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.
IndiaMART is a remarkable story in Indian ecommerce. The company clocked Rs 533 crore in profitable revenue in fiscal year 2019—and listed publicly on the stock-markets in June 2019. This is rare for internet companies in India. Throughout the IndiaMART journey, CEO and managing director Dinesh Agarwal has ensured the focus remains on B2B ecommerce. He wanted to make the internet simple for the growing community of MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises). Today, more than 5.5 million MSMEs are registered on the IndiaMART platform, which lists 63 million products. To find out how it innovates for the B2B economy, Forbes India met Dinesh Agarwal. Edited excerpts:
We serve all kinds of businesses—small, medium or large businesses; Indian as well as international businesses. Today we have about 5.7 million suppliers and about 93 million buyers registered on IndiaMart. We do more than 40 million business matchmakings every month.
It is where a buyer discovers a supplier, and a supplier discovers a buyer for a particular product or a service.
We started in 1996—it was the early days when there were hardly any computers or internet in India. However, I had come from the US where both were already popular. Understanding that exports were very important for the Indian economy, we realised that there for a price opacity and limited information about Indian products for the American importer. We started with that opportunity. Back then, we got online enquiries from the US and every night, we printed them, faxed them overnight and then sent them by post the next day. This went on for five years.
The internet really only took off when the dot com boom happened in 1999-2000. The focus shifted to computers, e-mail, content-building, more suppliers, and more exporters online. From 2001-2006, that was the second era.
Around 2007-08, Indian exports had started to flatten out. The mobile feature phone became very popular. We had to completely reinvent ourselves from being a computer- and email-based platform to more of a voice-based and SMS-based platform.
Finally, the smartphone regime has now transformed the Internet in a very different way. In 2010, we also thought for the first time that we want to completely pivot from an export-oriented business to a domestic B2B business. That is when, I think, we started growing at a very rapid base—from $10 million revenue business, we are now a $80-$90 million revenue business. Today, there is a greater focus on technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Not only B2B marketplace. It is important for any consumer website service or business website service. You deploy technology for the users to use, not for the users to see the technology. So when you use IndiaMart, you would simply search for something and you will find it. There are many important things going on behind the scenes—the kind of data collection we have done, the behavioural affinity that we have found, the kind of keyword matchmaking, locational affinity, and computational power that goes behind that are very different.
You can search IndiaMart in nine different Indian languages. It converts into English on the backend, takes a voice input—all that has to be seamless for the user. While we are a technology company, users should see us as a functional company—not a technology company. My mantra is—let the user get his job done without being exposed to the jargons of technology or the technology hurdles.
There are about 400 people working in the product and technology teams. We have multiple set of databases spread across India, US, Europe and Singapore. Every product and service—all 63 million of them—can be translated into different languages. Those are the kinds of technologies we use. There are APIs (application programming interface) that help us do this.
Our earlier brand promise that “IndiaMart pe kaam, yahin banta hain”, and the one now, “IndiaMart pe kaam bada aasaan hain,” we continue to focus on how to make product-matchmaking easier for businesses. Our overall mission or vision is to make it easy for doing business in India.
We have been mostly a platform—a technology platform or a media-cum-technology platform. We provide you with content, matchmaking, prices and specification. We are across 100,000-plus categories in India. So from steel to truck, iron ore to steel components, everything you see comes under our hood. It is almost impossible for us to add value in logistics across categories. The B2B sector’s orders require a lot of customisation. It’s not about picking up an item from the shelf and delivering it home. So we decided it is best delivery and its terms and conditions are left to the buyer and supplier.
Order sizes vary. As I said, we have 100,000-plus categories. Order sizes vary across categories. On one side, we could have a simple a button, which with an order size of 1,000 could be worth Rs 1,000. On the other hand, we could have an Earth-moving equipment, with the order size of one, but worth Rs 50 lakh or Rs 5 crore. So it is very, very varied. Over time, I have seen more adoption happening both on the lowest and highest order-size items.
Earlier, we used data by way of traditional algorithmic matchmaking. But in the past couple of years, we find there are many use-cases for us to utilise machine learning and deploy artificial intelligence.
I’ll give you some examples. IndiaMart is a curated database of good businesses. A lot of tele-marketers use that to spam or sell their service. How to identify which call is spam, a sales call, or a genuine call? Earlier, listening to calls was almost impossible. Now there is a complete voice-to-text algorithm behind that, which automatically searches the patterns and identifies whether it is spam or not.
Similarly, there are suppliers like furniture-suppliers who say, “I can do all kinds of furniture–chair, sofa, table, and so on”. However, we know by his activity on the platform, he deals mostly in sofa-sets and dining tables. On his website, a hundred products are listed, but technology helps us discern which two products are his bread and butter. And on what products the supplier is more likely to convert, based on the market behaviour. If we use machine learning to gauge each supplier—their locational behaviour, price behaviour, quantity behaviour—we are able to do effective matchmaking on the buyer side.
