A mentor is like an experienced friend who will teach us and guide us along. A mentor will build the trust and will model the positive behaviors. The best mentor will understand that the role will be knowledgeable, effective, dependable and engaging.
Anyone can be a mentor but they have to be successful in whichever field and will have to use their strength to their advantage. So yes it is true that if you have the right mentor then your career will surely go up.
How would you meet the right mentor? The answer is, through Evolvers. Read out to know how you can choose the best mentor for yourself.
Gather up all that you need while choosing the right mentor in the growth path.
Write down the questions you need to ask:
Do I require help with my present part or with how to push forward to another part?
Do I require bolster from my guide for a specific test or for my whole vocation?
Improve abilities from my tutor or should my guide disclose to me what aptitudes I have to create?
What is your mentor’s way to deal with helping you?
What is the idea of your association with your mentor is it formal or casual?
Is your mentor helping you with nothing or would you say you will pay him/her?
How regularly might you want to communicate with your mentor?
Now you will have to find the mentor keeping all these questions in mind. You might have someone in mind, if not, and then this might help you.
Join Evolvers and you’ll quickly be acquainted with more individuals with differed encounters.
Contact senior administrators who have exceeded expectations at their employment.
Are there renowned industry pioneers who motivate you?
There is no point to lie on the lower side and not ask for any help from your mentor. There should be a need to build a strong relationship with your mentor and it is important that you and your mentor should share the same values and leadership style.
This is important because if you don’t match with your mentor quality-wise then you and your mentor will have conflicts. It takes time to build a relationship with your mentor, so it is advisable that one should not give up so easily.
Now that you have got a mentor, you should be clear about your expectations and the relationship you will have with them. Just like you give an interview, your initial interactions should be done in the same way.
They should be able to give you enough time and sufficient contribution and should expect the same from you. The mentor should know about the strengths and weaknesses of yours. Remember that you should not hold anything back as this relationship will make your career.
The mentor you chose would be the best and will guide you well but there might be a chance that you might need more than one mentor. All you have to do is try.
In the previous blog, we discussed the SEO point of view which Muruga followed to rank his website. How Muruga took the ascended content marketing and why was the need to create the HappyMarriage.com. While creating HappyMarriage.com, Muruga faced some challenges and the thought behind the strategy was important too. Muruga executed the plan based on the communications, referrals and that was how the outcome was shown. They created offline marketing channels in which the hosted events like Mega Swayamvaram, speed dating, special meetings, retailing and finally the results were shown.
MULTI-BRAND STRATEGY – DIVERSE MARKETPLACES
Muruga saw the accompanying focal points of utilizing a multi-mark procedure –
It was anything but difficult to duplicate these commercial centers utilizing the same back-end innovation
Scalability wasn’t an issue
Also, marital clients aren’t deep rooted clients. The lifetime estimation of a client is typically 3 a year. They just remained on the stage until they got hitched. Once the pursuit is finished, there is no purpose behind them to return to the site. This made it basic to differentiate.
Keeping the structure of innovation set up, Muruga took an official choice and chose to dispatch the accompanying commercial centers successively from 2006 to 2008 i.e. 8 benefits in a traverse of two years. The enhancement helped pick up the piece of the overall industry and these stages were beginning to see development –
com: The No.1 Property Portal.
com: Help individuals with individual, property and vehicle credits.
com: The Online Automobile Supermarket.
Mobile 5050: Latest news on telephones, contraptions
com: The Online Classifieds.
Clickjobs: An occupations entrance
Indiapages: The Online Yellow Pages
BharatBloodBank – a non-benefit, non-business interface
The focus shifted completely towards the matrimony space in 2008. This was the time when the credit crisis led to a global recession. The entities like Bharatbloodbank.com, clickjobs.com, indiapages.com, indiaautomobile.com, indiaproperty.com and loanwala.com were shut down due to the recession.
Distinctive pricing strategies – Geographies and Net Worth
It was in 2001 when Muruga offered the paid version along with the free version of the BharatMatrimony to keep the revenue alive; this was done after the dot-com crash.
Rs 200 per year, was the cost of the paid version and when Muruga felt that this has picked up so he decided to scale the revised version that took the geographies and the net worth of the users into account.
