Chasing break-even a mistake; products should have been early focus: Info Edge’s Hitesh Oberoi

Info Edge India Ltd, which operates customer-centric portals such as Naukri.com and 99acres.com, feels that the company should have invested more in technology and products in its early years, instead of just looking to reach break-even.

“In the early years, we were looking to achieve break-even with the resources we had. I now realise that was a mistake. We should have invested aggressively in technology,” Info Edge MD and CEO Hitesh Oberoi said during a fireside chat with Jayabalan Subramanian (co-founder and CTO of NetMagic Solutions) at Techcircle’s DEMO India event in Bangalore.

Talking about building blue-chip product technology companies in India, Oberoi also said that in order to survive in the software business, one should capitalise on whatever succeeds at the firm – be it a product or a feature or a thought process. “It is one of the lessons we learnt from our experience. If you are just focusing on a successful product, you can scale it up – so that you will gain better traction,” he said.

During the discussion, speakers also observed that it is difficult to build a successful product business in the country. “India can build a billion-dollar company if entrepreneurs here go deep into it and understand what our people really want. But they also need to study the culture, philosophy and the mindset of people. We have diverse cultures and hundreds of languages. Unless you don’t realise the total impact, it will be difficult to build a successful product business here,” said NetMagic CTO Subramanian.

According to Subramanian, it is the focus and the relationship which are driving the growth of a company. “You can’t afford to lose you focus. Also, you need to build relationship with your customers, as well as various industry people. Once you establish contacts with your customers, they will do the selling for you,” he added.

Oberoi said that product startups in India have a huge opportunity in similar Asian markets. “We have operations in the Gulf countries as the majority of the workforce in those countries are Indians. Also, other Asian markets like Sri Lanka and Pakistan are yet to be tapped by product companies. They are very similar to Indian markets and Indian entrepreneurs should think of exploiting these opportunities. For that, you should be able to pick up signals from customers early on. However, it would be hard to sell in European or the American countries as their customer behaviour is entirely different from those of Indians,” he concluded.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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