Over the next few weeks and over the last few months, many naysayers have been & will be talking about “why the eCommerce bubble is going to (or has) burst”.
Its true but misses the point.
Yes, over 21 companies that raised over $500K in funding have “merged” or have “been acquired” for paltry sums.
Yes, the model was unsustainable with discounts ranging from 30-70% off list price.
Yes, end consumers made hay while many institutional investors funded their “free shipping”, “COD” and “no questions asked returns policies”.
I am undoubtedly an optimist, so I see many wonderful first generation entrepreneurs that came out of the ordeal alive.
That can only mean one thing – serial entrepreneurs are for the taking.
Assuming some / most of them start companies again.
Some of them have talked to me about how they learned from the experience and how it will shape their new venture. Others are venturing into investing in startups.
The BEST thing that’s happened to Indian startups in the last 5 years is the rise and fall of eCommerce.
Of the 450+ eCommerce companies (of which 75+ raise some money either from VC or seed investors), a full 63% were first time entrepreneurs. (source: Microsoft India startup research).
That’s amazing. Really awesome.
They will live to tell the tale and venture again.
I have one request though:
The next time you meet an entrepreneur who had started an eCommerce venture and moved on, thank them for taking the risk. They did something so its easier for you to convince your family and relatives that starting a company is glorious. Even if it is not a runaway success it teaches you about taking risks, venturing on your own and going down a not-so-well-trodden path.
Side note: The hare and tortoise story though still has a lot of merit.
I personally know 5 companies in eCommerce, growing at 30-50% annually (not monthly as the VC’s wanted 2 years ago) and breaking even. A few companies chose to not raise capital (or truthfully no one would give them capital when they tried to raise it) were forced to focus on profit and sustaining pricing models. They are stronger and better after their experiences.