Oct 19, 2015
From co-founding FreeCharge to making it the most transactive e-commerce site in India, Sandeep Tandon did it all. Innovation and great planning is the key to the outstanding growth of his most successful venture in India. The game changed in April 2015 when Snapdeal acquired the online mobile recharge platform in the largest e-commerce deal ever in Indian market history, a whopping $400M deal. The game isn’t over yet, it seems. In a chat with Business Insider India, Sandeep reveals his new ventures fuelled by Modi’s Make in India campaign.
How has your experience been in the Indian market?
India presents a tremendous opportunity with its large base of youth entering the workforce and, in turn, the consumer space. The main thing I like about the Indian market is that the people are aspiring and willing to learn. The talent pool is well-educated and energetic. There are many opportunities for innovative business models to thrive and disrupt the norm. Western business models may work in India, but they have to re-invent to adapt to the Indian sensibilities to be truly successful. Innovation in India will thrive with the discerning consumer who is brand conscious yet price sensitive and always loves a good deal. Moreover, the large market enables an entrepreneur to quickly validate a new concept by getting meaningful and timely feedback.
What’s your opinion on the government’s role in helping start-ups in India?
It’s great to see the Prime Minister and the Government recognizing the evolving start-up culture in the country. There are a lot of things that they could do to help the ecosystem. Like, make it easier to invest in start-ups, give them tax breaks, provide more government grants, and start incubators around the country, not just in metro cities, where people can come and access mentoring resources. I’m glad that the PM also sees innovation and entrepreneurship as the key to jobs; this mindset will be great for the ecosystem.
What are the projects that you’re currently working on?
I’ve always believed that India’s manufacturing sector has to expand to create jobs for the youth coming into the Indian workforce. The government’s Make in India initiative excites me as it can have a far-reaching socio-economic impact across the country. I’ll also provide a voice to Indian-developed products. In this effort, our group has set up an electronics manufacturing company: Syrma SGS Technology. At Syrma, we provide engineering design and manufacturing services that can scale from supporting the next hardware start-up to multinationals with an established product pipeline. Over the last year, Syrma has partnered with some very unique Indian and global companies to launch very innovative products in consumer and industrial electronics.
Another area of interest is healthcare. Here I believe that access to quality healthcare has to improve while at the same time costs should reduce. Our operating business, Infinx Healthcare, has been working on some exciting healthcare information technology products, which we believe will reduce the overall cost of administering healthcare. Outside of our operating companies, I continue to invest and mentor start-ups in consumer Internet, e-commerce, and pure-play technology.
What are your future initiatives?
I really believe in Indian start-ups. I believe they can change the world we live in. And my goal is to ensure all my time is spent investing, inventing, and driving new businesses that solve India’s problems and thereby the world’s problems. I strongly believe in Make in India, and that manufacturing needs to be done in India. You can’t just solve India’s problems through the services industry; you really need a manufacturing industry. These are the two areas I’m focussing on.
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