TM. What are your experiences of being a successful Internet entrepreneur?
HO. When we started 10 years back we did not know how big the
Internet business could become. We entered into the market as
a start up with a single website. We were doing Rupees one or
two Lakhs of monthly turnover, when we got funding from ICICI
Bank. At that point in time we were targeting to achieve Rupees 20
Crores as our business turnover in five years. And we were looking
at every single possibility to achieve the target.
We did not focus on page views and we did not spend huge
money on marketing campaigns. We understood the fact that we
needed to grow our sales to survive in the market.
We were Investing in sales, customer service and on our
product. Then, dot com burst happened. We did not have any hope
of raising money. We knew that we would not be able to raise
money, and we had 7 crores. We recovered our breakeven point
when we had some 2.5 or 3 Crores of funding left with us. So this
strategy worked for us.
So the overall experience, in this market has been pretty good.
TM. What was the correct go-to-market strategy that had given
positive results to your business at tougher times?
HO. Instead of spending money on advertising, we took a difficult
way which was through establishing our sales team, hiring people,
investing in our product etc. This, according to me, was the turning
point of our business and this strategy has worked for us.
We focussed on our product development, enhancing customer
experiences on our website at the same time we set up our sales
network and we even invested our resources in ensuring customer
TM. What will be your advice for peers who are eying to enter this
segment, in today’s market?
HO. Market conditions are completely different from what it was
10 years back. We were lucky that we entered into the market at
a time when Internet users were not so mature and nor was the
competition. But certain best practices still have big relevance in
today’s scenario. So I would advise my peers not to invest too much
of their resources on advertising. They need to create best of class
product in the market and this should always be a priority. This
strategy had given positive results for us, and I am sure this will
continue to work in today’s scenario as well.
Today the market is very competitive in nature, once you
enter into any new field you will be followed automatically by
competition. So, the start-up has to maintain their product’s unique
selling proposition at every level. I think the trend of online social
networking and getting feedback from customers has become key
to success. So in today’s context start ups have to consider these
aspects very carefully.
TM. What is your outlook towards the Indian Internet market in
HO. This year will be a good year for business. Internet in 2010
will continue to grow, Internet advertising will continue to grow
significantly. In the job space, the overall economic growth will
also be a decisive factor. And if we look at what the government is
expecting in terms of GDP growth, I can say that the job market is
surely going to be very good in near future.
TM. Which trends are driving the 2010 market?
HO. Basically one factor which will ultimately drive the Internet
market is the broadband growth. A lot of discussion
and forums have been organized so far which
have discussed the need of affordable broadband
for the Indian market. Positive work has started
happening in this direction which is surely going
to drive the Internet market