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Strategies and Challenges in Navigating an Acquisition Insights from a Founder's Journey

Umair Mohammed, Founder and Ex-CEO of Wigzo

In this episode of WYTPOD, Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS, engages in a conversation with Umair Mohammed, founder and ex-CEO of Wigzo, a user engagement platform. Umair shares the tumultuous journey that led to Wigzo’s acquisition by Shiprocket. The discussion covers the challenges faced in early entrepreneurship, navigating financial crises, and the impact of the pandemic on D2C growth. Umair reflects on the acquisition process, emphasizing the importance of understanding the acquirer’s vision and managing legal complexities. He also discusses post-acquisition life, transitioning from CEO to a more relaxed family-oriented lifestyle. This episode provides candid insights into the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the intricacies of successfully exiting a startup.

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Umair Mohammed
Founder and Ex-CEO of Wigzo

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS. We are a Digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Umair Mohammed with me today. He is the founder and ex-CEO of Wigzo, which is an omnichannel user engagement and retention platform. A big welcome to Umair and I’m so happy to have you with me today.

Thanks, Harshit. Glad to be here. I’ve seen some of the episodes of your pod and the very interesting stuff that you guys are doing.

Thank you so much. And congratulations to you on your successful exit to Wigzo. Can you share some of the insights into the journey leading up to the Acquisition and what were the key factors that contributed to a successful exit altogether?

I think it’s a very long question. It would take about two years to answer it, if I have to concise this in a quick answer, I think the journey now I look back has been treacherous, but very rewarding.

And I think it’s one of those feelings where you’re exhausted. And once you finish the line, you’re exhausted, you’re relieved. But after like maybe a few moments, you start missing the journey. So, it’s been bittersweet for me. Because the journey has been very difficult as well.

We’ve navigated some tough times. We started the company in 2014. When B2B SaaS was not getting a lot of traction, both from VCs and in India and otherwise. And that too, we picked a field where India was somewhat behind some mature market like us. So, for us to convince people to join us on this journey, of e-commerce enablement, and retention it was tough, man.

It was like it was like I was banging my head about conversion rates, about retention, the importance of retention. And people would say, yeah, we get it, we don’t want to spend any money on it. But it’s been beautiful. I cannot complain. I would not have it any other way.

And there were at least a couple of times where I think I should have shut down the company. Difficult times when I couldn’t pay the salary for the next month, I didn’t know where the funds were going to come from. And it was, there were days when I would, not sleep completely.

And I would just wake up and go to the office. I was, I think I was depressed as well. There were signs of clinical depression. I never got myself tested with the fear that it would be yes. And then I would have to be on medication. But everything just was damp and cold. And then, from the behavior of people left in the office, they knew that we were running out of funds.

And luckily, I don’t know how I think it was luck. Or perseverance or both that we navigated both of these times and came out on top afterward. So, all thanks to the people who joined us on the journey as well. They kept us in check. I’m a first-generation entrepreneur, so I don’t have any entrepreneurs in my family.

And when I actually, started this journey of entrepreneurship everyone in my family. Was like, you would do business, that was, that’s the term. And I said, yeah, it’s entrepreneurship. And they were dumbfounded because nobody in our family had attempted it.

Yeah. And I was a complete outsider to the, eat this funding ecosystem as well. So, I have a bunch of friends who I have to thank because they force me to say. Yes, you’re building a product. So why don’t you just go and talk to some of the investors?

Maybe some people are, they’re enamored by your vision or whatever you’re trying to build. And so yeah, the journey was tough. Some great moments were building the startup. The early days are the best when you’re just understanding the market, there is no product market fit, you’re doing a bunch of things, and there’s a bunch of experimentation.

A bunch of beanbags lying around your office and people pretending to work, but not really, because you have not found the proper market fit. The early days are the best but also from an entrepreneur’s perspective, who has stood out on a vision, they’re very difficult as well.

because you feel that every day that passes, you feel that, oh, my God, this is. It’s another day. It’s And but yeah, leading up to the exit actually, it was very surreal because the pandemic hit and then we just buckled down everything and we said, you know what all of us are going to get through this.

