Another top priority in FY23 will be to continue working with investee companies in which IndiaMart had acquired stakes in, says Prateek Chandra.
B2B E-commerce firm IndiaMART CFO Prateek Chandra is eying an increase of 35,000 new customers in FY23 and has plans to hire 200-300 people every quarter, betting on robust business activity even as concerns over high inflation linger on.
“FY23 will be a year of investments. We will be significantly investing in strengthening channel partners’ network and in hiring talent across service, sales, product and tech functions. Overall, we are looking at about 35,000 new paying customers… We have plans to hire 200-300 people every quarter. We hope for faster business activity compared to last year” IndiaMART CFO Prateek Chandra told ETCFO.
IndiaMART ended FY22 with 169,000 paying customers; the company added 17,000 new customers, a growth rate of 13% compared to the year-ago mark of 152,000 customers, the CFO shared. A 35,000 addition, on the current base of 169,000, if achieved as targeted, would take the company’s total customer base over the 200,000 mark.
IndiaMart added about 1,000 employees in FY22 taking the total headcount to roughly 3,700. Its employee count had declined in the pandemic-hit FY21 to about 2,700 from 3,150 mark in the preceding year, the CFO shared.
The IndiaMART CFO said his top goal in FY23 is to acquire new customers and does not expect any major challenge in it. But small to mid-sized businesses have been facing frequent economic law changes or other disruptions over the past five years or so, alluding to demonetization, goods and services tax reform, liquidity crisis emanating from IL&FS default, and the most recent pandemic, he said. And in this backdrop, he emphasised, their business environment needs to be continuously monitored.
“These set of changes can impact customer addition growth, but we are seeing buoyancy in economic activity. This is reflected in the latest April record GST collections too. We hope the business momentum continues,” the CFO said. Also, the CFO expressed enthusiasm on collections from the customers and the deferred revenue, sharing that the company had grown 31% and 25%,year-on-year respectively on these two counts. He reflected a similar sentiment for the current financial year FY23.
Another top priority in FY23 will be to continue working with investee companies in which IndiaMart had acquired stakes in, he said. In April, IndiaMart acquired 100% equity ownership in Busy Infotech Private Limited for Rs 500 crore.
Prateek Chandra said high inflation, too, could hamper growth in customer addition, but he hoped the Russia-Ukraine war, which is seen to be driving this high inflation in the first place, comes to an end sooner rather than later.
The CFO was clear that his focus will be on customer addition growth and that margins improvement won’t be much of a priority. Though he added that he does not see the margins getting further hit from here on and that he can sustain them. IndiaMart’s margins plunged to 28% in Q4 FY22 compared to 48% in Q4FY21 as peoples’ costs shot up. People costs constituted about 60% of the total revenue or 75% of the total costs during the period, the CFO shared.
“I see inflation as a done deal. The industry is expecting it to range around 6-7% levels, and the RBI as well as the government are taking steps to contain it. It is unlikely it will come down unless the world has a solution to the Russia-Ukraine war. Hopefully, things won’t escalate from here,” Prateek Chandra said.
The CFO said he does not intend to pass on the higher input costs to its customers at least for the entry-level packages. “We are cautious of the price increases. We will not increase our pricing for entry level packages, and even for high level or platinum ones, only small increases may be there,” the CFO said.
IndiaMART is a B2B e-commerce company; it clocked Rs 750 crores revenue in FY22, a growth of 13% year-on-year. About 95% of the company’s revenues come from subscriptions.
The company is bracing for a turf war. Investments in tech and acquisitions are helping it pivot.
Kalyan Karmakar, a 50-year old entrepreneur from Delhi, trades in industrial adhesives. He took his marketing online during the covid-19 lockdown of March 2020. That was the best business move he ever made, he feels.
“I went to IndiaMart because traditional marketing routes, including cold calls, were not an option. I was apprehensive especially about giving out my price points but the ₹1 lakh I spent (on the platform) in the first year generated 400 inquiries and 30 deals. That was a good return on investment,” he says.
Karmakar tried out online marketing solutions from other companies as well— some of which he found to be complicated.
With industrial demand picking up this year, he is planning to increase his advertisement spending on IndiaMart.