BharatMatrimony was gratifying to the Indian audience, globally with different spending powers. This was considered the best move by Muruga as distinctive pricing based on geographies is not that common when it gets down to a subscription business.
This type of strategy is used by some companies today also. For example, Byju’s is a learning app and it charges differently on the basis of class. Also, for the age group of 18+, the charges would be different which will depend upon the courses. They provide a trial or free sample initially but to get access to the full course, the student has to purchase the course.
Generally what happens is that people are afraid to experiment, especially when they are starting new, but Muruga had some different stuff in mind. The only reason which made BharatMatrimony standing solidly for almost 20 years was the experimental ability like launching new products, hosting events, and launching new properties.
Muruga focused on matrimony on the basis of audience preferences but the initial idea was launched with 15 regional domains under BharatMatrimony.
Not just matrimony but he also launched properties which were not related to matrimony services like com, Indiaautomobile.com etc.
The main focus was Matrimony and this was the reason that it was launched over more than 300 websites which were related to matrimony and the niche categories and also which organized different event either they were 100 meets in 30 days or huge offline events.
It’s not easy to start a new business and run it in a simple way. Muruga solidified his feet with the changes he made on a regular basis. While some of the features fell flat on the face but some won and Muruga learned something from each of them.
HIGHLY DATA DRIVEN
It was only the data that helped Muruga to make right decisions during the time of the expansion of the site. For the Day 1, the information was collected but the company was not able to draw any insights. Then in 2006, Muruga decided to process the information and use it accordingly. He made a data collection team which would ensure that the data was collected and it was being used efficiently and it was searched relevant. The analytical tools were set up and data scientists were hired, these would make sure that the reports were made on regular basis.
ACTUAL PRODUCT UPDATES
New communities – BharatMatrimony expansion was assumed on the basis that the matrimony requirement for the different communities will be same as that of the Tamil and Telegu communities as the common part is the language part of all the communities. On this basis, Muruga created the matrimonial services to Kannada, Gujrati, Kerala, Hindi, Sindhi, Marathi, and Bengali. Later, he expanded it to the communities like Parsi, Marwadi, Assamese, Marathi, Oriya and local languages of India. If we look at the success stories, we can clearly see that the idea worked.
New devices – Initially, BharatMatrimony was available on the desktop only; later Muruga saw that the people living in the remote areas were not having a way to access the site as they did not have any desktop. But they did have a phone and this is why Muruga created a mobile-friendly version of the site for those people so that they would get alerts on their phone as well.
This is to be noted that it is important to keep an eye on the demographics of your target audience, the limit of the device usage, and the online payments habits determine which platform a business should go for to ease up the navigation and the use of online user interface.
Always look for the soft qualitative data i.e. reviews, customer feedback, conversation over the calls, and their expressive views about their product. Look for the hard quantitative data too i.e. the number of customers, ratings, time spent on the site, mostly the things which are measured as a quantity. It is important to look at these types of data to make better decisions.
Keen eye on the optimization process
The optimization was done after the processes and tools were placed well in the company, well mainly around the product and marketing related development. The question raised was that how we can get more customers by spending less on keeping the existed ones. The traffic was calculated based on the ads, channels, keywords, creativity, and how that translated into revenue. The whole array of communications from the principal touch point to a held client was nearly inspected in all cases. Properties and campaigns that weren’t contributing as much were discarded and the concentration was moved to ones that were flourishing. There was a need to enhance which prompted the company’s size being definitely decreased, making it a great deal more slender and focused.
Ideas are a way to innovation and openness. We came across so many ideas from the customer representatives and the tech teams that led to the creation of new products for the BharatMatrimony. If someone came up with an interesting idea then we gave the liberty to them to design the strategy and to build up the team to execute the plan.
Work towards progress
At BharatMatrimony, we follow a genuinely vigorous deft process. The daily meetings were held for 15 minutes where we would discuss about the things that were done yesterday and if there were any encumbrances then those were considered and the things that were to happen on the next day was planned according to that. Key metrics were mostly the part of these discussions.
