Technology is the core of SME innovation: Emerging Business Forum

  • 6th edition of IndiaMART’s annual SME meet kickstarts in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad, August 6, 2016: India is a market of opportunities, and entrepreneurs need to innovate 360-degrees; not just in products, processes and designs but also in execution. Within this, technology supports new and emerging businesses with proven methodology and tools to put their best innovative foot forward.

This was the conclusion of the inaugural leg of IndiaMART’s 6th Edition of Emerging Business Forum (EBF), held in Ahmedabad. The EBF is an annual ideas and knowledge exchange programme for SMEs conducted by IndiaMART, India’s largest online marketplace connecting buyers and suppliers, in association with ZEE Business. Starting its 6th edition from Ahmedabad, the Forum will go to 13 cities pan- India like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Jaipur, Indore, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Surat, Pune, Hyderabad and Ludhiana.

With Business Innovation at its core, the Ahmedabad meet – attended by 200+SMEs — flagged off a series of multi-city exchange programme celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship of the Makers of India – the  MSMEs.

Dinesh Gulati, Director, IndiaMART, said, “IndiaMART has been playing a pivotal role in engaging MSMEs / SMEs of the country through its market place as well as various other on-line and off- line initiatives and EBF happens to be one of the key initiatives in that direction only. In the past 5 seasons of Emerging Business Forum, we have travelled across the country to interact with more than 50,000 SMEs and gave them a platform to interact with various industry leaders, successful entrepreneurs, policy makers and financial institutes. Business Innovation is a key factor to leverage many new entrepreneurial ventures and SMEs to the centre stage in India’s growth story. They are already on their way to become potential market leaders – some of them have even joined the ‘Blue Chip’ club within 3-7 years of their beginning. Technology has become an integral building block for most of these successful companies. They show that much more can be achieved given that MSMEs contribute 22% of GDP in spite of the fact that almost 45% of Indian manufacturing has its base among the emerging and small businesses. At IndiaMART we are sure that encouraging innovation along with their entrepreneurial spirit is the key to emerging businesses raising the bar for themselves.”

The speakers of the session included Mr Madhup Agrawal, Sr. Vice President IndiaMART, Mr Pradyumna Vyas, Director, National Institute of Design, and Mr Shailesh Patwari, President GCCI, among others. The stalwarts of the Industry shared their insights on the National and the Gujarat SME ecosystem.

Gujarat has long been referred to as the ‘Land of Entrepreneurs’ given Gujaratis’ business prowess and zeal. The state has been among the foremost to ensure a robust SME sector supported by excellent technical skills, expertise, business-friendly eco-system and proactive government initiatives. Such ground-level advantages have led to highly productive units within. A large number of manufacturing units in Gujarati are now being run by entrepreneur-turned-technocrats successfully catering to the global market. E-commerce has also helped SMEs go beyond the state’s boundaries.

Experts at the EBF highlighted Gujarat opting for progressive commercial models such as Cluster-Based Development Programme. The state has identified 76 manufacturing sectors to invest in where MSMEs have ready and active participation. This will not only ensure a robust manufacturing base within the geography but also encourage cross-vertical participation from the state business community.

The Ahmedabad EBF session specially stressed upon digitization to augment SMEs role in India’s growth. In order to be competitive, SMEs need to integrate technology in their businesses to keep pace with market trends, negotiate and improve overall operations, the participants said.

Read the coverages here.

Emerging Business Forum Season 6 – Ahmedabad


Online B2B firms continue to lure venture capital

Financial Express

FC Page 10

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Every team member adds to your startup culture

Times of India

IndiaMART in TOI

How Dinesh Agarwal built the Alibaba of India


It was in 1996 that Dinesh Agarwal started to write the names and addresses of small businesses from his apartment in East Delhi. His wife and parents would help in the stamping and sealing of the thousands of envelopes that would be sent across India.

Dinesh would then go to the post office and deposit those huge bundles of envelopes in the mail. About 2 percent would post back with their contact details, phone numbers, business details. He would then list them on a website he built.

That’s how India’s largest business listings website Indiamart began. He managed to get 100 paying clients on board during 1997-1998. The company now has about 1.8 million suppliers on its platform and about 100,000 paying customers.