Unknown to Karmakar, he, and other small businesses, are the cynosure of many eyes. For, in India’s business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce ecosystem, there is a turf war raging. Not just IndiaMart, this is a battleground where both established multinationals and very young startups are all eyeing a piece of the action. The pie, according to some estimates, is pegged at over $1 trillion by 2024.
Nevertheless, the market maker here is an old warrior—Dinesh Agrawal, the founder and CEO of IndiaMart InterMesh Ltd. Founded in 1999, it is one of India’s largest and oldest online B2B marketplace that lists 72 million products from across 97,000 categories. Everything from industrial machinery and building material to laboratory instruments and kitchen containers. The company claims 90 million monthly visits (on the desktop web- site, mobile website and mobile app). That is about 10% of India’s internet audience. The pandemic has now turbo charged the traffic. It took the firm 25 years to gain 60 million visitors per month. In just the last two years, it added another 30 million.
Moreover, in a country where generating revenue from the internet through paid subscriptions has been difficult, IndiaMart is almost unique in that 95% of its revenues come from subscriptions paid upfront. Even as the Indian economy faced many headwinds, the company grew 22% (CAGR) since 2015-16 to generate revenues of ₹670 crore in 2020-21. Last year, its net profit grew by over 90%. In the nine months ended December 2021, net profits climbed 7% to ₹240 crore from the year-ago period.
While the going seems good, investors appear to be pondering over a crucial question: can IndiaMart stave off growing competition? After all, many of the start- ups it is up against are well-funded. According to Tracxn, a data site tracking deals, Indian B2B firms saw $2 billion in venture funding in 2021 alone.
“B2B e-commerce has done exceptionally well over the last couple of years owing to the pandemic. Nevertheless, e-commerce occupies only a fraction of the overall B2B market. We expect a multi-year hyper-growth in high double-digit percentage in the sector over the next five years,” says Amit Sharma, general partner at Cactus Venture Partners, a venture capital firm.
We will come to IndiaMart’s strategy in a bit. First, let’s take a peek at the company’s main rivals.
IndiaMart’s business model faces a two-front war. There are the large horizontal players on one side and smaller vertical companies on the other.
The horizontal thrust comes from Flip- kart and Amazon who are sharpening the B2B play with investments focused on inventory management and delivery logistics. Udaan, a Bengaluru-based startup that started in 2016, today caters to categories that include a broad swathe—lifestyle, electronics, home & kitchen, staples, fruits and vegetables, FMCG, pharma, toys and general merchandise. It is also one of the best funded, with $1.4 billion in its kitty.
Zetwerk, which started in 2018, offers manufacturing and supply-chain services. It has raised $650 million thus far and is an indirect competition. Outsourced manufacturers are some of the biggest buyers on IndiaMart. Both Zetwerk and Udaan are unicorns, or companies with a valuation of over a billion dollars. So is Moglix, company that focusses primarily on industrial supplies. In January, the firm raised $250 million at a valuation of $2.6 billion.
IndiaMart also faces formidable competition from other vertical players such as Infra.Market, a company in the supplies of construction material, Elasticrun, a B2B platform for rural India, and Medikaba- zaar that caters to medical and healthcare products.
All this interest and funding in vertical B2B e-commerce doesn’t impress Dinesh Agarwal one bit. Why is that?
“Vertical B2B e-commerce play is a fantasy,” he says. “We were around during the dot-com boom. We, too, were tempted by the craze for verticals and started a bunch of them like IndiaMart Cars and IndiaMart Handicrafts. But we quickly realized that achieving a certain threshold of monthly visitors is next to impossible. We failed at it and speedily exited,” he adds. “Without a minimum threshold, which is a number where you do not have to spend more money to get the next customer, the marketplace becomes a ghost town,” he reiterates.
The B2B ecommerce market is estimated to total $1 trillion by 2024; Indian B2B firms mopped up $2 billion in venture funding in 2021 alone.
THE AI PLAY
Yash Anand, 48, is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court. He went online to look for garden furniture. After scrolling through Amazon and Urban Ladder (an online furniture store), he ended up at IndiaMart’s site.
“The detailing impressed me. And the option of small orders was a real surprise. I paid ₹27,000 for six chairs and a table, including delivery by the third party. And this was ₹5,000 cheaper than the B2C options,” he says.