Our employees are with BharatMatrimony for more than 10 years and our first three employees are still with us. We boost the morale of our employees and motivate them by keeping them enclosed with the company’s growth and the direction in which the company was heading.
Understanding the value system
The value of the company and a marriage go hand in hand with an organization and this makes our mission bigger than all of us. We inculcate these values from the beginning among the people of BharatMatrimony.
In 2017 BharatMatrimony decided to go public and the IPO was launched in September 2017 and was oversubscribed 4.41 times. The company raised Rs 500 crore through the issue that contained new issue of up to Rs 130 crore and an offer available to be purchased of up to 37.67 lakh value shares.
We have seen that how Muruga stood tall above despite all odds, he took chances and risks, some of them played well but some of them backfired, but he never gave up. Still, this question arises that why most of the startups fail and do not recover from their failures? Is it because of the lack of disruption or the inability to access the product or they are not able to fit into the competitive market. This time they would switch the idea while seeing that the previous one will not be working anymore now.
If we take the above points into consideration, then Evolvers show the entrepreneurs the right direction. Be it a mentor or an investor, Evolvers will facilitate all your business needs and all of this you will get on the Evolvers Platform.
Everybody wishes to know the journey of a successful startup. What opportunities it saw, what challenges it faced, what solutions it implemented, how the market reacted and how its journey is continuing. Bharat Matrimony is that kind of a startup.
It is one of the first ones to ride on the internet boom; it has come through lots of ups & downs and still going strong. Let us be part of the journey.
Do you have any idea that how Bharat Matrimony managed to take its name in the Limca Book of world records for documenting the most number of marriages online?
Well, we will explain the marketing strategy breakdown of how Bharat Matrimony became an IPO from an Idea.
Bharat Matrimony Marketing Strategy
The company’s development story is interesting, persuasive and a decent case of brand advancement that accomplished item/showcase fit on an amazing number of levels with a group of 4000 representatives, and a piece of the overall industry of 60%.
With 3 million clients and 140 branches in India till date, they have figured out how to always re-examine the brand with mind-blowing premonition.
Let’s take a look at the facts; Bharat Matrimony is a Flagship brand with Matrimony.com as a Parent Company. Bharat Matrimony is an online matchmaking and marriage website which runs under Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO.
HOW IT ALL DID START?
Murugavel Janakiraman or Muruga hails from a small town of Royapuram, Chennai, where he struggled from day to day life challenges which came in the way.
One of the challenges was to share 1 bathroom with 14 other people; he did not have electricity at home until the age of 23. His only dream was to get a degree and get a house with electricity and an attached bathroom so that his family wouldn’t have to share the common bathroom.
He got a degree in MCA in 1994 and took up a job in Polaris Chennai as a Tech Consultant. At his job, he had to travel to Singapore and the US for the projects where he unveiled the internet skills with big names like Yahoo, Sify and Rediff who were building their business around the internet and all the other aspects through online at that time.
During his stay in the US for two years, Muruga really missed home and his friends; he missed hanging out with them and also the binge-watching of Tamil movies.
He felt like he was losing the connection with the Tamilian Community and he wanted to connect with his roots really soon.
He started searching for a few websites which published content for Tamilians; content which was on politics, entertainment and movies, but he was not satisfied with the search as he was not getting any way for interactions.
He wanted to do something which no one was doing. There was no type of connectivity for a type of community which was living overseas and no one has thought about that.
A repeating design that was seen was that best business people likewise happen to be the initial ones in the space, otherwise known as first movers. It is all about the early bird catching the worm.
HOW DID THEY LAUNCH THE IDEA?
The transindia.com was launched in 1997 by Muruga which is called Thamizhar Pakkam (translates to For the Tamil community), this was made with the intention to connect with the Tamil community. The platform had services and engaging channels which were content driven.
These included –
Tamil Matrimonial: Look for prospective brides or grooms
Make Friends: Connect with others Tamilians across the world
Tamil daily calendar: Calendar marked with auspicious dates
Reminder: Indian festival reminder
Travel: Book flight tickets through travel agencies
Religion and charities: Find religious and charitable groups in Tamil Nadu
Radio: List of radio stations that you could tune into and listen to your favorite songs
The engaging content was planned as following –
News and Magazines: Tamil political news
Movies and Cine Stars: Tamil Cine News, Photos & Interviews (Updated Weekly)
Literature and people: Famous people in the field of literature
Institutes: A database of educational institutions
SO HOW DID THEY GET THEIR FIRST CUSTOMERS?