From Indian railways to exam paper checking

Dinesh had earlier worked at a government-owned IT corporation in the early 90s. He was posted at the New Delhi Railway Station where he would oversee the freshly introduced computerized reservations system.

Getting to know real-time availability was a huge task which technology solved. The success led to a computer revolution even in telecoms where manual exchanges were replaced with automatic telephone interconnect systems, leading to fewer cross connections and higher chances of getting a call through.

He was also tasked by another government agency to work on a technology that would ease paper checking for government exams.

Dinesh correctly realized that the internet would soon change the world. So he decided to return back to India in 1995 to turn an entrepreneur.

“I come from a business family and had saved some money to sustain the business and household,” says Dinesh.

Surviving the dot-com bust

Dinesh, an engineer with HCL in his US stint from 1992 to 1995, got back to India just as the internet was being born.

Everyone was opening a dot-com. And there was a flush of money through venture capital, a game we did not understand.

He returned with a passion to build small websites – and to build a useful database.

He started scanning directory books of the Federation of Indian Exporters and government data to get the names of businesses in sectors like garments, handicrafts, spices, gems, and jewellery.

“Everyone was opening a dot-com. And there was a heavy flush of money through venture capital, a game we did not understand,” says Dinesh, sitting at the 13th floor of his Greater Noida-based office, which overlooks lush green farmlands away from the buzz of nearby Delhi.

Meanwhile, Jack Ma had already started Alibaba in China.

Soon, the bubble burst and lot of dot-coms around the world shut down. Dinesh is known in India as one of the few survivors. ”Dot-com became a bad word. And we became untouchables by prospective clients, employees, even media,” he says.

The September 11 attacks made things worse. Global exporters shrunk, leading some clients to stop renewing their pricey subscriptions to the store.

“We did not fire even one person. And about 50 early employees still work with us,” he says.

Indiamart evolved from simple listings to become a business supply store – like Ma’s Alibaba in China. It survived the crashes and busts and managed to reach 1,000 paying customers in 2001, which paid about US$1,000 per listing. He also cut a lot of costs and froze salary hikes for some months to get past the downturn.

In 2008, Indiamart took the first investment money from Intel Capital to the tune of about US$10 million. And it opened 16 new offices. “For the first time we were spending money and in the next quarter we posted a loss,” he says, indicating at the current models of ecommerce which run on losses and external money. In 2009, the company crossed 14,000 paying customers.

Since then Indiamart has remained cash positive.

Shifting from the big city

The company has moved away from the city to near Greater Noida, which is mostly farmlands surrounded by a few residential buildings. Over 80 percent of its staff travels from New Delhi or Noida to the office. Indiamart arranges pick-and-drop facilities for employees who live in New Delhi or adjoining areas.

“Productivity increases when you move to a cleaner and peaceful environment. Yes, commute time may increase by a few minutes but then people leave early leading to a better work-life balance,” tells Dinesh, who hails from the small town of Nanpara, near the Nepal border. His family owns a gas station there.

From the New Delhi city centre, the commute to the new office takes about one hour. Dinesh is not worried about the distance as he has not seen a lot of staff quit since the shift. He’s also keen to make Indiamart’s offices look as cool as the other startups.

Ecommerce and beyond

From 1,000 listed customers in 1999 to about 1 million suppliers listed in 2016, IndiaMart has come a long way.

“There are around 10 million requests for quotations being generated on our platform each month,” says Dinesh. He has gotten smarter and put a payment barrier between a listed supplier and an interested buyer.

“This has removed a lot of spam too. Earlier, insurance companies, loan companies, even other websites would just pick data from our platform and list on their site,” he says.

Now it’s an IndiaMart call center which comes between the supplier and buyer. The call center brokers the deal and provides relevant quotes to buyers.

The company also started Tolexo, a marketplace for industrial goods. IndiaMart earlier this year raised a series C round of an estimated US$19.4 million from investors led by Amadeus Capital, and followed by Westbridge, UK based Quona Capital and existing investor Intel Capital.

The fresh funds will largely be used for Tolexo, which is run by Brijesh Aggarwal, a cousin of Dinesh’s.

The company grossed more than US$45 million last year and this year is targeting an over 33 percent growth.

The firm is also looking beyond ecommerce. Indiamart has invested in ProcMart and plans to float easy financing schemes for small and medium-sized businesses in India.