Individuals were never IndiaMart’s customers, and suppliers at the site mostly cater to bulk orders. The company’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine, however, has been stealthily working to shake up things a bit. They can perhaps identify and nudge even people looking for small orders to make a transaction, and at a price that is competitive. Investments in cutting edge technology like AI is one leg of IndiaMart’s survival strategy. And while every new-age company uses exponential technologies, IndiaMart has one advantage—over 20 years of customer data.
“Our machine learning and artificial intelligence engines tell us how many of the 90 million monthly visitors our marketing teams should call back. We are able to predict this given our two decades of data. Through correlation, we can say which visitor has a realistic chance of making money,” Dinesh Agarwal says.
The company’s analytics engine also helps the sales team identify potential customers who can gain from subscriptions or premium yearly memberships. Product information and recommendations are being chiseled, much like in a B2C e-commerce site. Search solar panels and you get wattage information; look for an electric pump and you are informed whether it’s single or double phase one; type printing press and you get information around maximum printing length.
“Keeping up to date with digital capabilities is pivotal to helping B2B businesses grow and retain existing customers,” says Anand Ramanathan, partner at Deloitte, a management consultancy. “We will see the focus move towards personalization through data analytics and AI,” he adds.
A second leg in the company’s strategy is a string of acquisitions. Agarwal invests in companies that complements IndiaMart but moves the needle even beyond its marketplace model. You can think of this as a pivot of sorts.
He has spent millions on acquisitions that will provide a useful service to medium and small enterprises: accounting. IndiaMart has acquired five digital accounting platforms over the last two years.
“We know how to sell subscriptions. We are profitable because people trust our services, make money from them, and are thus comfortable paying for them. Our research tells us that apart from selling and purchase transactions, the entrepreneur has one important need, which is accounting,” Agarwal explains.
In January this year, IndiaMart entered into an agreement to buy 100% stake in accounting software company Busy Infotech for ₹500 crore. This is IndiaMart’s
biggest acquisition, thus far. “The company aims to simplify the accounting ecosystem for the customer. Today, the ecosystem is fragmented for book keeping, GST, contingent liabilities, accounts payable and receivable or revenue per customer. For almost any accounting need, there is no unified solution. We believe that we can create a digital on demand marketplace in accounting fintech, going forward,” Agarwal says on his big-ticket purchase.
The idea, he further explains, is to offer software as a service (SaaS) package for accounting needs to his existing and potential clients. Here, Agarwal seems to have done his homework quietly. In 2019, he acquired a 27% stake in accounting software firm Vyapar. Back then, the company had 10,000 paying subscribers. Today, it has 100,000. The penetration of goods and services tax (GST) created a massive demand for proper book keeping.
Amit Sharma of Cactus Venture Partners thinks this strategy may work. “Selling add-on services, especially in the SaaS domain has sizeable demand. We will likely see innovation where these solutions will be taken to tier 2 and tier 3 cities, which could be a game-changer. The amount of customization and engagement models required for such penetration is likely to be different for the ones currently on offer,” he says.
IndiaMart, meanwhile, has also partnered with companies in other fintech domains, such as payments. Its partnership with Tazapay, for instance, will help the firm launch international payments and take on the big daddy of the field—PayPal. “With Tazapay, we are now launching an international payment service complete with an escrow facility. We will charge only 2% for international payments. These will be immediate payments and the customer will not have to worry about the payment reflecting two days later in their accounts,” Agarwal says. “Overseas payments have been far too costly and the rollover of cash takes far too long,” he adds.
MORE TO DO
There is one area where nimble start-ups and larger horizontal players beat IndiaMART – customer care.
When orders get stuck, the process is redressed far better at Flipkart and Amazon, industry watchers said. To avoid hic-cups, particularly when orders costing millions are involved, IndiaMart needs to massively upgrade its call centre, and back-end systems. The company says it is refining its background checks on both suppliers and sellers while aggressively hiring, for both marketing and back-end customer service.
Some analysts remain bullish about the company’s prospects. While IndiaMart’s stock is currently way off from its 52-week high of ₹9,710.70—it closed at ₹4,867 on the NSE on Wednesday—they see an upward momentum. Kunj Bansal, share analyst and chief investment officer (CIO) of Investment Illiteracy, a personal finance advisory company, says: “IndiaMart has the advantage of having already onboarded a critical mass of customers. Their AI play will help fine tune its sales; the fintech acquisitions will open a new line of subscription business.”
