India Not a Winner-Take-All Market, Says Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma at GMIC 2015

GMIC Bangalore 2015 kicked off on Thursday exploring aspects of the mobile ecosystem with the theme – ‘Mobile Everything – Connecting Innovation’.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion with the CEO and founders of three Indian startup unicorns – Flipkart, InMobi, and Paytm. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Sachin Bansal, and Naveen Tiwari spoke to a packed audience on the subject of Connecting India in a panel moderated by Vikram Chandra, CEO, NDTV.

Sachin Bansal of Flipkart spoke about why it makes sense to go app only – apps will form 90 percent of Internet consumption in a few years in India. “If you win on mobile, you win everything; If you lose on mobile, you lose everything!” he said. He said that the Internet will create a market capitalisation of $1 trillion in India in ten years, and that today’s valuations were justified.

On the subject of whether it’s a winner-take-all market, Sharma said that a lot of startups were not playing long, so a lot of them would fail, “because of the nature of the business.” He added, “I think all of us in this industry are trying to build through one unique differentiation, and expanding on that, whether it is through brand, logistics, or payment. There will be a pecking order for sure, but over the time the game becomes bigger.”

He also spoke about the winner’s curse: “Nokia won the phone business to lose the bigger smartphone business, BlackBerry won the business of smartphones to lose the bigger business of software. There are startups out there today that will become giants of tomorrow.”

Sachin Bansal said that India is always going to be a multiple player market, with the bigger threat always coming from new startups – “It’s an unknown unknown. If it took us five to seven years, it will take them half the time to reach similar levels. They have more money, and more users are available, and they know all the mistakes from the past,” he said, adding, “India is the last biggest market in the world. Everyone with their biggest pockets wants to play in this. Having seen the US, China game, they will play the game on their own strengths.”

Naveen Tewari, CEO of InMobi, said that augmented reality advertising was still a few years down the line, but that advertising would play a big role in it, and that they were a huge believer in it and had made investments on the same.

In a panel discussion about revolutionising mobile services, Rohit Bansal, Co-Founder and COOSnapdeal, said that the most important challenge was to give away control to people who are 18-21, who first saw a mobile screen, and let them solve their problems. He cited an office warming hackathon in Gurgaon, where 700 people participated.

Kunal Shah, Founder and CEO, Freecharge said that 85-90 percent of its transactions are on mobile, while 20 months ago, it was exactly the opposite. “The footfalls exist over here, the time is spent over here. Where time is spent, money will also be sent.”

He also said that India has a massive trust deficit – Payments will only happen when trust kicks in, which was based on speed as a parameter, explaining why Freecharge has a 60 kilobyte mobile site. “Slow Internet is the most acute pain we feel. Nobody is going to wait for your product to work.”

He spoke about the mobile first ‘ungli’ generation, who have now become the chief procurement manager (CPO) of the household.

The event saw panels on topics like glocalisation, the future of travel, monetising on mobile.

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