Dinesh Agarwal is the founder and CEO of IndiaMART.com, India’s largest online B2B marketplace for small and medium enterprises. Dinesh founded the company in 1996 and since then has steered it to become world’s second largest B2B marketplace today.
Prior to taking a plunge into entrepreneurship, this Computer Engineer from HBTI, Kanpur worked with industry leaders such as HCL Technologies (America), Center for Development of Telematics (C-Dot) and CMC Limited before returning to India. His rich experience spans over 20 years in the field of Internet, Networking & Systems Development and Consulting.
Here we have an account from Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd.
With which job role/ position did you start your career?
My first job was at CMC limited.
When did you join your present organisation?
In the 27 years of my career, I have held many roles but my favourite has always been my role at IndiaMART. IndiaMART was launched in 1999 and as the founder of India’s largest online marketplace, I got this opportunity to empower and enable businesses in the country and to make doing business easy for them.
What kind of leadership style do you follow in your organisation?
I would want to call myself a leader by example, and someone who believes in participative leadership.
How are you contributing to the growth of your employees/team?
One thing I have learned from Nachiket Mor is never to wait for the right time or opportunity but to create one because you will never have a perfect time with all the resources. He taught me to convert average into the best and have a crystal-clear thought process and foresightedness, qualities every leader must-have.
Name one person who had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Share that one critical decision that you made as the leader of your organisation?
In the early 2000s China began to dominate the international trade which directly impacted the Indian exports and Indian domestic consumption started to grow, I decided to pivot our focus from international business to domestic markets. With $10 million in funding from Intel capital, I re-launched IndiaMART as a domestic B2B marketplace in 2008, keeping its mission intact to “make doing business easy”.
When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
There are several things that I look for in candidates before I get them on board. One basic prerequisite is stability. Stability tells a lot about a person while ensuring that the candidate has experienced the ups and downs in the organisation throughout his stay there from which the person has garnered a lot of experience which will be useful at IndiaMART. Besides stability, the capability to perform a variety of tasks is something that I look for in a candidate.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Leaders should always be farsighted and should think about the community at large. I believe that everyone comes in with their unique perspective in doing something, and we should always look for fresh concepts and newer ways of doing things. If this uniqueness is not accentuated, mapped and celebrated well, then it will go in waste. Everyone should know their strengths and build on it further to become an expert in their domain.
What is one lasting impact that you hope to leave on your present company?
I started with a seed capital of Rs.40.000 more than 20 years back with the hope of unveiling the power of the internet and in using it to make doing business easy. In the due course, IndiaMART has witnessed several ups and downs, but we were able to survive it all because of the strong team that we had. We understood that a strong team is the real strength that helps you succeed.
What are you doing to grow and develop as a leader continuously?
A very important lesson that he had given me was to ‘first do it yourself’, and I try to follow this in every step of my life, this helps me grow as an individual and as a leader. If there is something that I can’t do, then I should not expect my team to do it or to know it.
What advice would you give to the new-age leaders?
I strongly believe that “Everyone is born with at least 20% of luck. So if you try only once, the chance of success is minimal. But if you try it five times, your chance of succeeding becomes 100%.” My failures have never stopped me from trying and experimenting further, and this is exactly how IndiaMART today stands as the largest online B2B marketplace in India.