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Excl: Rocket Internet's top exec leaves to start 3 India-specific niche e-com properties

Berlin-based Rocket Internet GmBH, a venture arm of the Samwer brothers and known for cloning several successful online business models of the US in other markets, has lost one of its top executives to the e-commerce fever. William Pearce, managing director at Rocket Internet India (according to his LinkedIn profile), left the firm in September last year to start his own e-commerce initiative which is currently in stealth mode.

Pearce told Techcircle.in he is targeting niche verticals in luxury space and looking to launch three e-commerce properties simultaneously – one for luxury hotels, another targeting fashion and the third focusing on premium restaurants. However, all three verticals will operate under one brand name, he shared.

But is it the right time to enter the e-commerce space in India (especially with consolidations taking place and profitability still a far cry for many market leaders)?

"If it has to be e-commerce, India is the best market now. As far as niche ventures go, if one can get the recipe right, they can work. The verticals I am targeting are untouched as of now," said Pearce. But it will be at least a couple of months before his new venture goes 'live'.

Pearce joined Rocket Internet in November 2011 and was there for about a year. He was looking after as many as five Rocket Ventures in India. Prior to that, he had worked as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

There are rumours in the market that Rocket has recently lost quite a few senior management people although Pearce did not comment on the same.

Rocket has been aggressively building out its ventures in India and generic e-commerce firm Jabong.com remains its most serious bet till date. Some other Rocket ventures include 21diamonds.in, Officeyes.com and FabFurnish.com. Usually, the trend for Rocket ventures is to replicate the online business models of its global ventures and the new companies are sold after some time. But the investors seem to have put in too much money in Jabong – investing tens of millions every 6-9 months – it is rumoured, and they are not looking to sell it anytime soon.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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