एक बॉस जिससे कोई कर्मचारी खौफ नहीं खाता| क्यों? क्योकि आज तक उन्होंने किसी को निकला नहीं| उनके सहकर्मी उन्हें डीए के नाम से सम्बोधित करते हैं| जी हाँ, छोटा सा यही परिचय हैं ऑनलाइन कारोबार करने वाली कंपनी ‘इंडियामार्ट’ के संस्थापक 46 वर्षीय दिनेश अग्रवाल का| पेश है, उनसे संजीव कुमार झा की बातचीत के अंश…
“IndiaMART is the Google for business needs” – Sirin Sam, Head-Marketing & Communications, Finolex Industries.
Finolex is India’s leading manufacturer of PVC-U Pipes & Fittings. The company’s pipes & fittings are available in a vast range of sizes, pressure classes and diameters for agriculture, housing and industrial applications.
“Over the years, my business model was channel driven but we have recently realised the importance of going online. It was a humongous change for us as an organisation but the hand-holding by IndiaMART was great. We are able to reach a much wider audience base through IndiaMART then we could have reached with any other platform,” said Sirin.
“If I have to draw a parallel of IndiaMART then it is Google. We’ve increased our investment with IndiaMART due to the phenomenal response that we have received. I will give IndiaMART a 10 on 10,” he added.
For more information, read the case study here
“IndiaMART is the perfect platform to tap the new age consumers and acquire new customers! ” – Sorabh Agarwal, Executive Director – Action Construction Equipment Ltd.
Action Construction Equipment Ltd. India’s Largest manufacturers of Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes. Other product range also includes Forklifts, Loaders, Vibratory Rollers, Truck cranes, Crawler Cranes and Agri Machinery.
“Traditionally business happened one-on-one but soon we realised that the world is changing and we have to move online. We unanimously agreed to go ahead with IndiaMART. We’re getting some good number of enquiries, the good part is that now the enquiries are coming from new customers,” said Sorabh.
“The team is responsive and supportive. I would rate IndiaMART at least 9 out of 10,” he added.
For more information, read the case study here
As venture capital slows down, early-stage entrepreneurs and those looking to do something on their own are likely to turn wary. But anybody who studies entrepreneurship will likely find that passion and patience have inevitably trumped money in determining the success of a venture. Money is often a catalyst. But there are also some who think venture funding is a bane, that ultimately, success is more about you and the problem you are trying to solve.
Timing the VC entry
Some took funding many years after their founding, and when they felt the money would help them address a particular business opportunity quickly. IndiaMart, the online marketplace that assists manufacturers, suppliers & exporters to trade with each other, did so when it found the domestic market growing rapidly. The company, founded in April 1996, was for a long time focused on the export market. “In the late 1990s and early 2000s, net penetration in India was not great. But from 2008, the domestic business started to outgrow the export business,” says founder & CEO Dinesh Agarwal. At that point, IndiaMart raised funds from Intel Capital. It later raised money also from Amadeus Capital, Quona Capital, Westbridge Capital, and BCCL, publishers of The Times of India.
“In the past 8 weeks, we have been receiving at least 25 enquiries per week and as many leads” – Yagnesh Buch, DGM Marketing and Corp Comm., KSB Pumps Ltd.
KSB, is a German multinational engaged in manufacturing & sale of centrifugal pumps, high pressure multistage pumps, submersible & monobloc pumps, Industrial GGC valves for Energy, Oil, Industry, Water, Waste Water and Construction segments.
KSB Pumps realised that the customers today are online and hence felt the need of taking there on the internet. “The fastest method for a buyer to discover a seller or a vendor is through the internet. IndiaMART fitted the bill because it allowed online discovery and offline assistance,” he said.
“I would rate them as high as 8 – 8.5 for their promptness. Kudos to team IndiaMART,” he added.
For more information, read the case study here.
IndiaMART, India’s largest online marketplace has announced its entry in the payments space to enable over 3 million sellers on its platform. Addressing the bottleneck of trust deficit for the SMEs, the company has launched its buyer and seller protection program which will enable the sellers to remain free from the concern of payment risk, and assure the buyers that they will receive exactly the product or service they expect before the payment is made.
For any marketplace, effective payment facilitation is the most aligned service as it facilitates the purchase cycle. And with more than 14 million monthly business enquiries being generated from around 35 million registered buyers, it made sense for the company to offer a service that can help buyers and sellers to safeguard their business deals.
Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of IndiaMART said, “Bottlenecks like trust deficit & lack of credit continue to hold back the growth potential of our SMEs. Being at the convergence of e-commerce, payments and finance we have a larger plan to address these areas and this is the first step under the umbrella of initiatives like escrow services, payment gateway, invoicing and receivables management and SME financing. There are more than 50 million SMEs in India and our vision is to enable ease of doing business for them. With this buyer & seller protection program, we are taking our first step in that direction.”
The company launched the pilot project in January 2017 and has seen a week-on-week growth of 100%. More than 10,000 buyers and suppliers have already registered for it. The company has partnered with ICICI Bank for providing RBI approved escrow account management service.
This is not the first time that the company has ventured into payment solutions. The marketplace had launched ABCpayments.com in 2005 when it was an export oriented platform. “In 2009, we pivoted towards the domestic marketplace model and after achieving scale for 5 years we again decided to work towards payment facilitation. After bringing Lizzie Chapman, Co-Founder & CEO of Zest Money, who was then the Executive Director of DBS Digital Bank, on our board, we were looking for like-minded partners. That’s when we managed to get support from Quona Capital that invests in financial technology space. With such experience, we are thus very well placed in venturing into payment facilitation. We facilitate business worth INR 500 Billion. Payment solutions have the potential to double our GMV as it will enhance customer satisfaction and thus increase stickiness on our platform” Dinesh added.
In 2014 realizing the efficiency in the online payments system, IndiaMART developed its own robust payment platform (pay.indiamart.com) to collect the subscription amount from its paid customers. “More than 90% of our revenue and 60% of the transactions are through online payment modes which were earlier through cheques.” shared Dinesh. These numbers depict the changing SME mindset and the growing acceptance for the digital payments among Indian SMEs which prompted IndiaMART to foray in payment facilitation.
Mumbai, March 25, 2017: IndiaMART, India’s largest online marketplace connecting buyers and sellers recently organized its high-impact immersive discussion forum for SMEs, IndiaMART Emerging Business Forum at Mumbai. The highly acclaimed forum had a riveting discussion on Government of India’s recently administered and the much-talked about GST model and ways to streamline its implementation for SMEs, encouraging them to register for the unified tax structure. The Mumbai Chapter of the forum was preceded by the success of the event in 12 different countries like Kolkata, Indore and Chandigarh.
Madhup Agrawal, Sr. Vice President, IndiaMART said, “SMEs and Startups are quite anxious about the effects of GST implementation and are facing an extremely challenging economic environment. They have 90 days to prepare themselves for the changes. Though it requires a lot of technology and policy upgradation but the fact that it is going to result in an expected 1-2% growth in GDP is a positive sign. ”
India is a global manufacturing hub and SMEs form around 90% of the industrial units in the country. By implementing the single tax structure, many of these businesses will be able to enjoy reduced costs of operations and ease of trading, thereby becoming more competitive. This will bring in faster economic growth for the country. However, the impact of the revolutionary GST rollout on SMEs may vary across various industries and from state to state.
The Mumbai edition of IndiaMART’s on-going Emerging Business Forum ended on a promising note with experts helping SMEs understand how to prepare for the change and coming to a mutual conclusion that GST’s effect on the entire Indian economy will have to be thoroughly scrutinized to reach a wider acceptance among the SMEs.
Other speakers at the event included Alok Agarwal, Chairman & Managing Director, Alankit; Praveen
Khandelwal; General Secretary, CIAT; Col. Pankaj Dikshit, Sr. VP, GSTN.
Prior to founding the well acclaimed website, IndiaMART; one of India’s first web based marketplace for businesses, Dinesh Agarwal was working with HCL Technologies in the US. The concept of the internet had made a huge impression on him while he was still in HCL, and after the government announced the launch of the internet to the public in 1995, he realized the potential it had and immediately flew back to India. Energized to rekindle his entrepreneurial instincts, Dinesh wasted no time in using the internet to bring small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) together by creating IndiaMART.
Although a pioneer in India to establish an online marketplace for SMEs, the web giant did go through some hardships before being the flawless brand that it is today. As the new millennium approached, emerging online companies were heavily getting funded, clubbed with weak foresight and monetization; burst the bubble that IndiaMART was sitting on. Having to cope with the hit on their sales, Dinesh had to relearn everything and had to start from square one yet again. Back on their feet once again, the entrepreneur had bought a new office and had planned to scale their operations. The rehabilitation however, took a hit yet again after the 9/11 attacks. More that 40% of IndiaMART’s revenue came from the travel division, and because of the impacts of the world trade attack, their operations almost came to a standstill.