In 1997, there was limited social media advertising and Muruga was on a tight financial budget. So, he used his creative instinct and he used the following methods to attract the audience to his business.
PAMPHLETS AND FLYERS
Stores in the US
Most of the Indians went to the local grocery stores in the neighborhood area. Muruga printed 500 pamphlets and distributed them among all the nearby Indian stores in the US.
Friends in Chennai
Back in Chennai, he asked a few of his close friends to distribute those pamphlets in the stores in nearby localities by taking out a print out.
Online marketing discussion forums
With no social channels in the targeted area, Muruga targeted discussion groups like Google and Yahoo. He joined their conversation and started mentioning transindia.com to them.
When one created a new website it was difficult to promote back at that time. So, Muruga found some websites which were ready to promote him in return of a small favor for the employees.
Like if someone would create a profile on the website then they will get a 10% discount on the next travel tickets.
Likewise, with the approach of Google and Yahoo web search tools, Muruga began utilizing ideas of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). His essential spotlight was positioning on the principal page of Google, Yahoo, and other web search tools.
Thought to Demand Validation
With all the hard work Muruga did, the golden results followed:
Almost 3000 people created their Matrimonial profile
The audience made him a pioneer in the social network when 2000 people made a profile on “make friends” profile.
The Greeting Card service was also being used frequently.
Muruga saw that people were more inclined towards the matrimonial services and the other services are being used comparatively less.
He received an email from a user which stated that he found a Tamil bride through their website and this was a big achievement for him. This showed that people were more interest in the matrimony stuff.
Muruga launched Tamil Matrimony and Telegu Matrimony which later evolved to BharatMatrimony.
How did they develop their business?
The year of 2000 saw a wave of global panic and a global recession as the dot-com had gone down in the US as most of the companies which were receiving a capital investment from different joint ventures, were shutting down. Because of this, Muruga had to quit his job.
One step at a time
Initially, Muruga was investing $1000 but when he did not have a regular income from his job then he had to think of another way to invest in his website.
So, he had to create a new method where he could generate some revenue. He settled down on the paid version of the website with some terms and conditions. Of course, the paid version was also there.
The Free Version
The Paid Version (Rs 200 or $4.5 annually approx)
Create a new profile
Add initial information
Talk to other people
All features of the free version
Uploading of multiple photos
Users were allowed to place Newspaper Ads
What were the results?
The results were astonishingly good, Muruga figured out how to make back the initial investment with income got from paid clients.
During this time, Muruga did not want to stall and he wanted to make more money. More features were added on the website.
Free users were allowed to add images
They were allowed to bookmark their shortlisted profiles
They were able to save searches and scan photos
If you wanted to contact a certain profile then you will have to become a paid member.
New pricing scheme was also introduced
$15 for 3 months: Bride/Groom living outside India
$25 for 6 months: Bride/Groom living outside India
$15 for 6 months: Bride/Groom living in India
During the economical dot-com bubble burst, Bharat Matrimony was standing firmly against the technological times and was progressing slowly and steadily, whereas other companies were closing down.
Remember the famous dialogue from Band Baaja Baarat, “recession ho ya inflation, shaadi to honi hi hai na aur log lakho kharchte rahenge.” So you can relate.
Only two companies stood against the dot-com bubble burst time; one was the education company and the other one was the Matrimony Company.
Partnership with the other companies
For Muruga, it was a golden opportunity as all the other technology companies were providing Matrimony as an additional division, were closing this part from their website to focus more on the core business.
So grabbing this opportunity, Muruga took advantage of the crisis and he reached out to the companies.
Muruga moved toward Rediff (A news data site) and indicated enthusiasm for getting to be one of their channel accomplices for the matrimonial services that were offered on Rediff. They paid Rediff Rs 1 lakh (~$2200) for this organization.
