Easy Discounts not Path to Growth, Feel Unicorns

COURSE CORRECTION At a panel discussion involving founders of billion-$ startups, panelists agreed it was time to focus on sustainable growth
As India’s unicorns, or companies with at `6,500 crore) in least $1 billion (.valuation, continue on their supercharged growth trajectory, creating a long-term sustainable model and moving beyond discounting is clearly something on top of their agenda. Fuelled by billions of dollars in funding from investors such as Japan’s SoftBank, New York-based investment firm Tiger Global and China’s Alibaba Holdings, most of these companies have been chasing growth over profitability till now.“The future of our business is going to be providing easy credit not easy cash-backs. We hear a lot of cash-back stories right now in our market, but over a period of time we have to provide liquidity to both the demand side and the supply side,“ said Kunal Bahl, cofounder and CEO of Snapdeal, which was valued at around $4.8 billion in its latest funding round in August. Being nimble-footed and ready for change will be the mantra for further success as unicorns keep adding new business to differentiate themselves from competition. And hiring and retaining the best talent will play a pivotal role, as these companies search for top talent.

These were some of the key takeaways from a panel discussion involving the founders of India’s billion-dollar startups at the Jio Economic Times Startup Awards on Monday evening.The panelists included InMobi’s cofounder & CEO Naveen Tewari, Quikr’s founder & CEO Pranay Chulet and Ola’s cofounder & Chief Technology Officer Ankit Bhati, besides Bahl. The discussion was moderated by Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet.

And even as these unicorns continue to raise record amount of capital, it is important for them to not get distracted from building the businesses and retain a startup culture. “In our company there is this word that we are an overgrown startup so we just do not want to change that culture…companies when they grow big they start getting a little rigid and in our industry that is a symbol of pure death,“ said Chulet.

This means keeping the tap open on innovation for these emerging Internet conglomerates, which could be experimenting with businesses such as food delivery and building a payments business. “A startup goes through a lot of changes; by the time you make it through to the end you are successful because the idea that you eventually implement is very different. The only reason it can happen is if the people who start the company are open and can challenge each other,“ said Bhati.And since Indian unicorns are now competing with global players -Flipkart and Snapdeal are being challenged by Amazon while Ola is battling Uber -these companies need game-changers in innovation models. “We need to continuously be at the forefront of innovation because we end up competing with Google and Facebook for majority of our business. About three years ago, we realised that the most important job for the cofounders and me is essentially HR (human resource management),“ said InMobi’s Tewari.

Bhati of Ola said hiring is the biggest challenge right now, which found resonance from both the founders of Snapdeal and InMobi, who said recruitment is their main role at the company.“Both (cofounder) Rohit (Bansal) and I have been executive recruiters the last six months; we have been running around the country hiring great members to fit in all those gaps in our team and in our own skill sets,“ said Bahl.

Source: The Economic Times


Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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