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Everytime there is a pullback, there is an opportunity: Ashish Hemrajani

Interview with Co-founder, BookMyShow

Surabhi Agarwal  |  New Delhi 

Ticketing portal is looking to expand deeper into the markets it already serves by bringing in local listing and search. Co-founder Ashish Hemrajani talks to Surabhi Agarwal about what he makes of the current start-up mania and his strategy for the firm, in the business for a decade. Edited excerpts:

What are BookMyShow’s expansion plans?

We are already in 220 cities and we’ll go wherever the consumer is. So, there is no clear answer. We are looking at catering to the current set of users in the existing markets and we’re looking at new markets also. Our biggest challenge and focus is to build the system. A lot of things don’t exist. For instance, how do you handle payments, consumers that don’t have means to pay? How do you handle customers who don’t have data connections? Nobody has answers to these. We’re trying to do a lot of tests. We don’t know whether these will work, but we’re trying.

Are you in the market for additional funds? Are you making any money right now?

We’re adequately funded. We were profit after tax and Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) profitable, but we keep getting into negative territory again and again, since we are looking to invest and plough back. We raised money from SAIF Partners, and are not looking at raising money right now. Maybe two months down the line. The markets are evolving so quickly, I don’t have answers today. It will be a lie to tell you ‘no’ or ‘yes’ today. People are closing deals in a week these days.

Are there any start-ups in your space which are keeping you up at night?

You can’t control the environment. But how you react to it, is in your control. In my space, I am not particularly kicked about anybody. What I am kicked about are entrepreneurs who are building three-member to 25-member teams; people who’re building phenomenal products and are getting funded.

There are great SaaS and product emerging out of the country, who have the potential to go global or solve phenomenal problems in the country. I think that is where the excitement now is. I think a lot of the ecommerce use cases are now done.

People keep talking about when the next or the next or would come out of India, it seems slightly feasible now as I see a lot of product focus now. So even if you look at some of the grocery guys, they are not ecommerce companies, they are tech product companies, it is the technology that is driving them.

Are you looking at some of these as potential acquisition targets?

If you come across some, please sound us out.

What do you think of the scorching valuations that ecommerce are getting these days?

Look it’s scary but it is working. There is another guy who is standing in line to put in money at an higher valuation, that is great. Most of the founders are sitting on money, they are not going down on stock, so let’s see how it goes.

Are you worried that if the bubble bursts, guys like you could see collateral damage?

Warren Buffett always said everytime there is a pullback, there is an opportunity. It is inevitable, this cycle of peaks and troughs. Only the guys who can manage the downturns can survive. When the going is good, everybody can raise money. The real business philosophy, the real relationships only come to the fore when the markets are down.

First Published: Thu, July 30 2015. 00:37 IST