Indian E-com Space Heavily Over-funded & Lacks Innovation, Say Investors; Do You Agree?


Coming, as it is, from investors we know this could portend bad news for Indian e-tailing startups looking to raise funding. But then you already knew that. The key lies in innovation rather than being Indian clones of successful global ventures, felt panelists at the national conference on digital commerce, organized by IAMAI.

Mohit Bhatnagar, managing director of Sequoia Capital India said market leaders are being established and the Indian e-com space will see a lot of shutdowns and consolidation in the coming times.

"We will also see new niche players entering the market. But there is definitely no space anymore in the market for Amazon wannabes," he said.


Although the quality of entrepreneurship has improved a lot in India, not much innovation is coming from youngsters, felt Avnish Bajaj, managing director of Matrix Partners India.

"We are essentially a copycat country; hence we are always trying to catch up with the west. And most of the Internet businesses in India are basically 'inventory e-commerce models'," he said.

According to him, most of the new entrepreneurs are basically people in their late twenties or early thirties who already have secure jobs, not just-out-of college graduates.


But entrepreneurs have their own grouse that investors are risk averse. This takes us to the classical entrepreneurs vs. venture capitalists' chicken and egg problem. Perhaps the problem also lies in the still nascent angel investment field which can give early support to fresh ideas.

Rajesh Sawhney, an active angel investor, pointed out that the social network of India is Facebook, while the social network of China is Renren and the search engine of India is Google while that of China is Baidu. "This basically means that Indian VC's don't actually have the opportunity of investing in such players, which in turn means that the return of investment is much less while the risk is more," he said.

He also reiterated that the country hasn't seen much innovation. "Where are the Instagrams, the Apples?" he asked.


The panel also voiced concerns over the government's proposal to tax angel investment.

Rajan Mehra, managing director of Nirvana Ventures Advisors, said lack of clarity is a bigger issue than the actual taxation. "Not everyone is worried about paying tax on angel investment, but all of them definitely want a clearer picture on how much to pay and how to pay," he said.

Coming back to the key point made by some investors, do you think there's a serious dearth of fresh ideas in India?