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September 05, 2011's Sanjeev Bikhchandani on the new e-commerce boom

Extracts from the interview appearing in the latest issue of the Indian Angel Network's newsletter:

As far as E-Commerce is concerned, it is becoming a big money game and you will see companies either succeed massively or blow up in style. What is somewhat worrisome is the tendency of some E-Commerce companies to scale up sales even if they are negative margin, the more you sell the more you lose. Investors also need to ask probing questions about revenue recognition practices. There are some smoke and mirrors out there. I expect sanity to return to this space sometime in the next two years. Excessive valuations will be corrected. The smoke will clear and dodgy accounting practices will be recognised for what they are. People will not be selling below variable cost anymore.

...For the most part people are starting off aping successful businesses in the West. You can’t blame the entrepreneurs alone for this, since these are also the models for which funding comes easier because the VC’s feel more comfortable funding stuff that has done well in the US. Having started however, smart teams are morphing the model to suit local conditions and so the Indian flavours start emerging in a couple of years after the first round of funding. Purely Indian models, in general, need to bootstrap longer and deliver more results in order to get Series-A funding. But they may end up winning bigger in the long run.

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