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Showing posts from June, 2012

A Nation of App Developers?

Looks like the built-in business model in the mobile apps space (unlike the Internet where everything is expected to be free) is unleashing an entrepreneurial wave across the country. From the Business Today article: From New Delhi to Nagpur, Salem to Sonepat, companies developing apps are mushrooming everywhere. There are about 9,000 of them in India at present, estimates Convergence Catalyst, a research firm, all seeking a slice of the $8.5 billion global app revenue pie. Another estimate puts the number of app developers in India at 250,000. A few have already won global recognition: Aadhar Bhalinge, for instance, won $20,000 in a World Banksponsored online apps contest with his 'Smart Rickshaw Network' app, which proposed employing rickshaw wallahs in developing countries to feed live traffic updates into a subscription service. "It is very empowering," says Sharad Sharma, Chairman of the NASSCOM Product Forum, and a former CEO of Yahoo! India R&D. "Two

Happening Desi FMCG Companies

Business Today has a cover story on various regional Indian FMCG companies - including Vi-John | Havmor | Sakthi Masala | Mapro | Dantadhavanachoornam | Sosyo | Wagh Bakri | Kalimark - that are giving their MNC competitors a run for their money. In the Rs 350-crore male grooming market, sophisticated brands such as Gillette and Axe may be more visible, but in the basic category of shaving creams, Vi-John sells more than twice as many units as Gillette, according to Nielsen India data shared by an industry source. ...Wagh Bakri, which has a share of almost 50 per cent of the Gujarat market, and around seven per cent of the Indian market for branded tea, is steadily becoming a national brand, as it already has a presence in more than seven states. ...Also on our list of tenacious brands are Sosyo, a soft drink brand, and Havmor ice cream, both popular in Gujarat, Mapro fruit products from Maharashtra, soft drink maker Kalimark and Sakthi Masala from Tamil Nadu, H

Deal Alert: OneAssist gets funded by Sequoia and Lightspeed Advisors

From the Press Release:  OneAssist Consumer Solutions Pvt Ltd, an assistance company, was founded in 2011 by Gagan Maini and Subrat Pani and has Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners as its marquee investors. OneAssist today announced the launch of its first few products – WalletAssist, MobileAssist, EverydayAssist and TripAssist. In an increasingly time poor world where the pressures of modern life bring many associated worries, OneAssist aims to create a ubiquitous platform for assistance and protection programs across different verticals helping consumers manage their lives without disruptions. OneAssist believes that a few essentials that form part of people’s everyday life also significantly increases their dependency on them – mobile phone, credit and debit cards, KYC documents and financial documents, passport for example are an integral part of a large number of people’s routine lives. Loss of any of these objects mostly leaves a person stranded and very he

Deal Alert: CloudByte Receives $2.1 mn Series A funding from Nexus Venture Partners

From the Press Release: CloudByte Inc., building next generation storage virtualization products, announced that it has raised $2.1 million in a Series A funding led by Nexus Venture Partners. Kae Capital also invested as a part of this fund raise.   CloudByte Inc. was founded a year ago by a team of senior technology professionals with extensive experience at Novell, NetApp, HP, Juniper Networks, Bell Labs, and Amazon, and a background in creating, developing and managing products in cloud storage and security technology areas. Srivibhavan Balaram, Founder & CEO, CloudByte, said, “Storage virtualization is far behind server virtualization in terms of delivering security, predictable performance and high utilization in a manageable and cost effective manner. The CloudByte solution bridges this gap by delivering full-functionality storage virtualization so that enterprises and cloud service providers can reap the full benefits of a virtualized data center. The funding w

Luis Miranda On Valuations

Former IDFC PE CEO Luis Miranda has started a on the Forbes India web site with a post on (what else?) valuations. And, given the topic, it's no surprise that several PE professionals have chimed in with comments. It doesn’t make sense for investors to get a “cheap” deal or for entrepreneurs to con investors into paying too high a price. If this happens there is no true partnership and as the comedian Russell Peters said, “Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad”. India is a high-growth economy, irrespective of what foreign investors say and what the government does or does not do. And in a high growth economy it is even more difficult to predict future prices, volumes, competition, etc. So, if there is a serious valuation mismatch one has to look at structures to bridge the gap–if the entrepreneur wants too high a valuation, a structure can be worked out where if targets are not met, the investor’s shareholding in the company ratchets up. Alternatively, and this is a framework that I