The company, he adds, has moved beyond the small and medium scale businesses and is now signing up bigger companies, broadening its product range. All this could make IndiaMart an exciting company to watch over the next three years. Agarwal appears excited, too. He says he is ready for the turf battle, which will only get more intense over the next few years.
It is no secret that in the last couple of years, it has become easier to do transactions and the supply chain ow has become smoother in the B2B marketplace. Dinesh Agarwal, the founder, and CEO of IndiaMART, says this is because of an increase in the internet footprint.
Agarwal started Indiamart, a B2B platform for SMEs, way back in 1996. “There was very low penetration of computers and the internet in India. Information ow was not that easy. If you’re sitting in the US or Australia and trying to nd something, some products or services from India or China, the most information you’d get was in the print directories or at the export promotion councils. Information exchange and trade would happen through embassies and trade fairs, which was expensive, and not many people used to do that,” he says.
Then in 2002, the BPO industry boomed in India. Slowly internet usage spread, computers became cheaper and information ow over email and other digital modes became common. Then came the widespread adoption of smartphones and cheaper internet services. “Once 3G and smartphones were launched, internet penetration grew tenfold. Smaller businesses from the hinterlands could nd out prices or suppliers in Delhi, Mumbai, and other places. The entire ecosystem changed dramatically,” he says.
This change got a further push with demonetization, GST adoption, and other things like the use of the Unified Payments Interface.
The partnership will help exporters have a customized seamless payment solution for B2B trades, explained the firms in a joint statement.
B2B marketplace IndiaMART and payment platform Tazapay have entered into a partnership to facilitate cross-border transactions for exporters in India. The partnership will help exporters have a customized seamless payment solution for B2B trades, explained the firms in a joint statement.
The companies explained that currently merchants not only have to navigate complex negotiations with payment service providers, but they also have limited options when it comes to making and accepting payments on the global stage.
The partnership between IndiaMART and Tazapay will help the B2B exporters get coverage in key economic markets like South-East Asia, the USA, the UK, the EU, and many more.
On top of offering local payment methods such as local bank transfers, credit cards, and QR code payments – similar to UPI – for buyers and sellers alike, merchants will be able to deal with international clients like a local while enjoying competitive platform fees, and the best FX rates, conveyed the firms.
The partnership will also ensure that all transactions meet international trade compliance requirements, including the issuance of Foreign Inwards Remittance Advice (FIRA) where required.
The partnership with Tazapay also further strengthens the value proposition offered by the IndiaMART Verified Export Services (IVE), which were launched in 2020 enabling its merchants to expand their business across the globe by tapping into the pool of more than 10 million foreign buyers every month coming from more than 100 countries.
“Being the end-to-end businesses solution provider, we are constantly working to provide ease of doing business to our patrons. We have around 50,000 sellers on our platform who are export-oriented. So, we looked for a partner with a customer-friendly track record that can handle cross-border payments seamlessly. Now, these exporters registered on our marketplace will also be able to make and track payments for their export business,” said Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, IndiaMART.
“Having a seamless payments experience is increasingly crucial for B2B traders as more businesses digitize and look towards international expansion as a viable means to grow. However, cross-border B2B transactions remain as complex as ever,” said Rahul Shinghal, CEO of Tazapay.
Noida, India, April 28, 2022: IndiaMART InterMESH Limited (referred to as “IndiaMART” or the “Company”), today announced its financial results for the full year and fourth quarter ending March 31, 2022.
IndiaMART reported consolidated Total Revenue from Operations of Rs. 201 Crore in Q4 FY22, a growth of 12% YoY primarily driven by 11% increase in in number of paying subscription suppliers and marginal improvement in realization from existing customers. Consolidated Deferred Revenue grew by 25% YoY to Rs. 907 Crore as on March 31, 2022.
Consolidated EBITDA was Rs. 57 Crore and EBITDA margin for Q4 FY22 stood at 28% as compared to 48% for Q4 FY21. The margin declined primarily due to investments being made for growth in manpower as well as sales and distribution which has resulted into increased customer addition. Consolidated EBIT for the period was Rs. 54 Crore with EBIT margin of 27% in Q4 FY22.
Profit before Tax was at Rs. 77 Crore and Net Profit was Rs. 57 Crores, representing margins of 33% and 25% respectively.