Nobody was fired, nobody left. The company, everyone, I think the productivity went through the roof in the first three, or four months.

Yeah, I’m sure that must have contributed to the revenue and everything.

Absolutely. I think immediately, like the, as soon as the lockdown kind of, was at the peak so there was already a D2C wave.

It had started before the pandemic, but it just went up absolutely crazily.

And the people at that time in that time, I remember they’re like, fuck traditional marketing. Let’s invest everything on the digital front because, you’re not supposed to like, no one is getting out. What’s the point of, all of those things? Yeah, and it’s still, it is now though, but yeah, let’s see, I should, I’m late. Fingers crossed, doesn’t have that declining, or even knows that.

So, I think, see there was a decade’s worth of growth during those times. So, it has to come back to mean or median value, I, it would not go back to the 2019 back to the 2019 numbers for sure.

But it will also not stay there. If so, it will come down to some sort of median value and it will continue to grow the way it was before that, with about 20, 23 percent CAGR, and the mark is still there. 2030 is when we were expecting our 25 to 30 percent penetration across all retail.

And so that’s still there. All of that is still there. But that period was crazy. And obviously that revenues went up. We have a bunch of new clients who are doing extremely well. People are going from starting a brand in November and hitting 200,000 in sales in February to 200,000 sales per month.

In, three, four months, it was crazy. Everyone was seeing crazy growth. So, for us, I think it was it was those times we got through, we were, our products started getting recognition. We started, being used by a bunch of D2C brands. And that sort of started the momentum and then Shiprocket came along and I think they showed us a vision where the product fits into their vision.

We all felt at the time that this alone, our vision of building out this product, but it does fit well, better than our vision, it felt fits better in the story that Shiprocket is building. Also, I think as first-generation entrepreneurs with, quite a good few VCs behind you have to build your credentials as well.

So, as a first gen entrepreneur, you, it’s always on the back of your mind that if I can somehow get everyone a good outcome it’s I might have run Wigzo for another 5, 6, 10 years and it would have been 500,000 crore business. But. I felt at the time there were funds like 314 Capital, there were funds like Cornerstone there were funds like Advantage Partners who were part of the cap table.

And I genuinely believed that if we can get an outcome for these guys as well, maximize the value for the shareholders we would come out of it with an amazing outcome. And so, when Shiprocket came along and it’s there was, there were two acquisition offers on the table.

I can’t name who was the other, unfortunately. But Shiprocket and this other company we were, they were finding about it about acquiring Wigzo. So that was like a very surreal moment that, hey, we’ve built something that people want not just our customers, but other companies value the product that fits into the description.

So that’s Great validation, but also, it’s, it also shows that sometimes when you’re building something out, you have this vision and you’re just thinking on that tunnel, right? And, people are just thinking broadly in terms of where this can go. Sometimes this vision is the limiting factor.

So that was the biggest learning from the acquisition that sometimes we’ve got to open our eyes, look at, distribution and how good the distribution can be when partners come along, and yeah, I just feel it felt like the right sort of play to make at the time and we did and we were fantastic.

The Shiprocket guys were very professional. They had this vision. They came in with a team and it was my first acquisition. So, for me, everything was new learning everything on the job. And so, the moment came and, we got acquired and it was, I think we never truly stopped to celebrate as well, because, it was one of those things that happened, in the in, in its flow.

Now we look back at it and we can spread ourselves, we can relax, put our feet up, and drink a nice. Pina Colada on a beach and think about how the acquisition panned out. But for all practical purposes, it was another transaction for us because we were continuing for one year and then so we truly felt that.

Exhaustive is still with us, at the time of X after the acquisition as well. But over a year when you start working with another one, there is bound to be friction. There are bound to be disagreements, which is all fine. It’s all part and parcel of the acquisition process and cycle. And those are some of the things that I learned along the way as well because it’s not easy and not a lot of people get through to this point.