Deal Alert: YourNest Angel Fund invests in Mycity4kids

From the Press Release: Just4Kids Services Ltd, the parent company that owns the mycity4kids brand, has raised funding from YourNest Angel Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund. mycity4kids is a vertical e-commerce portal focussed exclusively on local kids-related services for children up to the age of 14. Parents can visit the site to search for information, look for recommendations and pay, thereby completing the entire purchase process online. The exhaustiveness of the listings, the ability to search on the basis of locality, the child’s age, reviews and ratings and pay online or by availing the cask pick-up facility, make it a must-have tool for all parents in every city. With 120 lac households present in the top 16 cities in India, the market for kids’ services is estimated to be worth Rs. 15,000 crores. mycity4kids is the first venture not only in India but also globally to create a unified platform for parents to find services for kids. The portal also pro

Harsh Mariwala launches entrepreneur mentoring foundation Ascent

To start with Mumbai- & Pune-based entrepreneurs Harsh Mariwala, who has steered Marico to grow in sales from Rs. 40 lac in 1971 to Rs. 4,000 crore today, has launched a foundation - ASCENT (short for Accelerating the SCaling up of ENTerprises) - that will identify entrepreneurs with potential and enable them in their growth journey. ASCENT offers a unique and powerful ” self-help” platform through the formation of TRUST GROUPS of 10 Entrepreneurs each. Each Trust Group will comprise non-competitive, diverse groups of entrepreneurs. We aim to start with 10 TRUST groups in Mumbai and Pune, and over the next few years scale up ASCENT to a much larger size pan-India. The interaction in the Trust Groups has been designed to provide value to entrepreneurs , using the power of learning in a Group , specifically through the following: · Facilitation – ASCENT will provide experts who will play a value adding role as Initiators and Trainers for the Group in its first

Do single product e-tailers have an edge?

The debate that must have had about 15 years ago - whether it should stick to selling books or move into other categories - is now happening at niche Indian e-tailers. From a Business Today article . Niche players have two kinds of clientele. "In the cities, they provide convenience and value, while in the small towns they provide availability," says Raghav Gupta, Principal at investment firm Booz and Co. Increasingly, a substantial part of these websites' patrons come from Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where many now have the purchasing power to afford the best, but often cannot find shops in their area selling premium products and brands. "We see a lot of high value electronic items being bought from smaller cities," says Arindam Bose, MD and Chief Customer Officer, timtara. Amin of bestylish says half his orders come from the smaller cities. As for items like lingerie, many small town folk prefer buying online rather than at a store. "The socia

Can E-Grocers take on the Kirana Stores?

Business today has an article on the challenges facing BigBasket and its smaller competitors. One reason why no e-grocery startup other than BigBasket has managed to raise money is that margins are wafer-thin. "At a gross margin of 12 to 15 per cent, profitability cannot be more than two per cent," says Gaurav Saraf, Director of Epiphany Ventures, a venture capital firm. The gross margin on fast-moving consumer goods is as low as 14 per cent. On fruit and vegetables, it is around 16 per cent but shelf life is shorter. This is why many sites, including MyGrahak and FamilyKart, stay away from fresh produce. BigBasket, however, says it has no problem. "Fruit and vegetables are procured only on order, except for those with a longer shelf life, such as potatoes and onions," says Menon. "This reduces loss of stock by three to four per cent." One of the biggest rivals of e-grocers is the local kirana store, which offers home delivery in many cities, often within

"No More E-Commerce": Flipkart investor

“We were the first fund to invest in e-commerce trading platforms in India. We don’t think all the companies funded are bad. However, now many ‘me too’ kind of companies are coming up. We believe there is not much room for new e-commerce companies to come and exist...There are opportunities for the existing e-commerce companies to scale up and they may attract investments from some of the later-stage VCs. But we are not planning to seed-fund any new firm. Now, there are talks of consolidation and acquisition between portfolio companies and other e-commerce companies” - Prashanth Prakash, Partner, Accel Partners in an interview to Business Standard. On a related note, Nasscom's Emerge Forum has a series of posts on e-commerce in India. One of the lesser known factors behind e-commerce growth has been the increased adoption of online buying model by smaller cities. With 30 million active Internet users in these cities, the contribution to e-commerce sales in India is estimated to