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What does it take to run a successful digital business in India?
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What does it take to run a successful digital business in India?


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  • 2. So this is the question that I am addressing: What does it take to operate a successful digital business in India??
  • 3. I may as well have been trying to answer the question: What does it take to get World Peace?! Ok, a tad over-dramatic, I agree..  But given the few successes, a challenging question…
  • 4. Let’s set the framework clear though: What does it take to operate a successful digital business in India ??
  • 5. Successful / Digital / India
    • Real scale: beyond friends and family
    • Angel, VC funds or Biz plan competitions are not success: earning money, not burning money is what we are talking about
    • Hockey-stick curve, Brand, IPO!
    • Every biz has digital component; developing apps is software business
    • Digital: largely pure play online biz, any access device, e-com/digital del/portal etc.
    • India: ops based here, market can be global
  • 6. Let’s look at a few examples: Global and Indian
  • 7.
    • Understands its customer well
    • Makes it easy to purchase
    • Keeps innovating; awesome use of technology, but for benefit to the customer
    • Uses its reach to sell more; via brands, via user stores
    • Affiliate programs – online distribution network
    • Scale, mind-blowing SCALE
  • 8.
    • Early focus on doing one thing right – very right
    • A need that was virtually global – everybody searches!
    • Did all that others were not doing
    • How Free can be a lot of Money
    • Protect the key turf well; innovate to remain cutting edge
    • Scale, mind-blowing SCALE – yes again!
  • 10. Rediff in 1998: the Indian Yahoo?!
  • 11. Rediff in 2008: still looking a lot like Yahoo… !
  • 12. And Rediff it a Google look? Oops.. No, now it is a Facebook look.. ! When will the real Rediff stand up and be noticed??
  • 13.
    • The digital handshake model
    • At least one side of the handshake pays and pays well
    • A recurring requirement model
    • Improved on offline efficiencies
    • Generates good scale: companies keep needing people, people keep needing jobs
    • Gone offline, for growth and to meet stock market expectations!
  • 14.
    • Also a digital handshake model
    • Both sides may pay, or not pay
    • Not quite recurring, in India 
    • Some offline models still look better
    • Constantly acquiring new clients
    • For credibility, offline piece required
    • Offline necessity, call centers add huge cost, and reduce biz efficiency
    • But great model, all the same
  • 15. Shaadi vs Naukri: The Real Challenge!
  • 16. The Business Model
    • What is the market size?
    • Will it scale with technology or with on-ground presence?
    • What are the entry barriers? (How many of us can remember the 2 nd name in auction sites??)
    • Is the model simple for a consumer to understand?
    • Are you ready to ramp up in a hurry?
    • Is the revenue piece clear?
    • Is it fundamentally cash positive?
  • 17. It’s Digital and it’s India..
    • PC based user base is finite; is it still attractive enough for your plan?
    • Mobile access is an option for sure; does your service demand large screens?
    • Can you aim for a global market? (Just read today about Titan, VLCC, FabIndia, Just Dial and other retail brands going global – for digital brands, it’s got to be easier!)
  • 18. The Depth of your Pockets?
    • Technology costs; at some point, it will go beyond the hostel room and beyond pals!
    • Do not underestimate branding and marketing expenses; in the maze of the digital space, you may not be visible!
    • Cost of speed, cost of technology changes, cost of responding to surprises, cost of responding to competition with deep pockets
  • 19. Revenue: It’s not always the user of the service who pays!
    • Advertising
    • Subscriptions
    • Pay-per-view
    • Freemium
    • Affiliates
    • Lead Generation
    • Brand Placements
  • 20. In Summary
    • Clean, scalable digital business model
    • Technology strength – core competence
    • Smart not stupid – save money, where you can, but not at cost of service levels
    • Branding, smart marketing
    • Clarity of revenue model
    • Aim for the world – why can’t a Facebook or Twitter come out of India?!
    • Good investors and mentors are a huge plus
  • 21. Interesting models: which ones work?
    • DVD rentals
    • Used car sales
    • Text books – sales and library
    • Mobile payment services – aggregation
    • Group buying / reverse auction
    • My wish list: a model to manage my communication overload.. Any takers?!
  • 22. Thank you! Sanjay Mehta Jt. CEO, Social Wavelength Twitter: @sm63 Blogs: and