertical portals. These include travel, handicraft, apparel, finance, shopping and auto.indiamart.com.

About its travel business directory, Agarwal says: “It is the single largest website on travel with over 80 per cent of India’s travel and tour operators and hotels on the site.” He claims 40,000 hits per day – 80 per cent from them from abroad. Another activity which Intermesh focuses is to promote web-sites on search engines. It creates and maintains web-sites of clients, including Nirula’s, the MTNL’s site Bharat Online. “Website promotions on search engines have always been a strong point with us, says Agarwal.

Coming from a trader-businessman family, Agarwal does not feel he’s making enough money yet. So far, we’ve been flowing at the forefront of the river, he says. Now challenge is to stay at the forefront. And make some money.