IndiaMART registered traffic of 260 million and Unique business enquiries of 23 million in Q4 FY22. Supplier Storefronts grew to 7.1 million, an increase of 13% YoY and paying subscription suppliers grew to 169,324, a net addition of 13,065 subscribers during the quarter.
IndiaMART continues to make investments in strategic avenues with the objective of building a comprehensive e-commerce ecosystem for business enablement on the platform. During the quarter, following investments were announced by the company:
In April 2022, IndiaMART completed acquisition of 100% stake (for Rs. 500 Crore) of ‘Busy Infotech Private Limited’, one of the largest accounting software companies in India. It offers business accounting solutions, GST billing & return filing, inventory management and other services.
“We are happy to close the financial year on a strong note with growth in customers, revenue and cash flows while maintaining healthy margins in the business. Growing cash flow from operations resulting into strong balance sheet enables us to build newer capabilities as well as create a large talent pool to meet the evolving customer needs. With the increasing internet adoption, we remain committed to enabling businesses to transform themselves as well as building a strong and sustainable foundation for leveraging the growth opportunities ahead to create long term shareholder value.”
IndiaMART is India’s largest online B2B marketplace for business products and services. IndiaMART makes it easier to do business by connecting buyers and sellers across product categories and geographies in India through business enablement solutions. IndiaMART provides ease and convenience to the buyers by offering a wide assortment of products and a responsive seller base while offering lead generation, lead management and payment solutions to its sellers.
|IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd.|
Tower 2, Assotech Business Cresterra,
Floor No.6, Plot No.22, Sec 135,
Noida-201305, U.P.Registered Office
1st Floor, 29-Daryaganj, Netaji Subash Marg, Delhi – 110002.
For any queries, please contact: email@example.com
IndiaMART, India’s largest B2B marketplace, via its wholly-owned subsidiary Tradezeal Online Private Limited, has made an investment of approximately INR 7.5 Crores to purchase compulsorily convertible debentures (CCDs) of Truckhall Private Limited (‘Superprocure’).
Superprocure is a SaaS platform that digitizes the entire freight sourcing and dispatch monitoring system of the logistics department of an organization. It allows logistics departments to find the best possible rates through a transparent bidding and auction structure, thus saving costs.
The unified platform offers full and real-time visibility to all events across the entire dispatch cycle, from indenting to delivery, via alerts, dashboards, and reports, which improves collaboration and the control tower that makes on-the-spot decision making easier.
IndiaMART had previously led the seed investment round of Superprocure in April 2022, in which it had invested Rs 9.68 Crores as primary capital into the company, and had purchased existing investor securities worth Rs 1.33 Crores via secondary share purchase.
Speaking on the investment, Mr. Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of IndiaMART said “Last year we led the seed investment round into Superprocure based on our confidence in the team’s expertise and ability to develop a unified SaaS product which allows enterprises to bring all stakeholders on one platform and manage all parts of their logistics operations. Since then, the team has validated the product, and marquee enterprise customers across industries are now relying on the platform to reduce freight costs and improve supply chain efficiencies. We are excited to partner with the Superprocure team and support them on their next phase of growth”.
Commenting on the fundraise, Anup Agrawal, CEO and Co-founder of Superprocure said “SuperProcure is an integrated logistics platform for end to end digitalization, automation & collaboration across stakeholders to achieve efficiency, visibility, and resilience across logistics processes. It empowers the logistics team to optimize freight costs and service customers better. We are excited to double down on our partnership with IndiaMART, and are looking forward to utilizing their expertise and funding to help us enhance the product and reach more enterprises”
The Hindu Business Line | Business World | YourStory | Free Press Journal | Flipboard | HR Next | News Logic | VIE Stories | Afresh Cyou | Inc42 | VCCircle | IndiaRetailing | Plunge Daily | Startup Story | SME Street
IndiaMART is buzzing in trade after JM Financial retained its buy call on the stock.
The stock is down 20 percent in 2022 and down 47 percent from its 52-week high on concerns of compression in margins in Q4FY22 and Q1FY23.
The company says that the margin compression is on account of higher hiring and wage inflation.
However, according to JM Financials, the ramp-up of sales effort is needed for the stock to deliver good growth in the near to medium term.
JM Financial has retained its buy rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 5,100 per share.
The stock was trading with gains of about 5 percent, around Rs 5074 at 12:48 pm.