The results were bright as Rediff was making increased money as the workforce was less and BharatMatrimony was able to direct a tremendous amount of traffic on their website when all the Matrimony profiles were redirecting from Rediff to BharatMatrimony.
What was the next step?
Murugavel chose to approach organizations like Sify, MSN, and Emerson to set up comparable associations.
Numerous sites were associated
Muruga’s objective was focused on making a matrimonial space for various communities. Apart from the matrimonial site, he included areas with services like:
Real Estate (Buy and offer property on the web)
Astrology (Get week by week and month to month horoscopes)
New tabs consisting a broad gathering of South Indian music, books, and recipes.
But his main focus remained on the Matrimonial part.
He changed the overall look and view format of the site alongside the domain name and called it sysindia.com. He, at that point, ensured that audience would definitely explore the single destinations (telegumatrimony.com or tamilmatrimony.com) to the parent site (sysindia.com).
As time passed by more profiles and successful matrimonial bonds were being made through the site. With most of the information was on his side and a solid gut egging him to go up against more he chose to grow.
He chose to enroll other space names like bengalimatrimony.com, punjabimatrimony.com, gujaratimatrimony.com despite the fact that there was no indication of these communities becoming on the web at the time as he felt if there was an interest for Tamil and Telugu matrimony then there would be a comparative interest for different communities crosswise over India.
His fantastic vision was to have these communities under one brand name. Matrimony.com: A stage for all Indians.
He failed to get ‘matrimony.com’ and ‘indiamatrimony.com’ as a domain name but he was not disappointed by that. He took the next available domain name which has become the most popular Matrimonial website; ‘bharatmatrimony.com’.
From an SEO point of view, it is invaluable to have one parent area – matrimony.com with committed pages for every community that comes under the parent site.
For e.g.: www.bharatmatrimony.com/tamilmatrimony gave greater expert to the site and furthermore demonstrated ideal in the internet searcher rankings.
To be continued….
The story of Muruga doesn’t end here; in fact, there is a big roller coaster ride here and there and a lot more to look forward. In the next part, we will read about why Happy Marriage was created.
The concept of speed dating and family meeting were also introduced but the main question was, whether the ideas were correctly implemented or not and also the retail outlets were launched.
There was an idea behind this initiative and there were many challenges which Muruga faced while creating Happy Marriage. After facing many challenges Muruga had results in his hands but how were the results? were they good or not so good, we will read this in the next part.
We all know that India is a developing country and people are really working hard to change the status of developing country to “developed”. India has very bright minds which are either shining or are ready to shine. All they need is a platform to turn the switch ON of the bulb.
In India, you can find many SMEs and Startups which are either stuck somewhere or are huddled in a corner with no idea on how to move forward but the following young entrepreneurs have crossed all the hurdles and obstacles which have arrived gracefully in their way.
The Ex Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra was into financial services for almost 25 years. After quitting her job, she took the entrepreneurial plunge and started a wellness and beauty company by the name of Nykaa.com. The IIM Ahmadabad graduate launched her website in 2012 and is constantly building up by addition of more on more luxury products.
Nykaa is all set to reach a turnover of Rs.250Cr. She has been a stockbroker & an investment banker. Understanding business plans & financial projections were things that came easily to her. She took part in a lot of IPOs as an Investment banker. Seeing value creation all around, it was but natural she yearned for starting something on her own. Nykaa did a lot of things differently in the e-commerce industry. It is among one of the few e-commerce companies which are inventory led. As a business head, she knew first things come first – a team was very important. As first employees, she had the COO, the CTO, & Chief Content Officer hired. She also understood that more than the discounts, the customer is looking for a full range of products. Also, everything sold on Nykaa is sourced directly from the brand.
Nykaa also launched their private label which now contributes to about 10% of the sales at Nykaa. Nykaa is very close to breakeven. They might come up with an IPO very soon that will provide exit as well as consolidation to investors who have invested close to Rs.180 Cr in the company, namely, TVS Capital, Harsh Mariwala, Max India, and Munjal Family Office. Nykaa is in talks to raise another round of Rs.75Cr at an expected valuation of Rs.3000 Cr.
