85 Broads commenced its programme in Delhi yesterday with a discussion on starting and running an e-commerce business in India, led by the charming CEO of Crazeal.com, (Groupon India) Ankur Warikoo.
You may be surprised that we had chosen a man to kick-start our Delhi programme, as indeed were the educated professional women in our audience. Ankur is of course a fantastic speaker, with a sense of humour combined with experience and insight – any organisation would be lucky to have him as a presenter. Yet, a women’s network, aiming to promote women’s achievements, being introduced to Delhi by a man?
The fact is, while there are indeed inspiring and successful women in India, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi and global beauty entrepreneur Shahnaz Hussain being just two examples, this country has a long way to go in promoting the success of people with two X chromosomes. With this is mind, we had asked an accomplished entrepreneur to teach us how to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and here are some of the things he shared:
The e-commerce sector in India is a highly competitive one, with institutional money funding all of the country’s popular sites, such as Flipkart.com, Rocket Internet’s Jabong.com and Smile Group’s FashionandYou.com. As a result, marketing budgets are high, consumers are flooded with choice and the lure of shopping online comes from bargain hunting rather than brand loyalty. Therefore, if you are thinking of setting up an online business, ask yourself:
Ankur suggested taking the amount you think you need and multiplying it by 2.5 times; as a rough estimate, you need around $1 million to be able to test a model aggressively, since bootstrapping isn’t feasible in today’s competitive environment. Raising money isn’t easy of course, and unless you are very lucky, you will need to select a team with a great pedigree to woo investors into parting with their cash.
India is too big a market for anyone to miss, hence its competitive nature. However, there are still fortunes to be made, and Ankur’s sectors to watch for online are: food retail, education and real estate.
We were naturally interested to know about the lessons he learnt while setting up and running his businesses; he gave us three key lessons:
The addressable market for e-commerce is continually growing, as is the country’s wealth. Even though the sector may seem to be in a bubble, plenty of opportunity remains. If you have a fantastic idea, investigate and pursue, before somebody else does. The trick in finding success lies in innovation, dedication, and as always, luck.
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