“Internet is the only non-resource based business where proportionately good valuations are available” – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI

Subho Ray, President, IAMAI

Founded in January 2004, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is the specialized industry body in India representing the interests of online and mobile value added services industry.

From promoting the intrinsic strengths of the digital economy, evaluating and recommending standards practices to the industry, to conducting research to creating platforms for its members and creating a constructive business environment for the industry, IAMAI is standing tall on its claims. According to the recent survey about 150 million people in India, or around 75 million households, are ready for ecommerce. In order to get more insight and gain more information on internet and mobile value added services as well as e-commerce in India, iamwire interacted with Subho Ray President, IAMAI. Here are the excerpts of the exclusive conversation.

Share some views on present time for online economy in India.

Online economy is doing very well especially after the slowdown in 2009. One important landmark that has been crossed recently is the 100 million internet user mark which was an important psychological mark for the internet economy. Within the internet economy, we have seen the gradual emergence of new segments such as social media which is now firmly established in India and ecommerce, which is now in the firm early phase. Internet advertising is growing at a healthy growth. What is very important for the internet economy is that many traditional online niche service such as grocery stores, shoe spas, tiffin delivery services and similar services are coming up in the online space. Another important recent development has been the take off of mobile internet, making many socially relevant services such as agricultural information etc. a reality. Of course there are problems too, not more than 10 per cent of the people using the internet carry out actual transactions and the revenue per user is possibly the least among major internet using countries. But I believe once internet is more broad based the critical mass of in-depth users will go up and more revenue per user will be realized.

What are your views over rows of investments, and high valuation India is able to attract, is it here for real? Or could it be a bubble?

There is a bubble hidden in any investment so I would not like to refer to any specific internet related bubble. I guess internet is the only non-resource based business where proportionately good valuations are available (most other businesses are based on cornering resources: land, bandwidth, mines, etc. through a license).To answer your questions the valuations for the India opportunity in internet are real. Whether the valuations of specific companies are real or not only thelife cycles of those companies will tell.

In your opinion how ready is India to experience this growth in online businesses, in view of laws, policies, etc.

Laws are not an impediment to the growth of internet businesses. There is no license required and as long as you are not breaking any law or engaging in any fraudulent services, you can start any internet business. Going forward however, I believe the impediment and resistance to online business is going to be more from established business interests than directly from the government.

What do you believe should be the action plan for government, or is it too early for online economy to gain government attention?

Government’s plan should be limited to providing infrastructure to all and accessibility to all (which is what they are trying to do) and let people use that infrastructure to their best advantage. This holds as good for internet as for any other business.

How do you foresee role of IAMAI in this entire eco-system and growth story?

IAMAI has a limited but expanding role in the entire eco-system. While we are proactive in identifying and carrying out any new role that may be needed from time to time for the benefit of the users and the industry; at present we limit ourselves to evangelising the medium, advocacy with the government, market and consumer research, propagating a safe and smart use of internet, developing new areas of online businesses and providing open “networking” opportunities to anyone interested in harvesting the benefits of internet. As you can guess, our hands are quite full.

What, in your views, could further foster the growth of online in India? Is there still something missing to complete the growth story?

One key factor this is still lacking is we need very good people to run this industry – both as entrepreneurs and as managers. There is a severe lack of such people.

 What message would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?

There are no shortcuts even in the internet businesses.

 How would you describe present time in Online India, in one word?


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    I too agree with Mr. Ray that e-commerce is rocking! But there is a lot to be looked upon which no one is addressing. Yes there is huge potential in India Inc but current state norms restricts to this growth. Our each state is a country by itself, for eg. if a customer wants to purchase something in Kolkatta or in UP, the state norms restricts the sale as the person need to have respective state entry/clearance form to purchase a commodity (which he cannot obtain easily, it is for the convenience factor that person is going for an online option) thus the sale goes for a toss. The other option is to maintain local inventories in such states, which attracts cost & eats up to wafer thin margin in this venture.

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    Online shopping in India is a growing trend. For the growing and earning India, online shopping is like a convenient store that is open 24X7. You can shop whenever you have the time – no worries that the shop will close shutters at 8 pm.

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