IndiaMART InterMESH shares jumped on Tuesday with large volume after JM Financial retained a ‘buy’ rating on the stock
IndiaMART InterMESH shares surged with high volume on Tuesday after JM Financial retained a ‘buy’ rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 5,100. The IndiaMART stock finished the day with a gain of 5.1 percent at Rs 5,074.3 apiece on BSE, after rising to as high as Rs 5,138.7 during the session.
A total of 52,000 IndiaMART shares changed hands on Tuesday, as against a daily average of 13,000 in the past two weeks, according to exchange data.
At the current level, the stock has retreated 47.7 percent from a 52-week high scaled in October 2021.
A ramp-up of sales is needed for the stock to deliver good growth in the near to medium term, according to the brokerage.
Hemang Jani, the Retail Equity Strategist at Motilal Oswal Financial Services, is positive on IndiaMART InterMESH shares.
In an interaction with CNBC-TV18 on Monday, he said the recent rise in IndiaMART follows a correction in the past 3-4 months and comes amid renewed buying interest in the startup theme.
Last week, BofA Securities retained an ‘underweight’ rating on IndiaMART with a target price of Rs 3,285 citing risks to estimates on rising costs. The brokerage also said that the company’s margin will be muted in Q4 on the back of employee expenses.
IndiaMART, the largest B2B marketplace of India, has announced an investment of approximately Rs. 45.98 Crores in Finlite Technologies Private Limited and acquire 51.09% stake in the company. As part of the transaction, IndiaMART will be investing Rs. 35 Crores into the company via primary infusion and purchase shares from the promoters for the remaining amount.
Finlite Technologies under the brand name ‘Livekeeping’, offers value-added services to businesses over their existing on-premise accounting softwares, primarily ‘Tally’. It provides desktop-based digital integration with on-premise accounting software which syncs the data automatically to its mobile-based application enabling the user to view their accounting data on mobile. Businesses can access, analyze and share accounting information like sales, receivables, outstanding payments on real-time through Livekeeping application. In addition, Livekeeping also offers API`s to connect on premise accounting software, with different e-commerce platforms, ERP`s and software enabling speedy transfer of data.
Speaking about the investment, Mr. Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of IndiaMART said “Real-time visibility of accounting data like revenue growth, profitability, cash flow management, etc. is a critical yet underserved problem faced by Indian Businesses. Livekeeping has been able to validate an innovative SaaS-based solution to this problem. Further, this investment helps complete the IndiaMART ecosystem in the accounting space.
Adding to this, Mr. Ritesh Kothari, CEO of Livekeeping said “We are excited to partner with IndiaMART in our mission to automate accounting operations. Investment from IndiaMART will enable us to strengthen the product & technology, reach to the higher number of businesses and keep innovating on behalf of our customers. IndiaMART’s understanding of the SMEs and accounting space will play a big role in making this company a huge success.
Since its listing on BSE and NSE, IndiaMART has invested in companies such as Vyapar, Bizom, Shipway, Legistify, Superprocure, Aerchain, M1xchange, Easyecom, Fleetx, Industry Buying, BUSY, Realbooks, and Zimyo. All these investments are part of IndiaMART’s long-term objective of offering various software solutions which improve ease of doing business for Indian businesses and Enterprises.
Money Control | Business Standard | Financial Express | India Infoline | Free Press Journal | Devdiscource | Trade Brains | Equity Bulls | Knowledia | Finno Expert | User Walls | Topolo Gypro | 15 Minutes | India TV Times | Eflip | News on News | Navbharat Times | Economic Times | ET Retail | IBC News | Business Standard | Raftaar
Noida-based B2B marketplace IndiaMART has invested in over a dozen startups since it went public. Here’s a deep dive at what the company looks for in a startup.
In February 2021, when IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd, an online business-to-business (B2B) marketplace, raised about Rs 1,070 crore from qualified institutional buyers, it had a clear agenda — expansion.
However, inorganic expansion isn’t easy for IndiaMart, which facilitates buy-sell transactions spanning over 97,000 different categories. After all, it needed to look for businesses with a matching synergy that would benefit its network of over 143 million buyers and 7 million+ store fronts.
Between February and November 2021, “We met about over 200-300 companies, explored various sectors,” Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IndiaMART, tells YourStory.