We are a marketplace where a lot of people try and sell anything and everything. This could include banned substances. There could be banned items, which are not allowed in the marketplace. How do we check every product that goes through when even humans can’t identify them effectively? Every day, we upload 25,000 new product images on the platform. It is only AI and ML, which can sort them out—that a particular image is not right for the platform.
We have tried to harness video multiple times. In 2010-11, we used to hire special videographers to go to the suppliers’ office and shoot videos. It never took off. But in the last three years, especially after the Reliance Jio data revolution, videos have become quite a popular thing.
What has happened is, today we clock about 65 million visits every month, which is a lot of people coming from rural and remote parts of India. Around 33% of our traffic is from tier-three and –four cities, smaller tehsils, and villages of India. They prefer to watch videos in their language rather than in English or Hindi. In the past year, we have probably added more than 2 lakh videos—product videos and category videos that helps us. And in each of our categories, suppliers who were providing product photos and prices have started providing product videos. Each of those categories is becoming a destination in themselves.
Some of the new entrants in the BS1000 club are bucking the trend in more ways than one. In addition to robust results in a lacklustre environment, many are also investing in growth.
The people leading these companies are laying the road for future gains through both greenfield investments and acquisitions. Among them is Sanjay Sethi, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Chalet Hotels. After a stint outside the company, he re-joined the firm in early 2018 with the intent of taking it public. The idea was to fuel growth, reduce debt at the time and also create a currency which could be used for mergers and acquisitions.
Chalet, a group company of K Raheja Corp, successfully listed in February 2019. The company runs seven hotels in partnership with global brands such as Marriott, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton and Novotel. The 2,500-room hotel chain is on an expansion path. “Greenfield is the largest growth play for us. We’ve got three hotels under development totalling up to about 650-odd rooms under construction,” Sethi said.
The company also has a few non-hotel assets, such as retail and commercial spaces in its portfolio, which are co-located with the hotel assets and complement the hotel assets. “We’ve got a couple of office towers and retail products in the portfolio, and there are two more office towers under development,” he said.
Dinesh Chandra Agarwal, Managing Director and CEO IndiaMART InterMESHDinesh Chandra Agarwal, Managing Director and CEO IndiaMART InterMESH
In February 2020, Chalet took the inorganic route to buy Novotel, Pune, which Sethi says is a departure for the company, adding, “While organic growth has been the mainstay, all options for growth will be examined.”
Another new entrant, diagnostics chain Metropolis Healthcare, has depended on local partnerships to fund growth, both before and after it went public in the first half of 2019. Its initial public offer was shortly after financial markets had been in turmoil because of debt issues at lending major Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS). Investor sentiment was weak during the book-building process, recalled Ameera Shah, promoter and managing director of Metropolis. Everybody seemed to be in wait-and-watch mode, and there were calls to defer the issue by a year. The company decided to go ahead anyway.
“We, of course, decided to price the IPO at a discount to the price we would have got normally in a good market. But we thought that let’s leave money on the table for investors. It was a good decision that we made at the time, because investors very quickly were able to pocket good profits and that gave them more confidence to stay for the future,” said Shah.
From Sanjay Sethi to Ameera Shah, meet new entrants in BS1000 club
A key part of the growth has been through partnering with local laboratories. The idea, according to Shah, has been to seek synergies where the local partner can benefit from the company’s experience and the company can also learn from them in a way that ensures growth. One such partner was Desai Labs in Surat, with which it began an association 10 years ago, and acquired in 2007. It’s grown from a single lab, to having a significant presence with 16 per cent market share in the city, with revenue growing 10-15 times.
The focus on growth continues, though Shah admits that the macroeconomic situation has been challenging of late. She believes, however, that gains can continue. “We are in full investment mode. We continue to invest in new labs, new centres, and acquisitions,” she said.
Acquisitions found mention in the December 2019 results too, with the company announcing that it acquired four labs in the quarter, and was in the process of acquiring a 51 per cent stake in Shraddha Diagnostic Centre in Ahmedabad.
For Dinesh Chandra Agarwal, MD and CEO of IndiaMART InterMESH, partnering with and helping smaller businesses aided the company to grow and get listed. He recalled in his maiden annual report after going public that the company started with Rs 40,000 in seed capital. This has since grown to a company that has more than Rs 500 crore in annual revenues.
IndiaMART calls itself India’s largest online marketplace, where businesses can buy and sell products and services from each other. This online business-to-business (or ‘B2B’) marketplace has helped people like Faruck Mansuri, a small businessman in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, buy a cutting machine, a weighing machine and a feather cleaning machine to help in his meat business. Piyush Jain, who inherited a swimming pool business, now offers 450 customisable products. His turnover has grown 10-fold and his geographic reach has extended beyond Delhi, to a network with more than 500 dealers and distributors.
Ameera Shah, Managing Director Metropolis HealthcareAmeera Shah, Managing Director Metropolis Healthcare
IndiaMART has a large base of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and claims 5.5 million MSMEs listed on its platform, though it has lately also attracted large brands to its platform.
