Strapped in? Ready to go? Because 2015 is going to be a tech infused tornado! I’m bracing myself. I predict unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, ecommerce.
2014 was one of the most prolific years we’ve had in terms of the number of startups, fundings, valuations, and user growth in India. In 2015, we should see the fruits of that labor in several spaces – look out for many fledgling companies to mature and grow at a pace we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago, or even just a year ago.
Many companies will come out winners, but there are a few spaces that I’m most excited to monitor for the next year. Mainly because I was skeptical about them 12 months ago and they’ve really started making me a believer.
They’re all here and in a big way. From grocery plays, to food ordering, to food delivery. And as a consumer – I’m loving it. Sure, there are hiccups and there are service issues but nothing that can’t be ironed out with money and time.
Let me be honest – I was quite skeptical of a lot of these plays 12 months ago. Online grocery players, for example – I wasn’t sure how one would differ from another. Would consumers just go to the one that gave them best deal that day and not care about the brand?
Every time they entered a new city, the whole network seemed like it needed to be re-created. And I think the biggest question for me was: how formidable a competitor the offline market experience experience was, convenience-wise, perishable items wise, selection wise and so on.
Today, I’m a user. And I’m quite a satisfied user. I like the convenience, the selection and the savings. And this is one area where mobile and data are going to have a huge impact. Lots of money is being thrown here and I’m very excited to see how it gets used.
Ditto for the food ordering and delivery space. I had two big concerns entering the year. One was whether the restaurants would play along. You’re so dependent on the very fragmented and “non-tech-oriented” mom and pop food players in this space and they can be so undependable. And if something goes wrong, the consumer ends up blaming you and not the restaurant! You see this happening in ecommerce marketplaces in the country all the time. “I ordered a phone and got a brick”. Here it’s very plausible that the food you ordered never gets delivered. Or it comes two hours later and now you’ve already eaten something else. How do you solve that? There’s no singular answer to that, but I’m starting to hop on to the “it will solve itself through the very mechanics of a marketplace” bandwagon.
Two, the logistics are complex AND the expectation in terms of delivery time is high. I’m not ready to wait 24 hours for food. I might not be ready to wait two hours for food or even one hour. But again, I’ve become a user of both services – and a believer in the need for the services and the potential that comes from them.
2014 saw a few services start breaking out in this area. I see a lot more money going here in 2015 – especially in delivery-based businesses. If done right, it’s a win-win for the entire eco-system. I can see a billion dollar business coming out of this.
This is one of my favorite spaces right now. I’m so excited with the potential of more companies coming into this space next year. We need to make it easier for small businesses to get access to working capital. Today, banks don’t have an answer for this without some kind of security or personal guarantee. That’s just ridiculous to me. I’ve personally had this problem when I founded my company over 10 years ago and so many of our portfolio companies also struggle with this issue – let alone the millions of SMEs across the country.
Today, financial technology companies can approach loans and repayments from a different angle. They can be built purely off data. And there is so much data available that robust risk models can give real insight on potential customers. Better models equal better products. I’m not sure how well this will translate into personal loans, but as a B2B business, if you do this right you will thrive – and there are several companies doing this right currently. I’m looking forward to meeting more companies in this area as the new year unfolds.
It’ll be interesting to see if some of these companies can also become the online lending platform for large banks or large NBFCs and start to target their customers. Give banks a cut. Why not? Need to dig deeper into this.
Has anyone realized how many content players are coming up online in India today – both startups and foreign sites? Quite a few. This is another space I really wasn’t excited about in January 2014. The big problem for me was digital ad spend – hell, ad spend in general in India is tiny. But as ecommerce grows, so does spending online – and boy, has ecommerce grown! That makes this space that much more intriguing.
I would bet much more money going into many different content plays in 2015. And there are so many plays – from blogs, to online news resources, to music, to MCNs (multi-channel networks) and video aggregators. I’m not sure which space within content excites me the most but I am leaning more toward original content plays. So MCNs that create new content and own the rights could be huge. Especially as smartphones become more ubiquitous and connectivity gets better. Again, I can see a lot of activity in this space in 2015.
So there you have it. This is what I’m entering 2015 thinking about. What’s everyone else excited about? Let me know in the comments section.