While the Noida-based company had made a few acquisitions earlier, the spree really began last year. Since April 2021, it has spent over Rs 905 crore across 13 deals.
In fact, in the last five months — since October 2021 — it has bought stakes in nine tech startups including Zimyo, Realbooks, IMPL, Fleetx Technologies, Busy Infotech, Simply Vyapar, Legistify, EasyEcom, and M1Xchange.
These investments — across accounting, logistics, etc — are expected to further the business development of IndiaMART’s customers, says Dinesh.
The aim was simple — aid the digital adoption by businesses across India.
Across India Inc, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst of sorts when it comes to digital adoption and adaption, and small and medium enterprises have learnt the value of digital in a harsher way, says an investment banker, who has been working closely with startups that have listing plans in the near future, on the condition of anonymity.
And IndiaMART hopes to capitalise on this rising need. “There are three segments—micro and small, medium, and large. For each of them, there is a different offering that is needed. One size doesn’t fit all,” says Dinesh.
For example, in accounting, micro and small businesses can benefit from Vyapaar’s offerings, medium-sized ones can avail Busy’s software, while large businesses that need a multi-location facility can use Realbooks. Then, HR and payroll management is taken care of by Ziymo, invoicing by M1Xchange.
While most of these are minority investments, IndiaMART still has a lot to gain– and to offer.
Punit Gupta, Founder, and CEO of e-commerce solutions provider EasyEcom, told YourStory in a previous interaction in January 2022, “More than the capital, it is the partnership we are excited about, where we are able to collaborate with them (IndiaMART) to propel our journey.
“The scale is what fascinates me about IndiaMart,” he added.
IndiaMART invested Rs 13.35 crore in EasyEcom for a 26.01 percent stake in December 2021. The Bengaluru-based startup offers omnichannel solutions for e-commerce businesses and sellers, with 150 ready-to-use integrations for stock management, warehousing, and order management.
Entrepreneurs like Punit are excited about the potential information and network exchange with a company that has been in the sector since 1996.
Punit added, “The partnership is very valuable for us because along with the money, they also bring in the know-how to work with small and medium enterprises in India, which nobody knows better than IndiaMART.”
An added bonus is the entrepreneurial experience and expertise brought to the table by Dinesh, who is mentoring these startups on product, distribution strategy, and building teams.
“The first couple of quarters go into understanding their customer persona and pain points better,” he adds.
He will also guide them in monthly or quarterly review meetings, with his experience and understanding of why some products fail or succeed, what sales strategies worked in the past and what didn’t.
IndiaMART also has built a strong subscription business, with 95 percent of its revenue coming from subscriptions—and can help sell subscriptions in the B2B segment.
A large part of the investment it raised in February 2021 has already been used. With the remaining amount, “We will see if we can make one or two more investments,” Dinesh says.
For the company, these are both financial and strategic investments.
“First and foremost, every minority investment must have a good return financially over 5-10 years,” he adds.
There is a clear vision in IndiaMART’s acquisitions. While return on investments may fructify in the long term, the immediate advantage is the stickiness it can offer its customer base that is the target audience of the startups it is investing in, the unnamed i-banker opines.
IndiaMART has a large market opportunity, with more than 63 million registered medium and small size enterprises(MSMEs) and more than 12 million GST registered businesses in the country, as of August 2021.
These investments, in turn, fall in line with IndiaMART’s long-term vision of providing a holistic ecosystem for all business needs. This involves a collaborative and integrated ecosystem for finance and accounting, payroll, attendance and HR management modules, logistic companies among others.
“We tried to see if there are possible synergies that can emerge over the next 3-5 years, so that we can go deeper and also get higher sales and higher market penetration for IndiaMART in the digital accounting ecosystem,” Dinesh adds.
The broader vision involves offering a bundled service for sellers — inventory management, order management, accounting, invoicing, receivables management, tax compliance, distribution management as basic functions on the company’s store.
“At the same time, we want to empower them to have a better store at IndiaMART with better SKUs (stock keeping unit),” says Dinesh.
The larger startup ecosystem is constantly innovating and the startups in IndiaMART’s portfolio could be its armoury of sorts to future-proof its business, as well as define stronger moat, the i-banker adds.
