Building future Business: India@100

Building future Business: India@100

When we wanted capital, we did not get money” – Deepinder Goyal – Founder and CEO of Zomato $13 billion enterprise – poster boy of India@60 –Zomato was founded in 2008

We focused on survival, for days, for weeks and some months – success tasted after years” – that was Sanjiv Bikhchandani, founder of Info Edge – early investor in Unicorns including Zomato and Policy Bazaar – product of liberalised India –-took to entrepreneurship in 1990.

Listened to my Professor Mr. C.K. Prahlad’s advice to open the door to new entrepreneurs, give them capital and knowledge” more so, when I did not like our own large businesses –– my first Fund 14 years before, with 600 investors, was born to Empower next gen entrepreneurs like Deepinder” – Gopal Srinivasan, Founder TVS Capital Funds – first institutional investor in NYKAA way back

  • Unbelievable statements but true. Obviously, there were more and why not?
  • if three iconic entrepreneurs of different eras come together on a single platform to discover future of India@100, it cannot but be exciting.

To hear them out, directly, I plugged into special invite from Shri Vikash Agarwal, President, Indian Chamber of Commerce [ICC] – many may not know, ICC would be celebrating its centenary celebrations in a few years from now – got me a sense of pride in joining the event.

Who can be better choice to lead the discussion on India@100 other than Mr. Rajan Navani, MD&CEO of Jetline Group and National Chairman of CII’s Council on Future Businesses, India@75

Optimism was all pervading.  Naturally.  10 years ago, India’s GDP was half of France – last year we managed to push them behind. Gopal said – we may reach India@100 in less than 25 years- what a statement – India’s GDP could grow easily to $10-$15 trillion by then.

Let me break the whole conversations into different buckets as I briefly recall:

What makes you succeed?

What takes to build future businesses?

What are key learnings and suggestions?


  • Success is result of continuous trying and hard work. As Sanjiv said, we first focussed on survival. We did not have money for weeks in initial years -literally broke up – so success at that time for us was survival.  Endorsed by Deepinder -Focus on customer and his experience- success would automatically follow; for the first 4/5 years we focussed on doing what we know and could – we failed – later we started focussing on what the world wanted us to do and there we are now before you. Gopal in his true style said follow your Vasanas – follow your Swadharma -not Paradharma – try what is natural and do your best and focus on execution.
  • Success is also not to fix up with an obsessed goal? Sanjiv said we tried several ideas and stumbled upon Naukri –it was an experiment after 6/7 years where we found the right connect to the demand and stuck to it; Deepinder said we had several goals – shifted goals from years – ultimately when we found this business exciting. Gopal followed it up with Vedanta when he said Vedanta is for entrepreneurship and entrepreneur focussing on execution of what you can do best. Gopal started his entrepreneurial journey to address shortage, which was everywhere – when India was riddled with long term optimism and short-term pessimism – It all changed again when he met Mr. C.K. Prahlad who told him to come out of multi-generational family business to open the door for new entrepreneurs- insisted on Old India meeting New India.
  • Success is working for customer experience and his satisfaction; try creating value for customer. Success is not in chasing valuation. Valuation would follow those who create values for customers. We need to be one step ahead of change always. Therefore, we need to keep working on this.
  • Of course, Govt policies, mobile telephony, data explosion, increased digitisation all contributed to success in every sphere

Building future businesses

  • Rajan set the context rolling – In Fortune 500, we have just 2. When India@100, can we have at least 15 companies there?
  • Large companies have built on home markets first and then expand globally – take example of Google or Amazon; even in China they played on domestic economy first before expanding their footprint- Need to build something for India first ; capture the domestic story in full, valuation would easily follow – for example Zomato has presence in 14 countries but main feed is in India – If India witnesses growth successfully then I think we can easily ride on that to build great businesses – Sanjiv shared.
  • Visualising India@100 is like witnessing Vishwaroopam – beyond our normal imagination – 15 years before things were totally different – even a few years before, when we discussed on Swiggy or Zomato, we used to estimate on 2 / 3 million deliveries in a month – now Deepinder would counter these deliveries in a minute – this has been made possible through technology. Gopal added by reiterating that we should focus on what we could do best and emphasised on three key Pramanas to facilitate this
    • Atmanirbharta – domestic capital –
      • Govt is doing a lot – created a Fund of funds through SIDBI. We were beneficial. It has helped flow from other contributors with multiplier effect. But still, if we see, 85% of capital into the start up eco system is from overseas money- need to pool in more from large patient capital lying with PFRDA/Pension Funds etc. with ~₹ 20 lakh cr; even if ₹1 or ₹2 lakh cr flows to this, it can make a huge difference. Info Edge or Sanjiv are exception to support Zomato or Policy Bazaar. Global funds are driving up the major decision swaying the flow.
      • Democratise domestic capital – provide more access to non-English speaking disruptors or innovators; no of such people coming out from smaller towns; bring social equity- Like what Mr. Kamath used to bring in bright boys (local dialects and non-english) from smaller towns in ICICI Bank with native intelligence.

