The Economic Times,
Started with an objective of managing online media for the benefit of businesses, Indiamart Intermesh Ltd. (IIL) has always seen Internet as a business facilitator rather than a technology phenomenon . In fact, the company, which considers itself to be a business promotion agency focussing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), is one of the two dotcom companies in the B2B model that not only survived the dotcom bust but also is raking in the profits. The other company is other than tradeindia .com, which is half the size of Indiamart. “Our success mantra for surviving the dotcom bust is that we relied more on direct sales rather than doing milliondollar advertising campaigns . Nor did we have any investor putting in millions in our company,” says Brijesh Agrawal, COO, Indiamart. In fact, what explains the company’s notable presence in India is that when most of the dotcoms got carried away in the advertising frenzy Indiamart’s relied more on direct marketing; its sales team went knocking on doors of traders convincing hem to put up catalogues on their portal. “What a B2B portal needs is a strong buyer-seller base and word of mouth marketing. How we’ve managed to so is through direct sales, through word of mouth promotion and by participating in international trade shows,” Agrawal says.
With 3,50,000 companies actively registered with them, Indiamart plans to launch an international platform in May 2007. “It’s a big initiative to market ourselves across the world. It will be a challenge to build up a network of international traders,” says Agrawal. Besides, the company also plans to launch two trade publications by August this year. “For a B2B portal it’s important to educate suppliers on the benefits of E-commerce . Hence our initiative to launch trade magazines so that we can educate sellers of the benefits of E-commerce as well as keep them abreast of the latest trends in the field,” says Agrawal.
I n d i a m a r t started operations in 1996 primarily as a website development and designing company . Started by Dinesh and B r i j e s h Agrawal, the initial idea was to make it a website designing and hosting agency, and serve Indian businesses by designing and implementing their websites. But soon they realised that that they couldn’t sustain themselves as a simple website design and development agency. To generate sales they decided to reposition their company in a way that would help their clients generate business. They thus repositioned their company as a business promotion entity which would be using the power of the Internet and Internet technology to generate more business for their customers; they would also design and implement the website for their clients. In the process the company would be offering a packaged sales generation solution. “By giving a dual advantage to our customers we created a niche which has kept us alive,” comments Agrawal.
Today, the company, which had a Rs 18.3-crore turnover in 2005-06 and is expecting to clock in Rs 28 crore turnover for this fiscal, provides information , services and solutions for commerce to businesses, making Internet technology work for their business. It runs an online directory, trade auction, tendernotification related services and also provides design, development and promotion services. “We work on a business model where we allow sellers from India and buyers from all over the world to business. We just provide a platform and are not an agent,” says Agrawal. The company has 24 offices across India, and generates revenue through the annual fee from the supplier and other additional services offered to them.