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Millennium Post

‘Dream big, Start small’

When and how did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
Since school itself, (though the goal was fuzzy then), I knew that I wanted to become an entrepreneur someday. As I went through college and management school, this goal became sharper and more focused. I went on to work for five years in other companies and then became an entrepreneur.

What kept you going doing your initial struggle days?
I loved the independence and freedom that I got while creating this venture. I was quite happy even though the company was small and was not making a lot of money.

How did you build your initial team for Naukri?
Most entrepreneurs initially look to work with people they know and have within their network. Similarly, the initial team for Naukri comprised of people I knew or had studied, worked with.

You got the idea to start Naukri.com in 1991 but it came into existence in 1997. What happened during this time?
The idea to start Naukri.com actually came in 1990. In the interim, we did many other things like making reports, collecting databases, consulting, teaching, training and writing.

How are you advantaged or disadvantaged vis-à-vis well known brands such as Times (jobs) which is also in this business now?

Naukri.com currently has a 63 per cent traffic share. We have over 35 million registered jobseekers with a client base of over 50,000 recruiters (companies and consultants).  But ultimately it is the quality of our people which is our biggest advantage.

With the economic downturn, you’re one of the very few players who survived. How?

We survived the economic downturn by staying focused, consistently delivering value to our consumers, being frugal and sticking to the knitting.

What’s the future of dot coms? Give us an industry scenario?
The Internet is making rapid strides. The usage is only going to grow, be it on laptops, tablets or mobiles. There is enough funding for good companies and a lot will depend on execution. Overall it is a vibrant industry with strong growth prospects.

What are the new areas you’re presently working on?
We have four verticals within the company – Naukri.com (jobs), 99acres.com (real estate), jeevansathi.com (matrimony) and shiksha.com (education).  We have also made strategic investments in start-ups like Mydala, Zomato, Meritnation, Policybazaar, Canvera and Happily Unmarried that operate in diverse areas.

How did the IPO happen?
The company was performing well, growing fast and profitable. In 2005, we felt that it was the right time to explore the option of an IPO and the market conditions were favourable as well. Thus we went on to make a public listing in 2006.
The Indian government has put restrictions on FDI in e-commerce. What’s your take on it?
In our opinion, e-commerce is good for the country and should be encouraged. It serves underserved markets, brings consumer prices down, expands the economy overall and brings into play market efficiencies. It also avoids the costs of physical retail. But the flipside is that e-commerce is extremely capital-hungry (requires a lot of risk capital – VC/PE funding).
Currently, this amount is not available with Indian investors and can only be met with participation from foreign VCs. The restrictions on FDI in e-commerce should be eased to
facilitate this flow of capital.

Almost every second e-commerce startup is raising money these days. Is raising money that easy?
Actually the funding environment for e-commerce has been difficult for the last 18 months. Now very few companies are able to raise money. The difficulty has been partly due to business reasons and partly due to the regulatory environment.

What advise would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Dream big. Start small.

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