Rajan endorsed this to state that during a recent College interaction he found that more than 60% wants to be job creators than job seekers –

  • Taxation – disparities
    • Long term capital gains taxation differentiation between public and private markets to go – riskier investments attract higher taxation at > 27% while public markets attract 10%

Rajan emphasised to compare this with Capital gains offset in land sale – when Capital gains from exits is invested in another start up similar concession could be considered.

  • Adoption of digitisation
    • Govt has pioneered more digital initiatives and created public digital infrastructure, be it UPI, or JAM trinity – We should try to fully exploit and embrace this. In the NIFTY basket, 17% comes from IT sector exporting about $130 bn – but pureplay digital is just 2.5% of market cap if you exclude conventional IT and IT services. This must grow. Even many of old and traditional business have not fully adapted themselves. This should change and they should drive this.
  • Deepinder was quick to point out that out of $1 bn raised $900 million came from overseas – 66% of his capital is owned by overseas firms – because of absence of availability of large amount of risk capital in India, till recent times – but he said, a few factors to ring in
    • Investors should try to “partner” with the founders and not try to own them- we want to help the new founders unlike VC Funds who chase monthly MIS ignoring larger picture-Every five-year new product cycle emerges- we need to support and nurture the ambitions of such founders.
    • When Zomato tries to invest in another start up it is treated as FDI. We are all Indian, – founders, employees, end users and the entire services in India. But just because 66% capital is from outside our investment in India is treated as FDI. This should change and we should be equated to domestic capital.
  • Gopal built on this to add that this is the new culture – every part of India trying to help every other part of India – what he saw when he invested in NYKAA as well – cycle effect – successful start-up founders supporting other start-ups – great thing happening and has created kind of an investing culture

Key learnings and suggestions


Sanjiv – Startups are no doubt good asset class – but need to study properly and make a systematic and informed call- diversify risk appropriately. Need to wait for long to see results. When Info Edge went public in 2006, one of the objectives in the DRHP to pursue in organic growth as we were profitable. Valuations were high. Decided to invest in innovators and disruptors. Found Foodiebay and now Zomato. Started investing with 1.5 persons in 2007.  For the first 5/6 years nothing worked. We stayed put for long. From 2010 I spent full time investing. We continue still. Zomato, for example, we have now invested for 14 years. If you want to exit early, you have to sell stake to Series B investors, but the company might not have scaled its full potential by then. Culture of investing in intangibles is growing but it is better to use PE/VC Funds like TVS Capital as this requires considerable time and effort.

Gopal – There is huge selection bias – I saw 31 deals in the last quarter –– 17 companies have moved up from series A to B – with increase in valuation by 4.78x. There is a question of access to right deals which gets cornered by Funds whom the Founders see as bringing value to them. There is therefore greater probability for Funds to get winners – it would be easier to join the race through the Fund. Family offices who have been the backbone for promotion of entrepreneurship in India, if they can spend time and resources with right team can of course pursue this. Gopal added that there is no need to choose or pursue any particular sector as we are talking of India touching $10-$15 billion driven by huge consumption story. Let’s focus on Swadharma instead of Paradharma –where we see strength from within and let’s follow that – lets follow our own vasanas – he added.


Gopal – Ignore valuations – matter of context. During the last two years I saw that Central Banks have expanded their balance sheet by nearly $35 trillion (appx 30% of Global GDP). This has obviously brought down yields and increased flows to EMs including India. Now there is confluence or Sangam between Public and Private markets in terms of valuations. No more PE deals are happening at discount to public market. Public markets may now start on focussing on growth in place of EBITDA.

Sanjiv – never chase investment. Focus on product and customer. Valuations would automatically flow in. Spend time on building product and user experience. We chased Deepinder to invest in Zomato when we found that this is truly disruptive.

Deepinder – when we wanted to raise money we did not get. We started looking from within. We started on focussing what the world wants us to do and build. We worked on this continuously and investors came rushing. So Outside In approach is better than inside out.


                   Change is constant and certain. When new technology comes it disrupts. We have seen what Zomato or Policy Bazaar has done. Answer is how you are going to embrace the new technology quickly. How are you going to digitise your operations? What is required is embrace the change and adopt it. On the other side, there is a huge talent shortage despite demographic dividend. What needs to be done is to train continuously to equip them to face the change.

Gopal said traditional business should not be trapped to their old businesses especially when dealing with next gen. Give some capital and don’t expect them to do what was done years before. Let them learn to do what they can do. Follow higher cause and give them freedom to follow their vasanas.

Quote of the day to conclude:

How to handle failures – Take a deep breathe and think of next steps – Deepinder.

KI.Mani – Sr. Advisor TVS Capital Funds

30th October, 2021

Share this Article