India's Alibaba: IndiaMART's Network Effects
Dinesh Agarwal and Brijesh Agrawal ("DA & BA") established IndiaMART with around US$1100 savings in 1996. By 2014, "IndiaMART.com is India's largest online marketplace for Small & Medium Size Businesses". Its revenue for the year ended March 2014 reached US$32 million. "The company offers a platform & tools to over 1.5 million suppliers to generate business leads from over 10 million buyers... (It) has over 2600 employees located across 40+ offices in the country". In keeping with its growth plans, the company evaluates various capital raising activities from time to time, including public or private placement opportunities. Factors that would benefit the company's valuation include a strong track record of year-on-year growth, a sustainable revenue basis from diversified product categories, a strong, huge, and active user base, and a solid conversion rate of buyer- leads to revenue dollars for its suppliers. The downside, though, is that the company has not been generating operational profits for five years since 2010. From scratch to US$32 million revenue, DA & BA have led the company's many evolutions; what are the major considerations in building the present business model? How do they ensure the development of strong networks in every product category of the multiple-sided platform? One criticism of IndiaMART's weakness is easy replicability - what is the founders' response in mitigating risks presented by this weakness? What should IndiaMART do to attract a fair valuation?