Krishnan Ganesh, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, does not need much introduction. Over the past two decades, Ganesh and his wife Meena have created, and exited from, four ventures - IT&T, Customer Asset, Marketics Technologies, and TutorVista. The underlying theme of all these venture was India-domestic consumption story. In an interview with Shivani Shinde Nadhe, Ganesh talks about why Indian entrepreneurs should look inward, the plans for the two ventures - BigBasket and Portea Medical, and the Indian entrepreneurial setup. Edited excerpts:
Even after your exit from TutorVista, you have preferred to keep the entrepreneur's hat. Why did you choose to be a promoter in Portea and not an investor?
We have two aspects of investment. The first is the promoter's role where we want to operate the business and the second is to be investors. Through GSF Accelerator, we play the role of angel investors, and we are promoters in companies like Portea and BigBasket, where we are actively involved in the operations. We had identified health care as a large area of interest and wanted to operate the business. By the time we decided to get into this, a Delhi-based team already had a start-up and a one-year head start. We liked the team and decided to roll it up. We are in 12 cities, and do 10,000 visits a month. We raised Rs 48 crore and have achieved this in the past five to six months. The response has been very good. We want to target the top 50 cities in India in the next 12 months. The need is huge and we want technology to play an important role. We are looking to raise around $40 million in the next 12 months for Portea as we believe the model can be replicated internationally too, especially in South Asia. Health care services is a big opportunity, we are focusing on three areas - geriatric sector, chronic care and post-operative sector.
Are you also raising funds for BigBasket?
We are in the process of raising money there, too. We expect to raise around $50 million from private equity and also plan to take it to listing in two years' time. BigBasket is doing very well. We are the only player in this segment with presence in three cities - Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai - and are also fully funded.
Are Indian entrepreneurs too focused on creating only big-bang success stories?
If you can do a big deal, please do it. But you cannot do it by sitting here; you need to be in Silicon Valley. What we have created are businesses that are extremely tough execution business. It is easier to create business in India. Problems are crying to be solved. They may not be the $1-billion valuation business, but you can create two $500-million firms. Instead of trying to obsess about that, focus on your strength based on the opportunity and need here and think on what is it that you can create in the next three to five years. For instance, BigBasket's business is similar to what Ocado in the UK does. But Ocado does 20 deliveries per van and we do 33. This raises the profitability dramatically by 50 per cent. What entrepreneurs do not look is that for one success story like Snapchat, there are hundreds that fail. In India, that ratio will not work because we still have a stigma with failure. Just because diapers.com was successful, some 20 baby product firms were launched in India; today, there are only two stories.
In India, opportunity is easy, but execution is tough. For instance, the US home health care is a 100-year- industry. In India, we are still creating this market. We come up with one idea a month.
What makes you a successful entrepreneur?
I am 52 now. At my age, I cannot come up with cool apps like Selfie or Snapchat. I have believed in solving more hardcore problems. Unlike developed countries like the US, in India you still have basic issues that are not solved and hence Indian entrepreneurs have a lot of opportunity. I am not saying you cannot create a $19-billion WhatsApp or $3-billion Snapchat. But for that, you need to be in the US, be a 20-something-and know how the US consumer behaves.