So, hats off to Shiprocket guys. They’ve handled it well. They made my life easy. They just took the role of an investor. And we continue to run the business. We almost tripled the revenues under Shiprocket’s leadership. And honestly, it was everything, everyone came out happy.

We, the founders came out happy. Obviously when the transition happened, some employees. There are always employees that, hate transition because I have a certain way of working. Shiprocket has a certain way of working and I’m, and not everyone is, accustomed to that. They’re like, why are you changing the office?

Why are we moving to Gurgaon? And why is there, not a hybrid model? Earlier, there was a hybrid model when Umair was in charge. And it’s a whole thing. So, you can please some of the people all the time. And you can please all of the people. Some of the time you cannot please all the people all the time.

So, for us, it was, it is what it is. It’s Sprockets baby now. And we came out of it. We were happy. Everyone the investor is super happy. They got some decent multiples on the online investment. And yeah, everyone just came out of the deal looking forward.

Okay. I would love to know what the main target market is with which countries were you mainly focusing.

was India, and the second one was the US. Our revenue split was also about 70% from India and 30% from the US. And I think Shiprocket.

Wanted more penetration in the US, but I think it’s a whole mother ball game. Again, we were as founders, we would have, I would have loved to but we were not incentivized enough, right? Because when you’ve sold the company, you don’t have a lot of skin in the game. And I think now I understand why VCs are reluctant to put in money where the founders get diluted too much.

And so, I understand that. Because now I’ve been on that side and I was like yeah, I’m not incentivized enough to break my back for the, for a United States GTM at that pace. So, we can go slow is not a problem. Yeah, I think it was like a year and a half into the journey and I felt that it was time to move on.

and let somebody else take the reins run the product, run the company the way they want. And it’s time for me to enjoy time with my family. Go out and clear my mind relax on a beach, maybe invest in a few companies. And yeah, I’m doing that. And frankly, you’ve been enjoying life.

You were eight months old. You know so I’m hoping that you’re investing in good time.

I am. And my wife is super happy, but also, she’s super pissed. Because she’s happy because I’m spending more time with the baby, but she’s super pissed that I’m home all the time. So, she’s you need to find yourself a job, man.

You just need to get out of the house. You’re just like on my nerves all the time, because I’m always like, why is this there? Why is this? Here and why is, and I’m always fixing something. So, she’s just got the fuck out of my face.

Why have you started behaving like dada ji fixing things?

What else are you going to do after working like 16 hours a day? And suddenly, you’re like, I don’t, my calendar is empty, bro. Like it’s, that was a big change. I woke up.

And how are you coping? Because I remember I used to be part of an agency before this was a few years back.

Then I exited that, entered into a SaaS business where everything was so calm, so composed. My agency life was way too busy. Like it was like 16 to 20 hours I was on, like getting calls from people. Managing multiple people and all that, but in SaaS, it was a bit calmer in that sense.

And, it took me around six months to Just get used to the land

No. The good thing is that I am a builder, right? I’m an operator builder. So, I’ll continue to build things. And but the biggest change that happened that I’m not now, I don’t know how to say it, like without, sounding offensive, but I, I’m not working for money anymore.

I’m not working to have bread at home. And that’s a big privilege. But I’m an operator builder. I’ll always continue to tinker with things, like you said, why are you behaving like a Dadaji? So, I’m always like that. I’ve been like that since I will continue to break things.

I’ll continue to build things. And that’s who I am. So, I’ve been true to myself. And I’ll continue to be true to myself. At one point. I wanted to take up stand-up comedy, being a stand-up comic, I think I have great material from all my VC meetings. It’s amazing. But, all my startup meetings as well, by the way, some of the startup founders had Patch it, not just the way it’s not, then, it’s not about the way they’re saying it, but sometimes when you hear the things that they’re saying it’s funny as hell, but because, there’s this bubble that all startup founders live in.