Some of these acquisitions such as Shipway, EasyEcom, Fleetx are due to the emerging opportunities in the growing direct-to-consumer (D2C) and e-commerce segments. For context, according to IBEF, India’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to $111.40 billion by 2025, up from $46.2 billion in 2020.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, “our entire focus was on cost optimization and home migration” Dinesh recalls.
And it has worked.
In FY 2021, IndiaMART reported revenue from operations of Rs 669.6 crore, growing 5 percent on a yearly basis.
It was in December 2020- January 2021 that the company started looking at inorganic growth opportunities.
By this time, MSMEs were already adopting technology use, forced by months of lockdown earlier, and online GST payments mandates. Already, their next generation of owners is technology savvy.
The company’s management is keen on using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, which could benefit these small businesses and help them grow. It is aiming to improve engagement through fintech, SaaS, and vertical commerce.
Added to that, Dinesh says, “MSMEs trust IndiaMART for the products that we have been facilitating for them over the years. So, when we go to them with another offering, they are more likely to trust IndiaMART, with the product and distribution system.”
Of all its investments, accounting software company Busy Infotech was a significant one, with IndiaMART paying about Rs 500 crore for fully acquiring it.
The New-Delhi-based company, with a presence across India, incorporated in 1997, is profitable. In FY21, Busy Infotech reported revenue of Rs 42.4 crore and a profit after tax of Rs 11 crore — an enviable net profit margin of nearly 26 percent.
“Lakhs of Indian businesses rely on Busy Accounting Software for their accounting needs, and the value proposition fits in well with IndiaMART’s long term objective of making doing business easy for Indian businesses,” Dinesh said at the time of the acquisition.
Earlier this month, IndiaMART bought a minority stake in cloud-based accounting software Realbooks, which enables businesses to create customized invoices, attach files to vouchers, and manage their inventory.
IndiaMART extended its holding in mobile-based self-accounting software Simply Vyapaar in January 2022 to 27 percent, putting in another Rs 61.55 crore in Series B round, added to the Rs 31.2 crore it had invested in September 2019, for a 26 percent stake.
With Shipway, SuperProcure, and Fleetx, IndiaMART is offering SaaS solutions for logistics, an industry that can benefit more from the Internet of Things-enabled applications and data.
“Supply Chain Visibility (SCV) is a critical yet underserved problem faced by Indian businesses and fleet owners,” Dinesh says.
It invested Rs 91.42 crore for a 16.53 percent stake in Fleetx, which provides freight and fleet management software for fleet operators and businesses to digitize their logistics operations. It provides them visibility of vehicles and related IoT-based analytics services.
IndiaMART invested another Rs 18.2 crore in Shipway for a 26 percent stake, and Rs 10.4 crore in SuperPorcure for a 25 percent stake.
SuperProcure is a SaaS-based platform, which helps digitize the entire freight sourcing by finding the best possible rates through a transparent bidding and auction structure, while Shipway develops SaaS-based solutions that allow small businesses to automate their shipping operations.
With the B2B commerce space heating up with unicorns like Udaan, Moglix among others, IndiaMART is also strengthening its e-commerce play.
It invested Rs 104.2 crore in Japanese e-commerce player IB MonotaRO (IMPL) and Rs 13.35 crore in EasyEcom.
While it may have been tempting for IndiaMART to back in-house solutions to facilitate the digital migration of MSMEs during the pandemic, it instead has chosen to back startups that are already solving distinct problems for the same market — and have skin in the game.
And that’s given rise to IndiaMART, the strategic investor, beyond its growth as a standalone business.
However, even with more than Rs 900 crore in investments in the last year, IndiaMART’s share price has been falling. Its share price has plummeted by 48 percent — almost half of Rs 8,608 to Rs 4,471 on March 16.
However, some analysts are hopeful. Axis Securities have set a target price of Rs 6,800/share.
In a report dated March 14, 2022, analysts at Axis Securities said with “a resilient business structure from a long-term perspective, supported by multiple verticals and higher penetrations in the rural areas of the country,” IndiaMART is well-positioned to capture the immense growth opportunity.
“Its robust technology backup supporting business platform, strong and consistent traffic improvement and margin tailwinds driven by cost efficiencies, lower input costs, and higher realisation, and healthy cash flow generation and acquisition strategy for inorganic growth,” is helping drive growth, the report said.
Clearly, while IndiaMART has consistently outperformed the broader S&P BSE 500, its market capitalization does not capture the upside of its acquisition spree.