Hard work and perseverance is what helped Dinesh overcome these obstacles that were thrown at him. Looking and the positives and fighting through the adversity is what helped him regain control of his business. He simply says, “There’s always the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.” Although the internet was widely being used by now, resulting in
lower profit margins for IndiaMART, Dinesh coped with the competition through higher volumes of work. This fiery and aggressive entrepreneurial attitude eventually led IndiaMART to overcome the obstacles that were thrown at them and emerged profitable as well.
Running a lucrative business as a successful entrepreneur has given Dinesh a new outlook towards life. IndiaMART had started from the bottom and sheer determination and belief is what made the business what it is today. The struggle one goes through to create a business helps recreate one’s character too. He says that he sees opportunity in everything that surrounds him and entrepreneurship has made him more adaptable towards change. He goes on to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, likewise we kept laying bricks every hour and waited for the good times to come.”
As a role model for many budding entrepreneurs, Dinesh has some vital information to pass on to the coming generations. Starting a company is not a cake walk, and one must not start-up just because it’s cool, he says. There is a lot of responsibility an entrepreneur must undertake and if the reason to start a company is not strong enough, the barriers and hardships can break an entrepreneur. Dinesh himself had to go through several failures before becoming successful, but he feels that an entrepreneur has a 100% chance of succeeding. He says, “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 at succeeding becomes 100%.” Since Dinesh has achieved the pinnacle of success in business by making wise, bold decisions, it would only benefit to take his advice seriously.
Though many people consider B2B business model a new trend which has emerged only in the past few years, very few know that IndiaMart had captured the segment long before it caught the attention of the 20s entrepreneurs of today. We caught up with the founder and CEO of the company, Dinesh Agarwal to know more about his company and its future plans.
IndiaMart entered the B2B market in 1996, long before Internet became a common term in India. Things were much different back then. Mr. Agarwal explains, “When we started IndiaMART it was a very different scenario. Change was yet to become a constant with technology infusion. The virtual world was still to disrupt our lives as inclusively as it does today. It was still up for aspirations and experiments, far drawn away from the essentials we know now — speed, accuracy and relevance. Search was yet to become an engine of our lives. Back in 1996, a customer just wanted his needs to be fulfilled but today a customer expects much more.”
While today’s companies have a lot of aid to start their business, including government support and venture capitalists, back in the 1990s, the scenario was not the same. The LPG reforms of 1991 gave a major push to IndiaMart. He reveals the hard times the company had in the beginning,
“IndiaMART was started out of nothing in the mid-Nineties. Nothing but the belief that the Economic Liberalisation in 1991 had a long way to go for nobodies like us, then, to get on board, realise the opportunities, innovate and deliver. When we began, we just didn’t have the money to match up to the ‘big’ requirements of the Indian market. At the same time, at the core of our idea was the belief that we needed to start something for the ‘small’. That was our opportunity!”
Believe it or not, Dinesh Agarwal had different ideas than launching a B2B business. “When I began,I wanted to set up an Internet Service Provider but Indian norms did not allow private participation,” tells Agarwal. But soon, he changed his plans. He shares with us, “But, with the money we could gather and the need within the SME sector to explore bigger buyer bases in India as well as abroad, we began making websites for them. Despite low internet penetration, we broke even in the first year of operation. This bore testimony to steps in the right direction.”
The initial years saw Dinesh and his cousin Brijesh working double shift as techies and salesmen to launch their business. Dinesh opened up about his initial days of setting up IndiaMart, “We, my cousin Brijesh and I, were salesmen during the day and techies at night, shaping the value-added services we sold, creating sites, designing and maintaining them. Soon we realised that our website business could be developed into a marketplace model. Initially, our operations were directed towards global markets, but later on around 2008-09 we realized the opportunities in the burgeoning Indian market and since then we have been focusing on domestic business.”
Almost all businesses today are based upon the kind of angel investment they manage to get from the investors. This glamorised business cycle has attracted thousands of youngsters and led to them trying their hands entrepreneurship. However, raising funds wasn’t as easy as today in 1996 when the idea of IndiaMart was first mooted. Even when the offers came, the founders were too sceptical to accept them. Hence, most of the investment came only from the earning of the founders.
Mr. Agarwal lets us in on the initial financial model of IndiaMart, “IndiaMART is built on pillars of self-sustenance and convictions. Initially, we began with what we had and then pumped in a major portion of what we earned. At the core of our idea was the opportunity to work for the small-scale industry and help them identify bigger buyer bases in India as well as abroad. Initially, we used to make websites for them.