But having said that it was difficult at first. I was having no meetings on my calendar. So, I used to add a bunch of things on my calendar to do initially. And waking up one day and just not having an office to go to was very tough initially. But hobbies are great spending time with my kids.

Great. All of those things are happening, like I said, I’ll continue to build things, and I continue to break things. And yeah, so when this whole AI thing started, I went into this rabbit hole, I set up all the servers and started, back to basics, building, setting up open-source projects and contributing to some of these projects.

Yeah, we’ve, honestly, I would love to find some great purpose in life and I think I have that, but I think there’s a columnist to now there’s a method to madness because I know them if I go down this path. You know what it takes. What does it mean to go down this path again?

I know things will be calmer in terms of me handling tough situations. I know things will be calmer in terms of fundraising. Will be much calmer in terms of product market fit. So, all of those things because you go through this cycle once. And, you might not realize it, but with the learnings subconsciously that your brain has, you develop this muscle memory for dealing with situations.

Next time in a company, when there’s a tiff between two co-founders or the HR says, there’s no decorum in the company and people are coming late, exactly how to handle it because you’ve seen those situations. Play out a bunch of times in your previous startup. So, I think for all practical purposes I have been tinkering with a few things.

I’ve been dabbling on the AI side of things. I know it’s all the rage but there is a reason why it’s the rage with every new technology people don’t want to miss on the board. And I think that’s why. Web3 just got the hype. It was its great technology, no question about it.

Phenomenal technology blockchain. But yeah, some of the projects grifters joined in, there were some fake projects and ICOs and all of that bullshit, people losing a bunch of their life savings into it. That’s not nice. That puts a blot on new technology, but I get why people do that because some of you, even I were young when the internet first wave, I was 13, 14 years, or 15 years old when the.

.com bubble happened in 2000. So, I saw that I had a dial-up modem that I used to connect to my landline. And run the internet to watch porn, to as a 15-year-old, but I get why people are excited about new technologies because, and what Chat GPT has done for the industry, for example, and I don’t want to digress or segue from our conversation, but I believe that.

It’s an important aspect of where the world is moving towards and it’s an important aspect of the technology. Every new technology will be hyped. The hype cycle and there will be, but the ones who stay back in that after the hype cycle die down, they are truly able to build very large companies and they’re truly able to build very large products or projects that are sustainable that go a long way. And I think that is why people are hyped up about this new technology and everyone so like everyone else, you know reading Twitter I was like, yeah, I need to do it bro And I need to like I need to have access to ChatGPT Open AI APIs And I need to have access to large language model open-source language models.

I was very excited and sure there, it’s difficult finding a particular use case that fits the needs and whatever, but we will have built decent businesses even today, like out of it. So yeah, swaying from back to our conversation you asked I’m just coping by building out, testing, breaking things, and building again.

And then I’m excited. And if this is energy now that gets lost when you’re building an organization. When you’re building an organization versus when you’re building a product. When you’re building a product, there is a different energy. But when the product is built, then you’re building an organization.

Then you, the product is already there. There is a roadmap. Some teams are building it. And you as a CEO and a founder are tasked with building an organization now. A successful org. So, when you’re building the org, that’s not innovative work. That’s a lot of front work. That’s a lot of HR work.

Who’s coming in and what role and how do we define the hierarchy and who’s doing what and what projects and how do we, get the right people in the right place? Do we need an outside hire? Do we need in house what happens to sales? How does the training it’s a lot of HR organizational work that you have to do after the product is built, but the product building is something that I absolutely, truly enjoy.

And I’m, at heart. a product person, not a product manager, but a product person. And I, I love that. I love that energy when building a new product and seeing it break and then debugging it, line by line on the code, and then testing it again and then debugging it again.

If it breaks that. Back and forth and love it. I used to hate it, but now I love it because I know where it’s heading.

You’re going to hate me for this, but I would call you a Dadaji on a roller coaster now.

Yeah, man.

Skates are actually that better.