“We earn revenue primarily through the sale of subscription packages (available on a monthly, annual and multi-year basis) to suppliers, which offer a range of benefits, including the listing of their supplier storefronts on a priority basis, access to a lead management system, integrated access to third-party online payment gateways and access to request for quotes,” it said.
The route has worked well, as its revenues and profits have grown. It is also betting on innovation to reach out better to customers. Agarwal gives the example of how search is now possible in nine different Indian languages through voice commands on the platform. There have been other moves too, to attract its target customers. This includes investing in video and algorithmic matchmaking initiatives.
“Internet penetration among India’s MSMEs remains low, with 17 per cent of MSMEs using the internet for business purposes in 2017,” he said of the potential for growth, going ahead.
The company is making other investments too, to leverage the potential of smaller companies that are going digital.
IndiaMART InterMESH bought a 26 per cent stake in a mobile accounting software application in the first week of September. “We will continue to look for possible opportunities where we can make investments,” Agarwal said.
Another company which has been on a steady investment spree is Polycab India, which makes cables, wires, fans, lighting and other electrical equipment, and will invest Rs 300 crore of capex this year. The company has said that it has been investing a similar amount over the last five or six years. The company’s business has grown since then. So, relative to its business, the company has scaled back on expansion. However, it is in contrast to the rest of the private sector.
“A sharp decline in real fixed investment induced by a sluggish growth of real consumption has weighed down GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” noted the latest Economic Survey. It said that the contribution of industrial activities to the economy has fallen during 2009-14 and also during 2014-19. Manufacturing and construction segments have contributed to the slowdown.
Inder T Jaisinghani, Chairman and MD, Polycab IndiaInder T Jaisinghani, Chairman and MD, Polycab India
Polycab too has grown well in recent times, navigating the slowdown through reliance on markets outside India, too.
More growth lies ahead, believes Inder T Jaisinghani, chairman and managing director at Polycab India. “The increase in consumer spending, infrastructure growth, industrial investments, and the inevitable rise in nuclear, more affluent families will drive demand for innovative and premium products of the kind manufactured and sold by Polycab,” he said.
However, not all new entrants in the BS1000 have fared equally well. Some, like Sterling and Wilson Solar, had difficulty meeting debt obligations and their stock has been under pressure.
On the other hand, there is a big outlier — Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) — which has gone up six-fold in value since September 2019 from its IPO price, as investors have lapped up its shares.
A gardening enthusiast, environmentalist, or a caring father, on our quest to unveil Product Manager – Sandeep Rohilla’s passion for gardening, we discovered the various facets cushioned softly behind Sandeep’s tranquil personality.
Three years back, Sandeep began gardening by planting herbs and small plants in pots on his rooftop. Little did he know that along with the plants, his passion for gardening also grew with each passing day. Sandeep gives the credit for his love for gardening to his wife. He shares that she motivated him to start planting medicinal plants like Aloe Vera, Tulsi, etc. at home to naturally purify the air and create a healthy environment for their son – Mahir.
Today Sandeep maintains over a thousand planters and spends his morning hours basking in the glory of his little creation, irrespective of hot or cold weather. Every morning from 5 am to 7 am, Sandeep upkeeps his garden and meditates there to self-heal.
His wife also supports him in the daily gardening tasks like watering the plants and safeguarding them from monkeys. That brings us to an excellent tip from Sandeep; he grows a lot of cactus plants to restrict monkeys from destroying the terrace garden. Sandeep is an ardent fan of cactus and succulents as they do not require regular watering and belong to the sustainable future of gardening in metropolitans like the Delhi NCR, which are already marred by the water crisis.
He also loves growing roses of different varieties, besides seasonal flowering plants that infuse vibrant colors with each changing season. Sandeep also believes in organic farming and grows vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and a variety of herbs to reap fresh and organic produce.
As an amateur gardener, Sandeep had his share of challenges. He shares that due to lack of professional know-how, he would grow summer plants in winters, and vice-versa. He gained knowledge about plants, plant care, and nutrition via YouTube videos, books, blogs, and a thriving community of fellow gardening enthusiasts.
Sandeep launched his blog in 2019 and named it after his son. He shares his gardening exploits on Facebook, from where he got the attention of the Floriculture Society of Ghaziabad. He was approached by none other than the society’s president – Mrs. Rama Tyagi to join it and expand the impact he wants to make to the environment. Sandeep has organized, participated, and won several accolades in Flower Shows and competitions in 2019 and 2020.
In the district-level competition, Sandeep won a total of 17 prizes in two different categories, of which 7 were for the First position, another 7 for the second position, and 3 for the Third position for various parameters. He also won the First Prize in the individual gardener category and a 2nd runner up Overall at the District level.
Sandeep actively participates in the Green plantation drives in society parks organized by the municipal corporation of Ghaziabad.
Sandeep aims to reach out to a broader audience and plans to launch his YouTube channel for spreading the knowledge and gardening skills he’s acquired over the past three years. He also wants to hone his gardening skills further to participate in All-India level flowering competitions in the times to come.