Periods are still considered a taboo in most of the parts in India, generally the rural parts. The girls who are on their periods are not allowed to enter the kitchen, temple and are not even allowed to touch any family member. Aditi Gupta first got her periods when she was 12. She still remembers and still pities that 12-year-old self, who was treated by her mother as someone who has done something wrong, something impure. Though educated she grew up in a traditional home where talking about such things was a taboo and the entire discussion about menstruation was shielded from the male members. Even in school, she recalls, that the entire chapter on this basic biology of all women was skipped by the male teacher.
She kept on using cloth as buying a pad was too much for a dignified family. Finally, at the age of 15, she mustered the courage to go to the market & buy the pad herself. During her post-graduation, she met Tuhin who she later married. Tuhin had a boy sibling so he never knew about menstruation apart from what he studied in the school textbooks. However, seeing Aditi go through the cycle every month, he wanted to help her more by educating her more. He researched and told so many things about menstruation to Aditi that even she didn’t know.
This made Aditi realize that if an educated woman like herself wasn’t aware of something that affects her so routinely, there would be millions who would be facing even more difficulty. She took a yearlong project in menstrual awareness. This became the founding stone for menstrupedia.
Mentrupedia.com, the brainchild of Aditi Gupta brings awareness about menstruation in a very simple & easy way, so much so that they advise that even a 9-year-old girl can read their comics. The comic book shows that how the members can embrace the periods and they have a guide to hygiene and health of girls and how they can be active and normal during their periods.
The site has more than 1 lac visitors per month. The comic book has been such a hit that it has been shipped across to South Africa as well and it is planned to be launched in at least 8-10 Indian languages & 3 foreign languages.
Aditi is one crusader who has picked up a cause that affects 50% of the total population. We strongly recommend being a part of her awareness program & supporting the initiative.
Another investment banker, this time from Ambala, worked with Goldman Sachs for about 3 years after having studied in London School of Economics. The cupid had already struck. Swati married Rohan, her batch-mate from LSE in 2009. Both together started PouringPound in 2011. The great success that the cash back industry was having in many countries led Rohan and Swati to start up PouringPound. In the UK, the affiliate marketing segment that time was 3-4% of the whole e-commerce market.
Very soon in 2013, she, along with her husband & business partner, Rohan, launched the site cashkaro.com. They are working with over 500-600 brands that include Amazon, Snapdeal, Jabong etc. What sets cashkaro.com apart is that unlike other coupon sites, they have Price Comparison, Product Search & cashback in addition to regular coupons & offers.
With the Indian e-commerce industry slated to grow at more than $100bn in the next decade, the stage looks set for the players who already have the experience & maturity in this nascent industry. Of course, disrupters would be there but the existing companies are also changing the rules of the game with each passing day.
Going once, going twice, going thrice, SOLD! It is official. Wal-Mart will be acquiring a controlling stake of 77% in FLIPKART for a whopping $16 billion. That values FLIPKART at roughly $21 billion. This is the world’ largest e-commerce deal till date. Off late, poor exits & poor returns have marred the India startup story. This deal is being touted as coming of age for the Indian e-commerce.
The crorepati employees
Besides one billionaire co-founder who walks away with about a billion dollar, several multi-millionaires would be born out of this deal. Over 100 Flipkart employees might become dollar millionaire after this deal.
The Wal-Mart deal has helped worker investment opportunity designs (ESOPs) of Flipkart to an aggregate of $2 billion or Rs 13,455 crores. This is, in any case, not the first run through Flipkart’s workers are profiting because of the liquidity of investment opportunities.
If we look at esops of all the employees then they are worth over Rs.5000 cr. This is not the first time that the Flipkart’s employees have benefitted by liquefying the stocks. Back in December, Flipkart bought back equity from its employees and had spent a total of $100 million.
This is also termed as the largest buyback of ESOPs by any private company in the country. An approximate of 3000 employees of different brands which are owned by Flipkart have benefitted from the offer.
The Indian ecommerce market
FLIPKART claims to have sold $7.5 bn worth of Gross Merchandise Value annually. This is over 54mn customers, & 261mn products. That’s roughly 2.2 crore products handled monthly.
As per the Investors presentation shared by Walmart for the deal, they are estimating the retail ecommerce industry to grow by 36%, 4 times vis-à-vis Indian retail industry by 2023.
