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B2B e-commerce is tougher than B2C e-commerce: IndiaMart founder

Dinesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of IndiaMart InterMESH Ltd, one of the country’s largest homegrown listing platforms connecting buyers with suppliers, has been part of India’s entrepreneurial scene for two decades now.

Agarwal and Brijesh Agrawal started IndiaMart in 1996, much before the era of e-commerce and tech startups began. The company also launched Tolexo.com, an online marketplace for businesses, in 2014.

IndiaMart recently raised an undisclosed amount in Series C funding led by Amadeus Capital with participation from WestBridge Capital, Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund (managed by Quona Capital) and existing investor Intel Capital. The funding round came after a gap of almost six years.

In an interview with TechCircle.in, Agarwal reveals that IndiaMart has been a frugal company and refutes the ideology that huge investment only builds big businesses.

“We have been a frugal business. The first time we raised money was after 10 years of our existence and we have been a profitable company for those years. We really don’t think by investing lot of money you can build big businesses,” he says.

Agarwal shed light on IndiaMart’s IPO plans and said that the company will work towards achieving predictable growth for Tolexo or IndiaMart before going for IPO. “As soon as we get a hang of growth and profitability or predictable growth for IndiaMart and Tolexo combined, we will go for an IPO,” he said.

During the conversation, Agarwal hinted that the company could look at a new venture that would cater to purchases between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

“For Rs 1 lakh and above purchases IndiaMart would always be suitable. For Rs 10,000 and less purchases Tolexo is suitable. We are trying to find what we can do for Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh purchases. If the pilot experiments work out well, it would be expected,” Agarwal said.

With investor interest in B2B companies rising, Agarwal also sounded a word of caution. “B2B e-commerce space is more difficult than B2C e-commerce space. Let’s learn from the mistakes done in B2C places and try not to replicate the same.”

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