I truly am like that. I think I’ve already grown old in my head. I’m an old person. No, in my head I get it. All right.

Okay. So, let’s talk about it because navigating on exit is a very complex process, right? I would love to know what strategies did you employ and excuse me.

And what are the challenges that you encountered during this acquisition process?

So, I think and that’s a very interesting question, Harshit. I think what’s important is acquisition is completely different than fundraising. It’s a completely different process and it has and sometimes there are simple plain acquisitions as well, where you list your product and someone approaches you and decides to pay you X amount of money pretty much like a listing, right?

But there are also complex acquisitions and India hasn’t seen a lot of them. Complex acquisition, to be honest so there are not a lot of places you can go back to ask this question, a lot of founders. Luckily, I had one on my gap table Ritesh Malik who took an exit from Innovate when OYO acquired coworking space but I think the process is you have to just take a step back from your own company and look at the broad vision. Why are they acquiring the business? What is in it for them? Align yourself with that energy of where the acquirer is heading towards, and you have to sometimes maybe also think about the roadmap and maybe alter the roadmap to suit the way that that they’re thinking about your product. And I think that’s very important. So, you have to completely unlearn everything that you learned in fundraising. Have to keep all of that aside. And you have to have acquired a different mindset. It’s literally like putting on a mask. Removing a mask or removing a helmet and putting on another helmet so you have to then navigate towards why they want to acquire and you have to ask this question.

Sometimes you don’t have an answer to that. So, you have to directly ask the question people are acquiring. Why? What’s in it for you? I think that’s the first question you need to ask. Then why do you think you need to acquire us? And sometimes the answer is that, hey, we’re, we’re experimenting.

We have this money and I think that, for example, consumer businesses are great. So, we want to venture there. And I think that’s what happened between these two deals that we had. One wanted to penetrate the consumer because they had never done it. They had zero clue about it. And the one was an exported Shiprocket that was already a pretty large unicorn in that space.

And for them, it was about, we already have this captive audience, we would just distribute their product. So, I think that. Sets the tone for acquisition. And then the second thing that you have to do is then set realistic goals with your acquirers that this is where we are now, when you’re getting venture funding, you can be aggressive.

You can be like, if I had 15 million, I would conquer the world. I would be, building a SpaceX. I would be crossing the moon on my way to Mars. And I would be doing. A hundred million in revenues, all of that which is fine. I get it. But when you’re getting acquired, I think you have to be honest.

You have to be clear. And you have to set realistic goals, both in terms of product. And you have to also ask for your space. If you’re staying on, that is, if you’re moving on and you’re just handing over the business and the product and the IP clean, it’s a transaction then it’s the, then you don’t need to put all this brain, you just need to negotiate the best transaction and get out of it.

And that’s also fine. But if you’re going to stay on and you have to, so you have to all of those nuances and you have to work through. And then finally, when you’ve gone through all of that process, comes the legal process which is again, Tough to negotiate tough to navigate lawyers would fight in a room.

When they would shout and I would come out and say, what the fuck why are you trying? I was like, no, we were not shouting. We’re discussing. It’s I was in that room with you for five hours. I saw you shouting, bro. What are you saying? You were not shouting. And they were like, no, this clause, that clause.

And so that battle is completely different and you get to, learn it. I’ve, I had genuinely only maybe seen it in passing and in some movies or some shows. I’ve never seen it in real life. So it was, everything was like, moving at that pace for me. And I was like, dude, this is too much.

But. It is an important part of the acquisition process. So, you have to go through with it. You have to, you have to, make yourself understand that this is a process. It will take time. It will have its journey. You cannot speed up or slow it down. And there will be certain things that you will have to compromise on.

to make sure the deal gets done and there are certain things that you have to, be, you put your foot down and say, this is exactly what I want. And this is how I want it. And I am, this is non-negotiable. And so there are, there are these small battles that, okay, we’ll give you this, but we’ll take that.

