26 June 2017

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Merchant of Fair Deals

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Kunal Bahl

E-commerce is an industry which is growing at a very fast pace. By end of this year eCommerce market is estimated to be Rs 50, 000 crores. Given the growth of Internet penetration, higher disposable incomes, and increase in awareness levels for all things online, the set of opportunities that exist are vast, and vary from product to service oriented startups.

While e-commerce is considered at a growing stage in India, there is a success story already in this segment. We are talking about SnapDeal which became the face of India’s next generation online regime. In an exclusive interaction between Mr Kunal Bahl, co-founder & CEO of SnapDeal and Faiz Askari, Editor, Small Enterprise India, Mr Bahl unleashed some important aspects of his enriched experience.

Excerpts of the interview:

SmallEnterpriseIndia: As a startup what are the key challenges you faced while incepting SnapDeal?

Kunal Behl: One of the initial challenges was to hire people so that we can expand rapidly. We started operations from a residential area, which made it extremely difficult to hire people. Prospective employees didn’t turn up for interviews. We didn’t have good technology talent when we started, and that proved to be a big challenge given we were building an e-commerce platform. However, we were able to weather many of these challenges of attracting bright, talented professionals and today, 20 months since Snapdeal began, we have a team of 600+ very talented professionals in our organization across the country, which is expected to grow to 800 team members by the end of year

SEI: What are the key challenges usually faced by entrepreneurs specially in the internet domain?

KB: Building the right team is key to ensure that as a company you are able to focus on the multiple moving parts of the business.

SEI: How do you define the status of E-Commerce in India?

KB: India's e-Commerce industry is experiencing a spurt in growth in sectors like online travel, e-retailing, daily deals, jobs and matrimony. Though the growth in all of these sectors has been more than expected in the recent past, there is a lot more potential which is waiting to be tapped.

SEI: What roadmap do you foresee for the Indian E-Commerce industry?

KB: Highly concentrated urban areas with very high literacy rates, a vast rural population with fast increasing literacy rate, a rapidly growing internet user base, technology advancement and adoption and such other factors make India a dream destination for e-commerce players

SEI: Logistics and E-Payment are two essential and integral component of E-Commerce. What efforts can be made in these two areas in order to grow the market?

KB: E-payment is an important factor that limits the reach of online sellers to the consumers due to lack of faith in the security of online transactions. While it is normal for consumers in the west to shop online, Indians still prefer to pay through cash instead of revealing personal/card details over the internet. Building trust in the consumers’ minds about the service plays a very important role in ensuring that there is no hesitation before making a payment online. Also, strict security measures protecting data security is also crucial

A typical challenge faced in online logistics is that the customer is spread across length and breadth of the country and sometimes it becomes a logistic nightmare to make the product reach with in a time frame promised for delivery. Another issue being faced is that there are more than 2000 cities in India however the reach of most of the courier companies operating in this segment is limited which is a challenge and since most of the goods are shipped through air courier mode it limits the delivery of white goods like refrigerator, washing machines and LCD to limited number of cities. We work with a clutch of logistics’ partners to ensure the delivery times and meet the expectations of the customer.

 

SEI: Do you consider online Advertising as an important component of your SnapDeal. If Yes, please share your strategy?

KB: Yes, online advertising a critical component of our brand, but it is not the only channel for building an online brand. Online advertising is very effective, since the medium is the same, and the propensity to make the user try out the service is much higher. But a 360 degree approach is required to build the brand personality and ensure that the customers trust the brand.

SEI: SnapDeal has successfully raised capital. Please share your experience in this.

KB: Convincing the investors to fund our venture was one of the most difficult tasks. Initially when we started our project we had approached 15 venture capitalists and managed to get funds from just one. While some investors liked me idea, they believed that the Indian market would not embrace it. In the second leg of funding, we raised $12 million from two leading private equity players, Nexus Venture Partners and Indo US Venture Partners. 3 months back, we raised $40million from Bessemer Venture partners, and existing investors Nexus and IndoUS Venture partners

SEI: Also, can you share the IPO roadmap story?

KB: We will explore all options at the appropriate stage.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 November 2011 13:19 )  



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