There are three things that inspire Sandeep to nurture his garden, the first being his love and care for his son. With air pollution breaching safety levels and taking a toll on the health and immunity of children and adults alike, Sandeep feels that we must create a healthy environment around our dwellings, which is in our immediate control.
He also shares that gardening has helped him cope with stress and depression. Years back, he was suggested by his doctor to take up a hobby, and he inclined towards gardening. Ever since the size of his garden has expanded, and that of his medicine box has only shrunk. He has little to no dependency on his depression-related medicines anymore.
The last thing that drives this avid gardener to follow his gardening routine is his sense of responsibility towards the environment. Sandeep feels that if each citizen starts growing plants, many of the environmental issues can be sorted on their own. However, what disheartens Sandeep is that people fail to realize the power of nature and do not take up simple and sustainable hobbies like gardening.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse,” said Jim Rohn.
Not having a dedicated garden area to start gardening is an excuse that Sandeep will ever buy. He states that there is a wide variety of pots and planters in the market today that can be used for terrace or balcony gardening.
On the other hand, he states, “one can also adopt a roadside or a corner in a nearby park to contribute to the environment while pursuing gardening as a hobby.” Sandeep’s thoughts remind us of a famous quote by Spencer W. Kimball – “Wherever you have a plot of land, however small, plant a garden. Staying close to the soil is good for the soul.”
Sandeep also suggests budding gardening enthusiasts to learn the basics of gardening, understand the lifecycle of seasonal plants, and plant care from self-help and DIY videos on YouTube. “When you understand your plants, the climate they thrive in, the nutrition and sunlight they need, etc.… you save yourself from disappointment,” he states.
“Start with herbs as they are quick to grow and require minimal gardening skills. When you reap your first produce, the feeling is extremely gratifying and motivating. You can grow parsley, rosemary, holy basil, or coriander on your window sill; it will not only beautify the space but also encourage everyone around to take up gardening, even if in a minuscule way,” he adds.
For aspiring gardeners and enthusiasts, the most vital skill that Sandeep wants to teach is patience. “Plants take their own sweet time to grow or bloom. Respect their growth cycle because gardening is all about patience,” he concludes.
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New Delhi: Indians are stocking up on hazmat suits in their defence against Covid-19, perhaps taking a cue from supermodel Naomi Campbell who wore one to the airport. The demand for the protective attire has picked up in the last few days as it has for products such as latex gloves.
Nirvana Being, located in the capital’s Khan Market, has sold 300 hazmat suits after having begun stocking them this month. It also sells online. Online marketplace IndiaMart said demand for such suits jumped fivefold in February.
“The increase in demand can be linked to the coronavirus since the platform has witnessed a sudden increase in inquiries of all the medicinal items which were prescribed to safeguard oneself from the virus, be it surgical masks, hand sanitisers etc.,” said IndiaMart CEO Dinesh Agarwal. Items such as tissue paper, kitchen towels and wet wipes are also selling in much bigger numbers, he said.
IndiaMart said demand quadrupled in February from what it was in December for protective overalls or chemical suits and doubled for latex suits.
“This is the first time we are keeping these bodysuits,” said Jai Dhar Gupta, founder of Nirvana Being. It currently has a stock of 1,200 imported hazmat suits sourced from Dupont and 5,000 pairs of latex gloves. One hazmat suit costs Rs 2,000 while a pair of latex gloves costs ₹100. With the rise in Covid-19 cases, Apollo Pharmacy Retail has also been selling more hazmat suits in the last two weeks.
“The demand for these suits has definitely gone up… These are being used especially by the caregivers and hospital staff,” said Jaya Kumar, CEO of Apollo Pharmacy Retail.
Such suits are available on Flipkart as well. The marketplace didn’t respond to queries.
3M recently received a request for safety goggles for the first time in India, demand for which has been negligible so far. “We have manufactured goggles for supply to the government of India (Ministry of Health), per their specific request,” a company spokesperson told ET.
Great problems bring out great potential, and Vikas Goyal, Senior Manager, Business Analytics at IndiaMART, is a fine example of how to turn adversity to your advantage.
Married to Vaishally, the couple shifted to New Delhi four years back and are proud parents to their son Vivaan. For Vikas, work-life balance is purely a function of hours. He explains that out of the total 168 hours in a week if you strike out 70 hours for the basic chores, you are left with roughly 100 hours. These 100 hours can be segregated by dedicating 60 hours for office, 30 hours for family, and 10 hours for your passion. Coming to passion, Vikas has an undying inclination towards numbers, solving puzzles, cubes, and all things logical.
His passion for numbers takes us back to his early days. The untimely death of Vikas’ father pushed the Goyal family towards financial struggle. All of twelve at that time, Vikas pitched in to contribute whatever little he could, by giving mathematics classes in his neighborhood. “Gradually, the responsibility germinated to love for the subject, and I started coaching CAT/GMAT aspirants during my academic days,” he shares. Vikas went on to crack CAT and pursue PGDM. Besides, he worked with T.I.M.E, Career Launcher, and Endeavor Careers as a part-time quantitative and logical reasoning faculty.