And, it’s like a negotiation. And you win some battles, you lose some battles in a negotiation. It’s all fine. You come out of it. If all of us are feeling happy, something went wrong. So, everyone should feel like, they were shortchanged.

What do you mean? At least two people should come.

No, actually, see, that’s the thing that if you negotiated well, yeah. Then you would come out of it and say, I could have asked for this thing. I could have asked for this thing. And they would come out of the meeting and say, we could have negotiated this down a bit. Maybe he’s looking for this.

And I think everyone should feel like that for the for me, that, that sounds like a successful negotiation. Yeah. That’s deep actually. And if everyone comes out and everyone is happy, something is wrong. I can tell you that. Something is wrong with that deal, some say that when things are too good to be true, they usually are.

And that, that’s true for the exit negotiations as well. So, if you come out of the meeting, feeling extremely excited, and super happy, something is amiss you miss something, you miss the detail, a bunch of details you did not negotiate properly, maybe you could have gotten better, but I think.

The important thing is you should not have regrets when you come out of that negotiation. When you go out of the negotiation and you sign that paper, that’s it. That’s when you cannot go back. Sure, you can go back and forth before the signing. But when you’re signing, be sure, that you have done your absolute best to negotiate the best deal for you, yourself the company your people, and the employees, and everyone is getting, taken care of.

So that’s how we look at it. And I believe that it was like that when we would come out of the table, I would feel like, we could have negotiated something better but something we would feel like, oh, we did, this is something amazing. We got what we wanted. So, it was a mixed feeling.

And yeah, when it happened, we signed the papers the money hit the bank was another feeling, I had not seen that much money in my bank account, like forever I’ve never not seen that kind of money. This is the first instance of wealth creation for the entire family. So yeah, there was like a very subtle celebration me and my wife and my Parents and my brothers, we just went out for a quiet family dinner. And we were just still, it was during the second wave before the second wave of the pandemic. So actually, no, it was after the second wave of the pandemic. So, everything was going well and then the money hit the bang and you get a good feeling and you’re suddenly it takes you 10 years to reach that but suddenly you are financially secure.

That feeling I honestly, I cannot describe, that was like, just. That was crazy. This is the first time.

it’s been quite long since you’ve got that. Are you over it now?

yeah. I don’t think I’d ever be over it, honestly. But look. When you’re, when you come from a very humble background, when you come from a family of middle-class people and doctors who raised you humbly, we had I remember we had a Maruti 800 back in 1993.

Back in 1993, if you had a Maruti 800, that was a privilege.

So, I say that we were privileged. I, my dad raised us very privileged. However, we used to compromise on certain things. Like for example, my dad never he would take us on holidays every summer. But he would not, it was no splurging, he would take like a very cheap ass hotel.

Somewhere, near the, at a hill station and we would just stay all five of us in a room when we were young. So, he did all of that and he raised us very privileged kids. We went to good schools. We went to good colleges. But having said that, I think when you have that kind of wealth you create, and at a younger age you have that wealth.

It does play with your mind a little bit. It does weigh in on your shoulders as well. It does put you in a position, but I think it’s more something to celebrate rather than to push, and put you down. That you have this financial freedom, you have debt free, you have this financial freedom.

And you can be patient in taking your next steps. You can be patient in building out whatever you want to build out. Maybe it’s a pet project. Maybe it’s you want to build a house or you want to. Whatever you want to do in life, you can take your time, you can be patient with it.

There’s no hurry.

you’re not an impulsive buyer.

I would say that I am now. Yeah.

Do you get a bashing?

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh yes. So, I collected watches I bought this watch and my mom was like, hey, this is a nice watch.

And she has this habit of asking “How much is this for?” So, I just said, Mom, this is a Rado and she was like, so how much is it for? And I was like, it’s not, it’s expensive. That’s fine. That’s fine. What numbers? And she insisted. And when she, when I told her the price, then she was like, why in the world are you spending your money on watches?

What’s wrong with you? Is this the kind of kid we raised? I was like, mom, bro, chill.

