There are not many cases where we see that a businessman’s child wants to be a self-made entrepreneur. It’s either that they join the family business or opt for a cozy job. Here’s Dinesh Agarwal who grew up in a smooth business family but had no plans of becoming a businessman ever.
Dinesh is originally from Nanpara, in Uttar Pradesh. After finishing his BTech in computer science from Kanpur, he worked with many MNCs. Five years later he moved to America to work with HCL Technologies. The salary, quality of life, and the work, all was good out there, but Dinesh felt something missing and a thought whirled in his mind that he cannot do the same job for his entire life.
This thought was ought to grow in his mind as he was never a person who wanted to have a plain and boring life. He wanted to have new things happening to him, new opportunities approaching him. He felt like having his own business. Being in the US, internet had made a great impression on him and so he wanted to do something in the same sector in India. Earlier, internet use was not available for general public in India but later, on August 15, 1995 government finally launched internet for public. This made him return to India in 1996 to his relatives, friends and family.
Being a computer analyst he had a great hand on softwares and was also an early internet user. He planned to create a platform for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to display their products through dedicated web pages. It was to create a place where SMEs can market their products. He named the business as IndiaMart. A flat that he had purchased while working was converted into an office and the work took off.
Dinesh had a saving of Rs 40,000 which came forward as an investment for his venture. But not every business gets a smooth start and so was the case with this one. Computers were the key requirement for their business to work. At that time, computers were costly and only a few businesses had them. So, it had become a task for him and his team to convince people to buy a computer for promotion of their respective businesses.
Apart from this, internet connections also created hurdles in the business. Uploading and downloading small files took a lot of time even after which they managed to get their first client, who were the Nirulas, a fast-food chain. They made a deal that they will develop and manage their website for an annual fee of Rs 32,000.
He employed a staff for getting innovative ways of marketing and sales personnel to generate the business. As a promotional strategy IndiaMart also arranged certain exhibitions at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, to showcase their services with the staff people wearing t-shirts to promote their brand. The business model worked in the manner that once the client’s company’s profile was on the web, it would start generating business queries from potential customers from across the globe. They would monitor the response and their sales personnel would apprise the company about the interest it was creating on the internet.
Many working businesses started understanding the importance of the web presence as internet brought profits to them as well as the IndiaMart. The scope of this business appeared clearer when at the end of the first year the firm recorded a turnover of around Rs 6 lakh with only nine employees.
As the business got bigger the need for a bigger space arose. This made them change four offices between the years 1996 to 1999. At one point hiring a new employee would cost them Rs 50,000, as it involved a purchase of a computer and other relevant accessories. The other costs also increased as some businesses had e-mails through which the queries could be forwarded to them but some businesses didn’t even have that. So, for them they had to save the query, take a printout, and fax it to the respective client.
IndiaMart had their second office set up in 1998 at Mumbai. By 1999, IndiaMart had a family of 1,000 clients and 100 staff members. Staff was one big reason for the success of the business. But the blow came with the US terror attack on 11 September, 2001 as it affected their business and the revenue fell by 40 percent. It had become hard for Dinesh and his team to pay up the staff member, even then the staff members supported IndiaMart and worked for it. Today, the company has over 3,500 employees located across 70 offices in the country.
Founded in 1996, the company’s mission is ‘to make doing business, easy’. In 2007, a two-acre plot worth Rs 7 crore in Noida became their new office. IndiaMART had closed the financial year 2015-16 with revenue of Rs 300 crore and is expected to register a growth of 30 percent for the year 2016-17, once the audited results are declared.
More than 30 lakh SMEs have trusted them with their business. Its existing investors include Intel Capital, Amadeus Capital, WestBridge Capital, and Quona Capital. Their app is rated 4.5 which is one of the best rated apps in the e-commerce category. This speaks volumes for the kind of trust they have built for themselves but this acceptance comes with a lot of responsibility.
Dinesh Agarwal, when talking about entrepreneurship, says, it’s never about glamour and fame. “It is very important to differentiate your offering. I think entrepreneurs of today should think about innovation and disruption.”
While talking to KenFolios he concludes, “I think everyone is born with 100 percent chance to succeed because we all have at least 20 percent of luck. So if you try only once you might fail, but if you try five more times, you will succeed at least once. That has been my theory even now.”