Learning never stopped for Vikas, as the ‘Best Performer of the Year’ awardee for 2016-17 and 2018-19, continues to enhance his skill set with certifications like Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from the American Society of Quality, and Level III Professional Risk Management from PRMIA.
Blessed with a jovial persona, Vikas is an advocate of data-driven decision making. He states,
Vikas shares that when you lead a big team, people get carried away with emotions, however, the leadership must trust data.
“Don’t trust your beta, but trust data.“
Talking about the inspiration behind his book ‘A Date with Numbers,’ Vikas shares that mathematics is perceived as a dull and dry subject with lots of formulas. And youth icons like Virat Kohli add fire to this dislike for the subject, when they release statements like, “I used to get 3, I was that good. I did not understand, why someone would even want to learn math.” To break the notion and make maths interesting for children, he authored ‘A Date with Numbers.’
Vikas brings out the beauty of numbers by linking them to dates. “Dates are special, and they are universal; birthdays, marriage anniversary, work anniversary or even the paycheck day – dates are meaningful to us,” he adds.
Vikas shares an incident that acted as a trigger to write his book. “It was my 13-year-old niece. Last year, I happened to see her on her birthday. She is good in studies but didn’t like mathematics as a subject. I tried to convince her that math is interesting to which she asked to prove it,” he reveals. Vikas took the challenge and proved his point by taking her birthday as an example,
“If a math equation on the birthdate could ignite interest in the kid, then why not do it for each date of the year?”
Vikas thought of beautifully expressing each of the 365 days of the year using basic mathematics to invoke the curious minds of all ages. His formula was to blend the beauty of numeric logic with the emotions of dates.
However, the destination Vikas had set for himself did not pave through easy roads. To identify something unique for each date was a herculean and challenging task. And it becomes tougher when you are working as a full-time employee. “I believe in the motto: There is no “i” in “team” but there is always “i” in “time.” If you are passionate about something, shelling 8-10 hours out of 168 hours in a week is just 5%,” he shares.
The key takeaway from Vikas Goyal’s journey is that anyone should not be bounded by their work, and must follow their passion. While writing his book, Vikas was often ridiculed for being orthodox, there were many who told, ‘who reads books these days.’ However, going back to the roots, and following his passion motivated him to stay on course. “Pursue what you love the most, irrespective of whether it is perceived orthodox, outdated. Do what you love,” Goyal concludes.
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Women across the globe are changing the dynamics of entrepreneurship. Taking a plunge into the entrepreneurial vulnerability, innovating, setting priorities, bending patriarchy, taking critical decisions, overcoming fears, and juggling many roles, women have aced the arena which was predominantly a male bastion, two-decades back.
On International Women’s Day 2020, IndiaMART salutes Women Entrepreneurs and brings three unique stories of grit and growth of women-led businesses to inspire you on this special day.
The journey of Rachna Gupta from a homemaker who got married at a young age of 18, to earning the most coveted crowns of Mrs. India 2019 & Mrs. Summer Global Universe 2020 is awe-inspiring.
As the director of ‘Creative India’ furnishings and owner of ‘Home Hue’ furnishing store in Pune, Maharashtra, Rachna states that life must go on despite the snowballs it throws your way.
“My world came crashing down when I lost my husband in 2012, and I was caught unaware at a juncture in life where you’re left wondering what to do and where to go from here,” states Rachna. However, giving up was not an option, and Rachna gave herself five years to build her life up for her children – Vidul and Tamanna, now 20 and 15, respectively. “It’s been a tough battle, being a single mother and juggling between work while raising my children. And it was only possible due to my firm determination and positive attitude towards life,” shares Rachna.
She joined Panchsheel Realty and pursued an MBA, simultaneously. A year and a half down the line in mid-2014, determined to be her own boss and make her mark, Rachna fulfilled a small order for Radisson Blu, Pune, making it her first order for many to come. Today, her banner ‘Creative India’ supplies furnishings and linen to the top five-star hotels across India, and Radisson Blu stays on as her oldest and largest client. Rachna loves designing beautiful homes and spaces and takes up Interior Designing projects.
She was recognized as a remarkable upcoming business by Femina in 2019. Encouraged by her mother and daughter, she’s participated and won beauty pageants, besides launching her retail store in the heart of Pune. “My endeavors have made me realize that to be a winner, one needs to grab the opportunity and shun all negativity. Women must choose to ignore naysayers, work respectfully, and be accountable to themselves only. No challenge is beyond accomplishment if you are determined and work hard to realize your goals,” she advises fellow women.
An avid environmentalist and women empowerment enthusiast, CA Monika Rathi Maru, co-founded Maru Ecobags in 2018 after quitting a thriving corporate career at Tata Motors. Her entrepreneurial plunge coincided with the time when the Maharashtra government took a stand against plastic, and banned single-use plastic bags. Knowing that eco-friendly bags are critical for a sustainable future, Monika launched Maru Ecobags and formed an all-women squad in the rural periphery of Pune.