You don’t know many things about me.

Yeah. So, I still get that bashing. And also, my wife, she keeps me straight. She would not let, she would not let me splurge on certain things, but she would gift me those things. So that’s, that’s but yeah, an impulse sometimes. In terms of certain things, like for example, gadgets I would buy, because I have two handheld consoles for gaming. I have the latest PS five version. I would have the latest laptop, and always the latest phone. So, gadgets, I would splurge and watch that’s it.

Nothing else.

That’s good. Okay. I would love to know like what exactly the future holds for you. Are there any new areas that you’re focusing on or maybe excited to explore in the near future?

So, I don’t want to disclose too much. I think it’s going to come out sooner rather than later, but I can tell you that it’s definitely In the AI space we have been building something out in the AI space.

And I, it’s just again, it started like this weekend slash time pass project for me. And that kept on building. Then my co-founders from Wigzo in touch with my CEO and were like, what are you doing these days? I was like, nothing. What are you doing these days? And he’s nothing.

So, we started getting together and we started working on this project, I believe somewhere back in March. Since then, we have developed it and we believe that it’s monetizable, but not yet, but we are going to launch it soon. Maybe in January maybe late January depending on how happy we are with our baby.

but yes, there is something in the works something that we have kept under wraps. For the first time in my career, I have, I’ve been proud to represent the stealth startup community. I always wanted to do that, that I’m doing something, and people say building in public was the, all the rage.

And I want to build in public, frankly, I wish to, to maybe. Record building my next company.

Is it something That compliments Wigzo in some sense or is this entirely different?

So, I would say that it’s in the same domain, but it’s completely something different, but it’s the same market, the e-commerce. So, I have been a commerce evangelist, e-commerce evangelist, or I would say, I hate the word e-commerce simply because I think that even the transactions that are happening in retail are also digitally enabled now.

So, I think commerce, I say commerce, I don’t say e-commerce. And so, it’s in the same space and our model is to build products that accelerate this commerce. In India first, and I think India, the wave is already coming. We have a hundred million consumers that are actively shopping and I think the next hundred million are coming.

That’s penetration is happening. It would take maybe a year and a half or two years, but we would get there, we would get to 200 million consumers. And so there is a lot to be done here still.

There are a lot of markets, like the most populated country now.

Yeah. And look, I have worked in both markets and I can tell you that the fundamental difference is in the pricing, something that’s and it goes both ways.

Things are cheaper. So, less revenue for the companies, right? US things are more expensive from software to toothbrushes. So, more revenue for the company, but I think from a consumer standpoint, India would be very important. So, I want to continue to build, I think, for example, ONDC and those kinds of projects on the government are extremely impressive.

I believe that these projects are going to act again. They are also the acceleration of commerce. So maybe we can contribute our two cents. There is an acceleration of commerce in India and I think it’s coming to a bunch of people who have worked, for example, from the likes of Paytm to Razor pay to, the past companies point of sale companies.

The food specialist, the fashion specialist, all of those boss companies and Shopify. So, Shiprocket, all of these have built like a great infrastructure now. So, the infra layer was getting built for the last decade. And now the infra layer is there. I think the acceleration is going to come now.

We have great OTTs homebound OTTs. We have great content. We might not have a great consumer app yet. Like Instagram, for example, a homegrown but that’s fine. We don’t have to have a clone of Instagram. There, there is no need for two Instagrams. But at the same time, I think there will be different sorts of apps, which will be consumer which will aid discovery, which will aid

Yeah, because you said we don’t need another Instagram. I remember when TikTok got banned, there was some Indian app, right? That Chingari. Yeah. What was that? Chingari, I think.

Okay. Bunch of apps, right? And look, and no slide on those apps. I think they were doing what they were doing best. Everything, everyone has their sort of, moment in the sun.

I think they were doing. Good job. I’m not sure what the traction looks like now. But they were attacking the right space and it was the right time to attack it for all. But these things tend to have their sort of graph, their mindset. If they like something.