This will mean that the retail e-commerce will have a share of >6% in the Indian retail market. Indian retail market is expected to be $200 billion market by the year 2026. These are some huge numbers.
What it means for startups
Flipkart’s founders, Sachin&Binny Bansal have already invested in startups. Electric-scooter maker Ather, artificial intelligence-driven health tech firm Sigtuple and biotech startup Pandorum are such examples.
The best part is that these ventures are unrelated to the venture they made money in. 80% of the ecommerce market is controlled by Amazon & Walmart-Flipkart combined. If someone to say he is launching ecommerce startup, people would laugh at him.
The message is clear – funds have started to flow in startups that are not cab-aggregation, fashion & hospitality. This deal will help Sachin, Binny& hundreds of ESOP holders who will have lots of money at their disposal to invest boldly into business ideas.
We can see super specialization building up. Education & Healthcare would also gain.
Already 200 startups are founded by former Flipkart employees. Over 50 ventures are backed by people who have been associated with Flipkart. This number is going to shoot up big time.
Several funds including Sequoia, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, Nexus Venture, Inventus Capital, &Saama Capital have raised fresh money to back Indian startups.
More than a dozen new India based & focused VCs have setup shop in the past 2 years including Stellaris, IAN fund etc. They had interest in India. Now with this kind of an exit, they would be thinking that they have come here in good time.
About 300 former employees of Flipkart, who held fully vested ESOPs, received an email recently that really shook their core.
The rumours were many, but the email with the subject line: “Liquidity opportunity of vested stock options for ex Flipkart employees” told them this was for real.
The email stated that only 30 percent of their stock options would vest with the company’s 77 percent stake sale to Walmart. There was no reference to the fate of the remaining 70 percent ESOPs.
So would it mean, the remaining 70% were to be liquidated at the time of, say an IPO? This would find hardly any takers. Of course this is unfair to ex-employees.
According to sources, current employees of Flipkart will be able to vest up to 50 percent of their stock options now, 25 percent next year, and the remainder the year after. But the ex-employees have not been treated with the same fur glove.
The stock options are an acknowledgement of exemplary work done & value brought in by the employees. Even if the employees move on, the vested stock options are for them to make use of.
When Flipkart completed a buyback last October, ex-employees could liquidate only 10 percent of their holdings; current employees could liquidate up to 25 percent. The net worth of the shares of ex-employees is currently estimated at $300 million, that is nearly a third of the total ESOPs.
The sale of Flipkart, in the world’s biggest e-commerce acquisition, is a reason to celebrate, a reason to be optimistic about the future of Indian startups. But did the management take a long-term view? Did someone standup for the rights of the ex-employees who contributed to the company?
Is the new management ready to live the culture they will propagate? Current and potential employees will closely observe Walmart’s approach to ESOPs.
ESOPs have real value; they have created real dollar-millionaires. In India however, startup ESOPs often don’t turn out to be the reward they are made out to be? Is this the wake-up call for Indian employees to better read the fine print &realise that ESOPs are high risk? The startups still need takent. Right? How then – is a point to ponder.
Make in India Drive
What this deal has done is clearly dented the make in India drive. Ideally, local market opportunities should have been lapped up by domestic startups. But with the Indian government moving this slow always, foreign companies will now dominate.
This is excerpt by VivekWadhwa, a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program. He further adds that the Walmart deal will intensify competition.
The elephants will battle each and this will, in the short term, benefit Indian consumers. However, Indian startups will be trampled in the melee.
Reading between the lines
The US market gave a thumbs down to this deal wherein Walmart shares lost $10 billion market cap in a single day after this announcement was made.
In the investors presentation too, Walmart had indicated an EPS loss of $0.60 but seems that the market estimated it even higher.
Walmart has paid a very hefty premium for gaining what – a 1% stake in the Indian retail market. Many stakeholders seemed confused.
The way SoftBank has entered India with its $10bn war chest, the smaller investors have already started to worry about their investments. Any backing by SoftBank clearly makes a player a behemoth & ring fences the sector in his favour.