Not only did a website enhance an SME’s presence beyond geographical barriers, but was slick, smart and a ‘now’ proposition. This was a revenue generation model and served us well to return the earnings to the business. Perhaps we are the only company in the Indian business horizon that bootstrapped for more than a decade, from 1996 till 2008. And survived, be it the Y2K, dotcom bust or global meltdown. I remember being approached by numerous investors and venture capitalists during my early days and we would politely decline considering this to be a loan.
Funding wasn’t so common as it is now. I believe investments are made only after the cheques come in. Once we were on solid ground with a sound business proposition, entities such as Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd and Intel Capital reposed faith in us, then came others including Amadeus Capital, WestBridge Capital and Quona Capital to lend their support to us in terms of funding.”
After making it big all alone, Dinesh Agarwal wants to help other companies realize their true potential and has been looking for investment opportunities and has even invested in a few firms. We asked about what he sees in a firm before investing. He replied, “We have had history of enabling the eco-system. IndiaMART has been working with small and medium enterprises and some large businesses. We like to work focused companies, howsoever niche its products, segments or services be. It makes sense to partner with companies who are niche driven and still evolving.
What we look with much interest are the inherent values of any funding experience, how it will help evolve the ecosystem. A financial investor may not be very keen on funding a niche product or niche services, but larger companies will find a business proposition as Google invested in Uber cabs. Even IndiaMART is looking at companies in the B2B or SME space.
The pure financial investor may not look upon it as an opportunity. One benefit of partnering with established companies is access to their network. For a startup, a partnership with an established player like us gives it access to an enhanced network, experience and technology platform. We are backed by experience of the industry and know the nuts and bolts. We have the ability to provide a sense of a real-life situation and ground reality.”
One of the things that IndiaMart is best known for is the concept of trust seal and its application in the SME. We wanted to know a bit more about this concept and he obliged. “We have a pioneering role in establishing a single-window, transparent mode for businesses to happen. IndiaMART has a unique score card, based on the availability of a company’s documents, such as the registration certificate, partnership deed, PAN (Permanent Account Number), Import Export Code (IEC), Registration with Shops and Establishment Act, PF/ESI Registration and many such similar documents. If a business scored the minimum qualifying score on this formula, it is eligible for IndiaMART TrustSEAL,” we were told.
Though it is over 3 decades old, IndiaMart has ensured that it remains up to date with the latest technology. The company has adopted SMAC technology rather well for its use. Mr. Agarwal tells us,
“We have always been excited about mobile as the technology because we get location, access to the user’s address book and photo gallery. That’s how the IndiaMART experience is seamless and platform agnostic. Our strategy has been to cater to users as per their preferences – be it the desktop, WAP or App. All these users have different requirements too and completely co-exist with IndiaMART.
SMAC has been at the core of business innovation – a crucible for social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies, together. For IndiaMART, growth is driven by an ecosystem that continuously improves and innovates upon operations in order to bring the customer closer to our offerings, without additional scale-up cost. Data – structured or unstructured – is the key. IndiaMART thrives on the synergy therein, created by social, mobile, analytics and cloud working. Together, the synergy gives IndiaMART the pioneering spirit and a definite edge. Our growth is the result of the convergence, a disruptive force.”
His new venture, Tolexo.com has gained as much limelight as IndiaMart, if not more. We requested him to tell us a bit more about that. He obliged by saying, “IndiaMART has been ostensibly focused on helping in the growth, development, networking and integration of small and medium-sized enterprises. The IndiaMART platform is essentially a platform for connecting buyers and suppliers. The buyers then shortlist the entities of their choice, do business with the sellers they want to.
We felt we can further the SME buyers and sellers’ interests and growth if we had the wherewithal to not only provide the connectivity but also help in order placement and product purchase. Thus, Tolexo was born, They are often not able to invest in people or brands. Tolexo Helps build their brands as it functions as a review platform too. Sellers list their products on Tolexo for users to compare prices and reviews, and buy online. The business model does not have a listing fee, just a percentage of the actual sales made. Tolexo also takes care of the user experience after the sales until the product is delivered.”
Before we concluded our insightful conversation, we requested him to share his views about Brainbuxa. Here is what he had to say – “We have had online businesses and services till now. With its ability to integrate the social and the educational, BrainBuxa provide at-a-glance real-time advantage on blogs, forums and updates. BrainBuxa has the ability to develop into a go-to information portal that not only brings together Wikipedia, Quora, Reddit, Newsvine, Digg Etc, but also go beyond. The portal must set a course to be disruptive to dominate the space.”