If they don’t know, or they don’t have the discovery of that app yet, then they don’t, it’s just as plain and simple as that. But kudos to the founder for attacking their opportunity. Honestly but having said that, I think. What India needs is not just that, not just an app for acceleration of commerce, but they need maybe in a different way, they need accessibility.

They need trust. Indians need reliability. And that is the second infrastructure layer that is coming, the reliability of an order getting delivered on time, the reliability of a fraud not happening. So, I have been fortunate enough to even sit down with the government and work on some ideas based on web three technologies based on blockchain which can reduce fraud.

Okay. And some of the technologies that can be partnered with ONDC on the discovery side. So, I see that the acceleration of commerce is coming. The acceleration of India is coming. And we are just, we have to play our parts. And for that, I think this is a great time to build for India. This is a great time to build in India.

Yeah. And someone who understands the market and can navigate will always have an upper hand. But the capital is also available, honestly. There’s a bunch of funds. I remember in 2014, there was an Excel sheet of funds that we wanted to reach out to 10 rows. But today, if you want to go, you have different stages of fun, and different funds focusing on different areas.

Oh, we are a SaaS deep tech fund. Oh, we are an AI-focused fund.

But that’s so great that we have so many VCs clamoring because the capital has to fight amongst themselves because if the capital fights among themselves, the best founders come forward. And there will be some bad bets. There will be, I see on Twitter, often people are, pushing down an IPO or, saying their old founder burned a hundred crores to make two crores in revenue.

And what they don’t realize is sometimes they’re creating a category; they’re creating they’re educating the customer. Sometimes it takes time. It takes patience to build a company and that patience time and money. is Venture bagged, which is also fine. As long as there is a clear path to a large revenue model and monetizing capacity, but look, Facebook burned a lot of money for a long period before they were able to monetize it.

So, dissing on founders saying that, hey, they’re burning a hundred crores to make two crores on revenue, bro. No, they’re not burning a hundred crores to make two crores in revenue. They’re burning a hundred crores, to get 10 million subscribers and they would monetize.

As long as they have a value proposition for those consumers. So sometimes there has to be patience and I think VCs understand it. I think founders understand, but the mainstream mainstreaming of startups, thanks to Shark Tank and the like, and again, Shark Tank has done very good things for the startup ecosystem.

But at the same time, the eyeballs that it brought, people tend to diss the founder too much sometimes, and I think. Some of these founders are fanatics and they’re on their path. And there will be bad bets. There will be companies that will not work. Ideas that will not work. But it’s okay.

We as a country, have to take those bets. So yeah, with that note, I think this is, a period for all entrepreneurs, whoever is listening, whoever might listen. All budding entrepreneurs want to get into entrepreneurship. This is a great time. The VCs are willing to listen to you.

They’re willing to sit with you, talk with you. There is a bunch of successful founders who are willing to sit with you and guide you through it. There’s a lot of content available thanks to, the likes of you were making it possible for journeys to be, made the insides of the company to be made public and I think it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in the country.

Perfect. Again, tell me one thing now, because you’re putting in so much hard work now on this new project since March, right? So, when are you planning, have you put down, a deadline for the facelift, or is it something that you’re still in the process of?

I think I want to take my time, but at the same time, I don’t want to be too late to the party.

So, I think you will probably hear something in January. Oh, nice. Maybe mid-January. I would love to tell you about it here, but maybe we can do a follow-up episode once we launch it. Yeah, sure. Let’s do that. Let’s do that. Yeah, and hopefully it’ll be game-changing. It’ll be interesting.

Enough. And it will be some sort of technology that is built on the acceleration of commerce in India.

Brilliant. All right. Good luck to you for that. And I would love to have a follow-up session with you again. Once this is launched and covers all the aspects of it, for sure.

Thank you so much, Umair. Thank you for all the time, all the lessons all the wisdom that you’ve shared in today’s session. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much. Thanks, man. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it, man. Thanks for hosting me.

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