SoftBank hasn’t decided on its 22.6% stake in Flipkart, in very major part, also driven by the fact that the short term capital gains tax would be too huge as they just had picked up the stake.
The sellers are not happy. Walmart is known for taking control of the entire supply chain end to end, and then push the costs down by squeezing out the margins.
The sellers clearly feel cheated as they were never taken into confidence for the deal and they believe that their concerns have not been addressed with this deal.
In an interesting development, eBay, a US ecommerce biggie has announced its plans to re-enter India.
Some experts say that this deal will mark a move by foreign companies to dominate entrepreneurship & innovation here.
It is quite possible that entrepreneurs may struggle to break into sectors ring-fenced by behemoths. Like we mentioned above that people would laugh on someone trying to enter ecommerce or I would say, even cab aggregation services. Just too much of foreign money ring fencing the sectors.
In 2007, Subhiksha Retail was on sale. Reliance group made an offer to them which they did not accept. Reliance never made a counter offer and we all know what happened to Subhiksha.
The way things were going, it was a lucky exit for the investors. In about 2-3 years, Amazon would have totally dominated the space. The competition pressure is written all over Flipkart. Flipkart has lost about 50% of the total $6 billion plus raised since inception till now.
Some critics also believe that Walmart could have spent $4bn in 3-4 years to come next to Amazon in India instead of spending $16bn on the deal. So are we saying that even after all this noise, the enterprise never added value. It would have died a natural death had it not been bailed out?
The largest Foreign Direct Investment?
It is being touted as India’s largest FDI or Foreign Direct Investment. The claim has many holes to it. First, the investment is not into India. The asset being sold is a Singapore company & not an Indian company (we will read more about it later).
Second, the cash is not coming to the company but going to the shareholders so it is not direct. It is like, as RaghavBahl, puts it – a secondary market transaction. It is not an investment into the country as no new asset is being created but the existing shareholders are being replaced.
And last but not the least, lion’s share of this amount will not be coming to India. Estimated $13-14 billion will flow out to countries like US, China, South Africa, Japan. India, at best could get only about $2 billion.
The policy conundrum – the workaround& the web of lies!
When Flipkart was launched and they ended up getting their first million in funding, there was only a small regulatory hurdle. Indian laws didn’t allow FDI in online retail. Thus was born a workaround, W S Retail. An offline book seller, commerce without the ‘e’. While Flipkart was labelled a technology platform.
As the investors started queuing up, there were more ‘workarounds’ needed. In 2011, it was thought that it would be best to dump the Indianness and thus was born Flipkart Pvt Ltd in Singapore.
Just think of it – here was this budding asset building up on potential of India’s ecommerce industry but Indian capital could no longer be a part of this story. Remember how we mentioned the big funds ring fence not only the sectors, but the companies as well.
Any Indian resident putting money in Singapore holding company would be penalized by Indian laws here. Ridiculous, but this was happening.
Over the yearsFlipkart came up with 8 entities – 3 in Singapore, 5 in India. All in a pretty complex structure for managing various aspects of business. As ED sniffed something on it, in 2012 half of WS Retail was owned by couple of ex-employees.
The Bansals and their relatives resigned from the board. Technically, the entire setup was still selling 75% offline through WS retail. Can you believe it? The bureaucrats did.
The fight spilled over to the court. It was clear the FDI rules were being circumvented and the traditional trade associations sued the Govt over it. The Court ordered investigation into several e-commerce companies – Flipkart was the main target.
As usually happens, everybody got a clean chit; but the government came up with another workaround called an ‘online marketplace’, which continues to operate even today.
Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos – entrepreneurs from US & China. All have close to half a trillion worth of market cap. The Indian boys got mired in bureaucracy and sold every bit of equity they had. They managed to raise $6bn but ultimately sold off their dream for $21 bn, roughly about 3.5 times of what they raised.
TRAGEDY. Though we may clap for this $21bn, we should never forget it is just a drop in the big ocean of world capital. While the world’s big poster boys are running free to chase their dreams of trillion dollar valuations, see how cheap we, as a country, have sold nearly 40% of our online retail industry. All this while killing aspirations of brightest entrepreneurs.
I just hope that some policy maker sees the disappointment in the whole euphoria and does something about it.