“I took the initiative to make my contribution towards safeguarding the environment from the harmful effects of plastic bags and non-woven bags. My next aim was to empower rural women. Women stitch all our cotton bags at their homes. This empowers them and enables them to become financially independent without stepping out of the house,” share Monika
Besides working closely with her 70-member team, Monika also serves as a lecturer at the Institute of Taxation and Accounts, Pune, to quench her love for all things accounting and taxation.
Having recognized by Hindustan Times and LBB Pune, Monika continues to raise awareness against environmental hazards posed by plastic and non-woven bags. On 2nd October 2019, she organized a plastic collection drive in collaboration with the municipal corporation. She was enthused to collect over 150 kg of plastic waste with people participating in the campaign with great zeal. The collected plastic was picked by the Pimpri Chinchwad, Municipal Corporation for a petroleum project.
From leaving the comfort of a corporate career to working towards the environment in her own way, Monika shares that, “it’s not easy to give up your fixed salary, and start afresh as an entrepreneur and start building from grounds up. However, women must overcome fears and follow their true calling.”
Back in 2007, a young Sheetal Talati took over the reins of her family business after the untimely death of her father – Rohit Talati. Having lost her hero overnight, Sheetal did not lose his vision to take Pushpa Industries to the next level. His words were etched in her memory when he had shared that, “his hard work was in its golden period, and there was no stopping right now.”
“Even though I was grieving, the promise I made to him, fuelled a fire inside me. I did not want to let my father’s hard work go in vain. I took over just ten days after my loss and resumed work as usual with our existing clients,” shares Sheetal.
However, this was just the beginning of an avalanche of challenges. She was still learning the ropes of the business on her own and battling offers for a buyout when all of the existing clients left, knowing that a young lady is the new boss in the male-dominated field of HVAC and heat-transfer manufacturing.
Sheetal reveals that “for a while, I went to work and had nothing to do but to switch off the lights at the end of the day. I felt like a failure.”
Determined to turn things around, Sheetal made her resolve to make the best product in the existing market by gaining knowledge first-hand, she enrolled in a course on air conditioning and refrigeration at Father Agnel College, an “all-boys’ course” in Mumbai, after requesting special permission from the administration, to understand the nitty-gritty of manufacturing.
She also took help from the company’s older employees and her father’s extensive notes that felt as though he was guiding her. “I felt confident again. I taught myself everything – from technical stuff like electrical wiring to running the show; I took on every role.”
Today, Pushpa Industries is one of the leading coil manufacturers in Maharashtra. It manufactures all types of heating and cooling coils for air conditioners, AHUs, package units, FCUs, chillers, dryers, cold storage, refrigeration products, etc. It also provides coils and components to leading brands like Blue Star, Voltas, Hitachi, Daikin, and LG, among others.
“Making a breakthrough in a male-dominated industry like manufacturing, I didn’t have any role models to look up to or emulate. I have been told multiple times that she got orders because she is a girl. On the flip side, clients and vendors have often walked into the office demanding to speak with the boss, expecting a male to be in charge,” she explains.
Looking back, Sheetal says that she wanted to be her own role model and leave footsteps for the future generation of women who want to pursue this field. “I didn’t shy away because I was the only female manufacturer in the HVAC and R industry then. If I can hold my ground through perseverance and courage, it will inspire other women to also charter this path, and this is what keeps me going,” says Sheetal.
“Educate yourself at every stage. It is a lifelong process. Make each day count, by learning something new,” the advice that her father gave helped her make focus on learnings at work, and win back the clients, the company had lost.
One of the biggest challenges that women face is straddling different roles of being a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, and the boss! Even in this day and age, there’s a part of the society that expects mothers to not work but look after their kids, especially when their husbands are professionally stable. “Random people offer unsolicited advice all the time. I believe it is sentiments like these that force almost 60-70 percent of women to give up their careers. However, women must charter their own paths and follow their hearts. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman in a given field, with hard work and dedication you are made to win,” she recommends.
Sheetal has been featured in YourStory, ET Tomorrow Makers, and Humans of Bombay and has won numerous awards. “It’s been ten years, and we’ve received countless awards for being the best. I still miss my father every day, but every time there’s a victory at work, I feel closer to him, and finally, it’s not just his dream…it’s ours,” she concludes.
Sunday, 8th March, marks International Women’s Day 2020. Women are the foundation stones of a progressive society; the ones who mobilize generations and spread joy wherever they go. To celebrate womanhood this Women’s Day, we invited women employees of IndiaMART to share their unique stories and inspire others to make breakthroughs and emerge glorious in the endeavors they are chasing, or challenges they are facing.
