Story of Dinesh Agarwal, the man behind India’s second largest B2B marketplace – IndiaMart
At times, when one becomes an entrepreneur there are multiple aspects to consider and worry about. Instead of taking all possible precautions, certain aspects are completely out of one’s control. One such tale is of IndiaMart, which was hit by global factors twice but still emerged as one of India’s second largest B2B Marketplaces in the world.
Dinesh Agarwal joined HCL Technologies in 1990 and worked with them for a brief period of 6 years. As a net consultant, he realized the potential of the internet and the impact it could have on Indian masses. He believed that Small – Medium Enterprises (SME’s) of the country would benefit immensely. Having spotted the opportunity, he headed back to India and created the startup Intermesh, which made websites for Delhi-based companies like Nirulas. That is where his entrepreneurial journey began.
His company then developed IndiaMart, a directory of the sites that his company had created. The business evolved and turned into an online meeting place for exporters and importers. The nature of marketplace evolved with time and Agarwal realized he had to change with the times too. But, he knew that SME’s don’t have a lavish budget to splurge on advertising and IndiaMart was just the right platform. At first, they would generate 5-6 enquiries through personal contacts but Agarwal certainly knew they would scale up. SME’s started seeing value in this and jumped onto the bandwagon and within no time. Back then, Indiamart listed 70,000 businesses, had 1,000 paid suppliers and generated business worth Rs. 400 crore for its members. This was just initially.
Agarwal’s greatest challenge arrived when the e-commerce bubble burst in the year 2000. With several online businesses shutting down, IndiaMart still managed to register profits of Rs. 6 Lakhs. Post that, Agarwal knew the best way to move forward is to go global. Soon, IndiaMart became a marketplace from where any buyer or seller from across the globe can procure goods at their doorstep. But they suffered another setback when the terror attack on USA in 2001 cost them dearly. The revenues dropped around 40% and global economies slumped again. Agarwal did not lose heart and the following year chose to scale up again. Ever since, there has been no turning back for Agarwal and IndiaMart.
Currently, the site has more than 6 lakh online catalogues, over 55 Lakh products in more than 77,000 categories. The online market player above them is the Chinese marketplace giant Alibaba. With more than 3 crore visits each month from more than 50 lakh unique visitors, IndiaMart generates a business of more than Rs. 10,000 crore each year. Today, more than 50 Lakh buyers, 10 Lakh registered suppliers and over 50,000 paid customers are running their businesses successfully via IndiaMart.
In 2009, IndiaMart raised an undisclosed amount from Intel Capital. A total of $23 Million has been invested in the company. With 40 offices in 100 cities across the country and more than 2600 employees, IndiaMart is one of the biggest brands today in the country. Agarwal also launched Tolexo.com, which is an e-commerce portal for both buyers and sellers. They won’t be competing with the likes of Flipkart because the products and services offered are different.
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