Turning the spotlight on SMEs

The Franchising World,

A recent survey conducted by a market research agency, brings out some starting facts. Among the 1006 salaried individuals interviewed across the length and breadth of the country 69% respondents dream of running their own enterprise. 51% already have a business idea. 91% of respondents with a business idea said that given the requisite funding and an oppurtunity to nurture their idea with the mentor they would turn an entretrenuer.This revelation leaves one with little doubt that India, the world’s youngesty democracy is on the cusp of revolution, ‘Entrepreneurship.’ Across the world, small businesses are the foundation for free and competitive enterprise and are the support pillars of national economies. These small but powerful entities will build our country’s future and enable India to compete in today’s global marketplace. Having said that, I find it quite ironical, why small businesses are often relegated to small slots of coverege by the media. This Special Issue of The Franchising World is inspired by the urgency to turn the spotlight on those small guys who have made it big or are promising to make it big. On an editor’s front it has been a daunting task to screen over 5000 profiles, each competiting against the other on various grounds. All entries were thoroughly scrutinized and adjudged on various parameters ranging from the strength of the business model; leadership of the organization; level of growth achieved since inception; potential of the technology or product innovation and competitive edge in the industry. As a rule of thumb, we have tried to make the
“Top 100” list inclusive of all industry sectors and conclude on companies at different levels of growth. Thus we have shortlisted companies who have achieved revenues to the tune of 100 crore and also those who are far behind this benchmark, yet promise meteoric growth in the near future. We have combed out those who were incepted a few years back and have achieved furious growth over a short span of time. At the same time we have those who have been growing consistently through good and turbulent times and have created a brand presence in their own space. Coming up with the prestigious Top 100 list has been an experience entailing tremendous learning and discovery. The exhaustive mix of different genres of entrepreneurship covers all needs and nuances of our existence which entrepreneurs touch upon. Thus we have on board Jagdeep Chhabra of Chhabra 555, a legendry ethnic wear retailer with the oldest store located in the lanes of Chandni Chowk, Delhi. The retailer symobises an excellent amalgamation of most traditional product ranges sold via most modern retail practices. Our cover page is adorned by Prakash Gugutia, Founder of Ferns & Petals, the 100 crore brand which is almost ubiquitous, nationally and internationally. Looking back by 10 years, very few of us could foresee how ‘flowers’ could lay the foundation for such a huge business empire. Shifting focus to a fundamentally different industry, property dealership, names like Sam Chopra stand out with a string edge. At the helm of Remax India, the entrepreneur has brought global expertise to the unorganized property brokerage sector in the country. Similarly, IndiaMART has made itself a household name as a B2B marketplace for SMEs.The Top 100 Special Issue in its entirety is dedicated to provide the much deserved recognition to the most deserving companies and felicitate them for their sheer knack for entrepreneurship, despite facing all the odds peculiar to the Indian business landscape. This initiative from Franchise India, however marks the begining of a much bigger initiative towards promoting the big phenomenon that small businesses are ushering in. We are pretty much into the throes of this revolutionary eco-system shaping up. There is lot more to come from us.

‘Top 100 Small Businesses of the Year 2010’ by the Franchising World is inclusive of a wide spectrum of companies at different levels of growth as reflected in the turnover etails and other information made public by a majority of companies. The ventures span diverse industry sectors, ranging from those with turnover in a few lacs and also those with revenues in the multiples of crores (under 100 crores). Over 5000 entries were screened on various parameters, including strength of the business model; leadership of the organization; level of growth achieved since inception; potential of the technology or product innovation and competitive edge in the industry. The shortlisted companies include those who were incepted a few years back and have achieved furious growth over a short span of time. Additionally, we have zeroed in on those which have scaled consistent growth through good and turbulent times and have created an enviable brand presence in their own space.

Coming up with the prestigious Top 100 list has been an experience entailing tremendous learning and discovery. The exhaustive mix of different genres of entrepreneurship covers all needs and nuances of our existence which entrepreneurs touch upon.

IndiaMART InterMESH B2B LEADERS

IndiaMART InterMESH is a B2B marketplace which introduced the concept of free-listing and query forwarding through online platform to bring SME businesses from across the country under one roof

Franchise india (FI): What is your product offering and key differentiators?
Dinesh Agarwal (DA): IndiaMART.com is India’s largest online B2B marketplace connecting global byers with suppliers through business directories, online product catalogs, buy-sell offers, industry specific marketplaces, printed media and trade shows participation. IndiaMART.com offers an extensive range of value-added products and services to its 10,00,000 registered members and nearly 5 million global buyers across various industries and verticals. IndiaMART.com is a platform where suppliers, mostly SMEs, register themselves and do business transactions through the business leads generated by IndiaMART.com .

FI: What was your prior occupation and what made you consider entrepreneurship?
DA:Prior to establishing IndiaMART, I was employed with HCL America Inc. as a network consultant. But, I always felt the need to base myself in India and at the same time offer something unique to the country. Largely catering to the Indian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), my vision was to empower them with the utility of internet as SMEs, then, were not exposed to the business benefits of the internet.

FI: How did you fund your business?
DA:Belonging to a traditional business family, I had an inclination to set up my own business. I started with a capital of Rs. 40,000 and one assembled computer.

FI: How was the experience of hiring your first employee and building a team?
DA:It was extremely difficult to get people on board because of the niche idea at that time and nobody wanted to join a one-man army. The valuable support of family members, friends and extended relations gave tremendous boost to turn the dream into a reality. As the company grew, people showed more and more inclination to be a part of our company.

FI: What are the key marketing and brand building strategies for your business?
DA: With the aim to present SMEs in all the channels of B2B matchmaking, we have made conscious efforts towards providing the best in online B2B marketplace. This has been possible because of our sound and aggressive marketing strategy. For years now, we have planned nationwide awareness campaign. This campaign includes advertising through print, TV, Radio, internet and events such as conferences and seminars.

FI: What is your growth plan for the next three years?
DA:We want to become a complete B2B business media company in India in the next three years. To achieve this, we will have to diversify into telephone and WAP (mobile web). We have already started with our own print version. Similarly, we have started partnering with trade fairs to make them an IndiaMART show and forayed into international trade events as well. We promote these shows heavily through our website.

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