Does he fear the arrival of Alibaba, Shopclues, AskmeBazaar and others in the business-to-business market? “India is a big market and we are not worried. Let them enter,” he says, though I get the feeling the pressure to deal with such names always looms large in his mind.

And does he fear the verticalization in ecommerce – like a marketplace just for auto parts, or industrial tools, or chemicals? “Both will co-exist,” he states.

Tips to handle failure

Dinesh has also become an active investor in startups, participating in about 30 deals through consortiums. Bangalore-based Little Eye Labs, which got sold to Facebook, was one of his big exits.

Having started dozens of projects and closed them, he offers some tips for entrepreneurs on failure:

  1. “I believe an entrepreneur has a 100 percent chance of succeeding in life. Everyone I think is born with at least 20 percent of luck. But you will have multiple failures in life. So if you try only once, the chance of success becomes zero. But if you try it five times, your luck at succeeding at it become 100 percent.”
  2. “Don’t do a startup just because it is cool. A startup is a big responsibility. You will have to take care of employees, customers. Raising money should not become the end of it all.”
  3. “For every one success, I have had 40 to 50 failures. Over time my theory has become very simple. If the experiment or project is not even contributing 1 percent to the revenue, it’s best to shut it down and move on.”

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IndiaMART to raise Rs 100 crore to expand, acquire start-ups

Business Standard, which has been focusing on business to business offerings to small and medium enterpreneurs, is looking to raise more than Rs 100 crore next year to expand its offerings to large companies and new areas of business.

The company is also considering investing in start-ups in related segments such as fintech and logistics to speed up its expansion, said Dinesh Agarwal, founder and CEO, IndiaMART.

The company has raised over Rs 100 crore recently, in a series C funding led by Amadeus Capital with participation from Westbridge Capital, Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund managed by Quota Capital.

The money will be used for investments into expansion of its business offerings to areas which could benefit the company’s customers, including acquiring stake in start-ups that have related operations.

The investment will also go into its retail online platform, which offers materials required for micro and small industry in small quantities.

Recently, the company has invested in ProcMart, a business to business market place which helps the buyers to get connected with suitable sellers and a step ahead, to get the best three quotations on which they can take a decision on, in a pre-series A funding.

While it has been focusing on small and medium industries earlier, it has identified that large scale companies also connect to its platform for purchases and has started addressing the big buyers with a focus on them. The company would be looking for another fund raising next year, to take its plans further.

It claims that around 20 million buyers access to three million suppliers through the platform for their business requirements. It has around 100,000 paid customers and expertise into 80,000 product categories.

It has posted a revenue of around Rs 300 crore with a growth of 42 per cent growth from previous year. It is aiming at increasing the revenue to over Rs 2000 crore by 2020, said Agarwal.

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This 20 Year Old Ecommerce Company Is Perfect For The Young-At-Heart

B2B businesses were usually deemed to be dull and boring, and one seldom hears much about their offices or work culture. IndiaMart however is different. This 20 year old marketplace for suppliers, manufacturers and exporters believes in being a “people first” company. Their fun and colourful office and an employee-centric perks system represents that philosophy well.

The ecommerce company has over 1000 employees, across departments like product, tech, development and operations who work out of this Noida office.

IndiaMART office

The company organises various fun activities throughout the year to keep the employees happy and engaged.

IndiaMART office1

The employees get subsidized lunch, and free snacks are available round the clock.

IndiaMART office2

The walls in the company are done up with fun graffiti and doodles, belying the age of the company.

IndiaMART office3

The superhero wall murals represent the superhero employees of the company.

IndiaMART office4

IndiaMART office5

The company houses various hobby clubs around dance, music, photography and athletics.

IndiaMART office6

The employees get free shuttles till the nearest metro stop and discounted cab rides to their homes.

IndiaMart may not be a young startup anymore, but happening it sure is.

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Digital Marketing: Exploring Possibilities In The Business World

City Bhaskar

City Bhaskar

What Indian Brands Are Up To This Father’s Day

Ad Age India

IndiaMART- In collaboration with Bang in the Middle, the campaign #CarryTheLegacy, highlights the successive generations carrying on their father’s legacy and inheriting the responsibilities of their business from the Head of the Family. Thoughtfully capturing the father-child bond, the video film showcases various signboards of various businesses with ‘& Sons/Daughters’ written on them who carried forward the legacy of their father and ancestors. Shot across various brick and mortar marketplaces, the campaign hopes to strike a chord with the audience and make them realize the importance of their father in their lives.