Hailing from the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, young Tulika Prakash was a flower that discovered its essence when she decided to clear UPTU back in 2011. She prepared for the entrance exam and accomplished her goal by securing admission in IIMT, Greater Noida. Getting admission
As a child, Tulika was enrolled in multiple extra-curricular classes post-school hours. She shares, “everyone has some or the other aspirations tries to reach it, but I was quite different as my aspirations were never fixed; be it becoming a great painter, a loving teacher, dancer, badminton player, or an engineer. What I did was not only following a single dream but following each and every dream with a focused mind. It was hard to reach the gates of the district competition when I met with an accident just to prove myself best in painting.”
Upon moving to IIMT, Greater Noida, Tulika was enthralled with her new-found family of fellow students and professors who motivated her to believe in herself and etch her presence. The first semester brought her an award in technical writing, proving to be the first of many wins in debates, drawing competitions, presentations, and other contests in the coming semesters. With late-night studies and consistent efforts, she emerged as a college topper.
The fourth year was special as Tulika reserved her berth in three companies during the placement drive. Keen upon joining one of the firms,
As is with life, it gives you a high and makes you feel invincible, but in the next moment, it makes you realize that nothing is in our hands. Tulika could not clear UPSC Interview, and it impacted her mental health to the extent that emotions could flare anytime, anywhere; and she would cry for no reason. Her younger brother came to her rescue and understood the feelings that had bottled up all this while. Tulika recalls that he would give her a champi (massage), and even though he is younger to her, he filled the place of her mother, while she was staying miles away from her family. He convinced Tulika to take clinical help to treat her depression. However, things went from bad to worse when a psychologist prescribed hard psychiatric medications, that impacted Tulika’s overall health.
A change of doctor proved to be a ray of hope, and Tulika’s condition took a turn for the better.
Meanwhile, she joined IndiaMART and interacting with her colleagues only enhanced her emotional equilibrium. Eight months down the line, she has regained her confidence, and no one can imagine the struggle she’s had in the past few years.
“I achieved one of the highest tags in the Indian society by qualifying UPSC civil services mains but went down with depression after I couldn’t clear the interview. Still, life goes on, so why not be happy and joyful. After a long journey of one year, I’m back with a smile and laughter focusing on more and more targets,” says Tulika.
A charming millennial, brimming with energy, and high dreams are what defines Tulika, and this women’s day it is time to applaud her resilience to push herself out of depression, besides her courage to share her story with others to let them know they are not alone in their struggles, and ups and downs are part of a good life!
Our other muse for the day is Tulika Kumar, an HR professional from New Delhi, India. An alumnus of the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, Tulika earned her MBA from Delhi School of Economics. She was absorbed by the company where she did her internship and served there for three and a half years before getting married and relocating the United States.
Fast forward, the next fourteen years were spent raising two beautiful daughters – Priya and Pragya, and supporting her husband to realize the American dream. The family decided to move back to their Indian roots in 2018, and Tulika found the timing right for her second innings in the corporate world. Planning ahead, she enrolled herself in a few online courses to learn
In June 2019, Tulika moved back to India, and her job hunt brought her to IndiaMART. Tulika shares that while walking inside the office on her first day, in this so-called comeback, it made her more anxious than when she joined her first office eighteen years back. But she had the resolve not to let anything hamper her zeal to work again.
“After having done my MBA from a reputed institute and a very fulfilling career for 3.5 years, I got married and relocated to the USA. There my career took a back seat first because I didn’t have work authorization and then to care for my young family. Time flew…. I kept myself abreast with the latest in the field of HR. I had been out of the workforce for more than 14 years! Though I was and am thankful for the time I was able to devote to my home and kids, I also wanted to go back to my career,” shares Tulika.
Thousands of women quit work after getting married to prioritize family over their careers. However, Tulika Kumar is an illustration of a woman who knows that she wants all but maybe not at the same time. Today, she is happy that she decided to take a break from work and focus on her family. She’s equally elated with the fact that she did not lose herself and left no stone unturned to stay relevant and
Tulika Kumar advises fellow women to follow their hearts when presented with life choices. Whether to work or not, should be entirely a woman’s decision. She also suggests women stay in touch with their line of work, and never give up on their passion.
Hope the different dimensions of life presented through the kaleidoscope of life events shared by Tulika Prakash and Tulika Kumar reflect upon our readers and inspire them that nothing can limit a woman’s aspirations!
Google cloud regions bring Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services to global organisations in industries like media and entertainment, retail and manufacturing, helping them drive growth, differentiation, and innovation for their business. As the company’s customers in India grow and diversify, Google continues to advance and invest in its cloud infrastructure to help regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services, as well as public sector organisations across India achieve their goals.
Rick Harshman, Managing Director, Google Cloud Asia Pacific, said, “At Google Cloud, our mission is to accelerate every organisation’s ability to transform through data-powered innovation with leading infrastructure, platform, industry solutions and expertise designed to meet our customers where they are on their journey to the cloud.”
GCP regions are the cornerstone of Google’s cloud infrastructure, and they enable customers such as L&T Finance, Manipal Hospital Group, Reliance Mutual Fund, Royal Enfield, TechMahindra, Truecaller, and many more to deliver high performing, secure, low latency, cloud-based services to their users, no matter where they are around the world.
