He had an option to join his family-run petroleum business, but his entrepreneurial instincts always drove him to start something of his own, and thus IndiaMART.com came into existence. Using the internet skills he was exposed to in the early-90s for 5 years at companies like CDOT Alcatel Research Centre and HCL America, Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, IndiaMART.com initially started creating websites for the exporters in the mid-90s when the IT boom was shaping up pretty fast. Talking about the rationale behind the business idea he recalls, “Not many of the exporters had their sites then. But they needed to have it soon as the developed part of the world was moving ahead at a faster rate with internet. This opened a completely new window of opportunity for us.”
Keeping in mind the fact that the company could be reduced to just another face in the crowd sans differentiation, the company developed its website into a B2B marketplace which, over the past years, has proved to be the competitive edge for the company in the industry. But then, as Agarwal points out, the venture could not have been as successful as it is today without a strong support from his family as those were the days when thousands of dot com ventures started off with a lot of buzz, but fizzled out soon as well. Be it the initial capital requirements or the entrepreneurial expertise, he humbly agrees that family backing has played a huge role in making IndiaMART a success story.
The strategy of the company has been very clear since the beginning – to offer a bouquet of services to its consumers instead of a plain vanilla trade portal. And it has been working well so far. In all these years, IndiaMART has been a very aggressive advertiser on the web. It’s only in the recent times that the company has started diverting a part of its marketing spend to radio campaigns. “There was a need to touch base with the target group on a one-to-one basis and we found that radio is a well-suited medium for the same as its usage is really high in the metros,” explains Agarwal. But then, he adds quickly, the metros aren’t the only regions where the company is focussing, because they believe that the next big leap of growth for the company will come from Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
In the mean time, while Agarwal is confident that the company will go past the Rs.100 crore turnover mark by the end of the current fiscal registering a 50% growth, investors too have shown interest in the company. Last year, Intel Capital, the global investment arm of Intel Corporation, picked up about 15% stake in the company. With plans to push the growth accelerator, the company is now set to shift its base to NCR region and is hoping to inaugurate its new multi-facility office on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway to accommodate over 2000 employees. Agarwal informs enthusiastically, “The new office will be the most important purchase for us this festive season.”
Professional life apart, Dinesh is quite excited about festivals in his personal life as well. As per him, more than the rituals, sweets, and fun, the family closeness that we get to see and feel during these festivals is actually invaluable. For the fact that he lives in a joint family, such festivals become all the more important for him. Talking about his wife and kids, Agarwal, who feels bad that he is failing to give them enough time, says, “The surprise outings that I have with my family make up for my busy schedule.” He recalls his recent visit to the CWG opening ceremony at midnight as a case in the point. Moreover, past family holidays to places like New Zealand, Gujrat and Singapore are very close to his heart and he makes it a point to go for a long break at least once or twice a year with his family.
Agarwal is a dreamer and is inspired by the likes of Ratan Tata and Captain Gopinath. Going into the future, he also dreams to follow these visionaries and revolutionise the industry he is operating in.