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Indian online market not ripe enough to support vertical websites: TiEcon Delhi 2009

by Satrajit Sen

According to Sanjeev Bikhchandani, CEO, Naukri.com, the Indian online market is not ripe enough to support vertical websites irrespective of whatever service they offer. Bikhchandani was speaking at the TiEcon Delhi 2009 organised on 18-19 September in New Delhi. He was responding to a question on how viable a vertical job site like KPOPlacements.com is.

by Satrajit Sen

According to Sanjeev Bikhchandani, CEO, Naukri.com, the Indian online market is not ripe enough to support vertical websites irrespective of whatever service they offer. Bikhchandani was speaking at the TiEcon Delhi 2009 organised on 18-19 September in New Delhi. He was responding to a question on how viable a vertical job site like KPOPlacements.com is.

Speaking about the difficulties of starting online business in India, Moorthy Uppaluri, general manager-DPE, Microsoft India, said that it is indeed difficult as there is a lack of proper software, infrastructure and the market intelligence, which are essential for any new online business. While agreeing with Uppaluri, Yashish Dahiya, co-founder and CEO, PolicyBazaar.com, said that though the entrepreneurial ecosystem has not been good enough to breed internet startups in India, the situation is changing and now, there is an ecosystem which always supports the startups.

Responding to a question on what type of online businesses are mature enough to see investments in the current times, Yashish Dahiya, co-founder and CEO, PolicyBazaar.com, said that brilliant ideas with monetisation abilities will definitely get funded even in current times. However, Bejul Somaia, managing director, Lightspeed Venture Partners, felt that the Indian online industry is not mature enough to see more funding in present times.

Deep Kalra, founder and CEO, MakeMyTrip.com, while stressing on the importance of having a like-minded team, said that a bad team can kill a business idea and one needs to identify good people for sustaining a business plan. Echoing the same, Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and CEO, Yatra.com, said that the ingredients required for the right execution of a business include the idea, passion and the team who shares the similar passion towards the idea.

Speaking at the event, Dinesh Agarwal, founder and CEO, IndiaMart.com, said that after an entrepreneur launches a company, the first thing he needs is a web presence. “Web presence in the form of website, blogs or social media is mandatory for a newly launched company so as to understand and see how the consumers are responding to the services, before going for advertising,” he said.

Agreeing on the same, Manish Vij, co-founder, Quasar Media, said that entrepreneurs should refrain from jumping on to big budget advertising campaigns soon after launching a product or a company. “Advertising should be done after the company has done enough pilots for the product and also have consumers who can be the brand ambassadors of the product,” said Vij.

Speaking about the importance of having a concrete marketing plan, Dinesh Agarwal of IndiaMart said that the stage of the product and positioning should be the decisive factor for deciding on which medium of advertising to use. Giving IndiaMart’s example, Agarwal said that initially the company did organic search (search engine optimisation), then they went for print advertisements for building the brand and now they are scaling up their operations by doing paid advertisements on the web (search engine marketing).

According to Manish Vij of Quasar, spending money on internet will not work well if new companies don’t do organic search optimisation initially. He further said that spam (email marketing) works well in India and is a cost-effective, early-stage marketing tool for small businesses. “Social networks and large internet companies have been built on spamming, but one should know when to stop and should have the right product in place,” Vij added.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and MD, One97, was of the opinion that if advertisements don’t work for a company, entrepreneurs should relook the business model and if the competitors are giving a good fight, one should consider shifting to a new market.

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