Projected to launch in 2021, the Delhi cloud region will have three zones to protect against service disruptions. The region will also include a portfolio of key GCP products, offer lower latency to nearby users, and, when combined with the existing region in Mumbai, enable geographically separate in-country disaster recovery for the customers’ mission-critical applications.
For customers in Delhi and beyond—and businesses and organisations yet to try Google Cloud services—the new region presents an opportunity to take advantage of the big data and infrastructure services onshore while staying compliant with India’s data laws and regulations.
Harshman further added, “2020 is already shaping up to be a great year for Google Cloud in India, and we look forward to helping businesses and governments solve their most complex challenges and create value for years to come.”
Several Indian customers welcomed the addition of the Google Cloud region to Delhi. Sunil Prabhune, Chief Executive-Rural Finance, and Group Head-Digital, IT and Analytics, L&T Financial Services, said, “Cloud is the technology that enables us to achieve scale and reach. Today there are countless data points available about rural consumers which enable us to personalize our products to serve them better. With access to faster compute power, we can also on-board consumers more efficiently. Our rural businesses have clocked a disbursement CAGR of 60% over the past three years.”
Mukesh Rathi, CIO & Chief Digital Officer, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, said, “We knew we made the right choice when we selected Dialogflow Enterprise Edition as our strategic, long-term platform to run intelligent chatbots across our inhouse processes and functions. A Delhi cloud region shows we are working with a cloud provider that shares our commitment to high-quality in-market and multinational services.”
Amarinder S Dhaliwal, Chief Product Officer, IndiaMART, said, “Buyers and suppliers can already access our marketplace much faster than previously with Google Cloud, and this has a positive impact on customer engagement, time spent and the entire user journey. We are extremely excited about the potential of a second GCP region in India to help us provide an even better experience to the businesses that use IndiaMART.”
Akhil Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, NoBroker, said, “Google Cloud is transforming the cloud market similar to what NoBroker is doing by providing C2C platform for real estate needs without any brokerages. A second Google Cloud region in India will give us access to secure infrastructure closure to customers as we recently launched NoBroker services in NCR region. It will also help us retain customer data within India – meeting our compliance requirements.”
Analysts and investors are hoping that 2020 too will produce a few multi-bagger debutants.
Mumbai: Five of the 16 initial public offerings of calendar 2019 doubled investor money over the past few months in an volatile market.
With a long list of issues lined up for this year, analysts and investors are hoping that 2020 too will produce a few multi-bagger debutants. The analysts say the performance of the ongoing Rs 10,000 crore SBI Cards and Payment Services issue is likely to have a bearing on how the primary market behaves through the year.
As many as 12 of the 16 IPOs that hit the market last year are trading with gains till date, while four failed to deliver returns.
The issue of state-run Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTCNSE -8.60 %) was the star performer, with the shares jumping a whopping 445 per cent since its debut in September, 2019. The stock hit a record high of Rs 1,995 on February 25 from its issue price of Rs 320 per share.
The other star performers included Metropolis Healthcare, Neogen Chemicals, Indiamart Intermesh and Affle (India), data from primary market tracker Prime Database showed.
The IPO market had a lackluster start to calendar 2020 until the much-awaited SBI Card issue hit the market earlier this week, creating a lot of buzz.
The issue had been subscribed 15 times till the start of fourth and last day of the bidding process. Bankers expect the issue to be subscribed 30 to 35 times as high networth individuals (HNIs) are expected to place most of their bids on the last day, specially reserved for them and retail investors on Thursday.
“A lot will depend on SBI Card listing, and how that pans out. Given the entire coronavirus scare the secondary market is already facing the brunt of it,” said Pranav Haldea, Managing Director of Prime Database.
The impact was visible in the unlisted market. Even as the IPO mopped up solid subscriptions, unlisted shares of the company took a knock in the unofficial market for trading in such shares.
The seven-day losing streak of the secondary market and jitters created by
oronavirus outbreak in the national capital caused panic in the unlisted market, and the premium that the unlisted shares of SBI Card enjoyed halved.
Dealers in the unlisted market said the premium on the counter, which was around Rs 380-390 a week ago, has plunged over 65 per cent to Rs 130-140 as of Wednesday.
“When the secondary market is volatile, primary issuances will be hit. Till the time the entire situation stabilises, I doubt there will be more issuances in the market,” Haldea said.
IPOs worth around Rs 21,080 crore are waiting with Sebi approvals to hit the market.
“Fortunately, the quality of IPOs that came in 2019 was better, and their business models were different. This season, the IPO process has started with SBI Card, which is a company to hold in a portfolio,” said
Deven Choksey, Group Managing Director, KR Choksey Investment Managers
“The gains on listing and beyond would depend on how the secondary market performs,” he said.
Choksey was concerned that almost 95 per cent of IPO money is funded by financiers. “The issue will sail through, but because of coronavirus scare, the secondary market is subdued. So problems may erupt post listing. We need to wait and watch what happens at the IPO listing,” he said.