Koramangala startups add a flavour to Father’s day

Economic Times

Observed on third Sunday of June, Father’s day has a special relevance worldwide to recognize the contribution of fathers and father figures in the making of their children’s lives. The day celebrates fatherhood and male-parenting. As the trend picks up, the celebration which started from the US in 1960s is now being widely celebrated in our country too. The day to celebrate the father-daughter or Father-son relationships has reached new heights with a number of startups bringing-in new ideas and flavours to make it a more special and memorable one.

Koramangala- based startup Giftxoxo, which is into a very different business of gifting experiences, has come up with unique experiences for Father’s Day like Go Golfing with Father, Poolside Dinner with Dad, City tour on Harley with Dad, Tandem Parasailing with Dad, Motion sensor gaming with Dad and more. Manoj Agarwal, Co-Founder of Giftxoxo said that the initiative has seen a very encouraging response so far.

He informed that even the customers are suggesting what kind of experiences they would want with Giftxoxo. He said, “Our venture has vision of enriching lives of people through memorable experiences. Following the same vision we want to focus on how we can make this day special for a father and son/daughter. We would want to give an opportunity to all son and daughters to show the love for their first super hero, Dad.

Many people today migrate to metro cities for earning and their parents remain in other cities. Imagine that a daughter sending their father an amazing dinner on Father’s Day, it is gonna be so emotional and memorable. That is what we are making feasible”. The startup is also planning events around Father’s day. Agarwal said, “We have tied up with few partners like Shopper’s Stop, Raymonds, Florista and more to do few events for their customers. We are also planning a surprise for our employee’s Fathers and also for employees who are father. This we would reveal after Father’s Day”.

Another Bengaluru-based online shopping platform Voonik is running a week-long campaign on Voonik; Mr Voonik for its customers. Campaign is designed around gifting. “Many of our sellers have put our special collections for top gift categories such as watches, wallets, etc. These special collections are getting a lot of traction, even though there is no special discount offer on these”, said, .Sujayath Ali, Co-Founder, Voonik.

“Father’s day campaigns are doing good, there is a lot of traction on social media and our App and web platforms. Major categories that are getting sold are wrist watches and formal shirts. The objective of this campaign is to increase Brand awareness for Mr Voonik. Our organic reach has increased and social media platforms are abuzz” he added. Not only are there gifting options, but also campaigns are being run to honour the fathers., India’s leading financial marketplace, in a bid to pay an ode to fathers as the first port of call in a person’s financial decision making unveiled its first thematic digital advertising campaign ‘ThankYouDad’. The campaign is a tribute to all fathers who, with their advice and example, have instilled the habit of financial planning and savings in their children.

Fathers are the first person who taught the first lessons on financial planning and everyone turn to their father for all kinds of financial advice. The campaign is based on this insight. From the very first time we thought about saving to the first time we filed our taxes, fathers have been there to lead us through the complex financial maze. The brand, with this campaign, intends to strike a chord with the online generation in the age group of 25-40.

While describing the concept, Prince Thomas – Head Brand Marketing at said -“The 25+ generation emerged at a time when families were still a closely-knit unit, disposable money was hard to come by, and fathers were the only gatekeepers of the money inflow and outflow.

The campaign highlights how this generation has all grown up but not away from the teachings of their fathers, who have always had the best interests of their children in mind” Speaking about the idea of keeping the campaign digital, Adhil Shetty, CEO,, said: “As a FinTech company, the online space and the digital media are our arena.

We wanted to connect with our consumers in their own space, and social mediacan help us do this excellently. We selected Father’s Day for our campaign because it is the perfect time to honour the first man who taught us about the value of money- a concept that forms the core of everything we do at” The new digital advertising campaign came live on June 15.

While Indiamart launched a different digital campaign #CarryTheLegacy celebrating the occasion of Father’s Day. The campaign is a reflection of successive generations carrying on their father’s legacy and inheriting the responsibilities of their business from the Head of the Family. IndiaMART, is India’s largest online marketplace that connects buyers with suppliers.