05 February, 2007

Possible ventures and adventures

After a long stint of reaching out and sending birthday wishes to the specialest person, I am going to move back to more mundane things - my humdrum existence.

I had an exciting conversation with angel-boy*. As always, it is great fun talking to him and
there is never a dull moment. It is about the coming of the organised retail sector in India.

I have always felt that I missed the Y2K excitement because I was still in college. In a more direct manner, I missed out on an entry into the online travel circus which has started in India about a year back. I have always felt that there have been great many waves and I have never ridden one.
The next big one, actually an ongoing one - especially in India - Biotech - and I do not think anyone here would give me the time of day in this field.

So the next big thing - Organised retail in India.

Here is my version of what we think will happen -

- Immediate talent shortage in an already heated market will mean that people in sectors like hospitality, retail finance and FMCG sales will have the world of jobs and salaries to chose from. So many of my friends in these sectors - rejoice!

- Retail will not work in a vaccuum. All kinds of support and peripheral industries will rise and take shape. Cold storage chains, food processing units, RFID providers, SCM specialists, procurement companies - anyone already existing in such fields will grow about 2000 fold in the next 2-3 years.
(Much similar to the way auto component manufacturing is now well established in India - It all started more than two decades ago, when Maruti was set up. Back in those days, even the keyring sold with the car was imported!)

All these are going to be rich pickings for entrepreneurs - old and new. However, in my mind, the truer and larger opportunity exists elsewhere. The thing is that with organised retail, the market is growing, but at the hindu rate of growth. There are x million people who buy food. Five years from now, the same people and their children will be buying food, it is just that more and more of them will be buying it in an airconditioned shop with labelled prices and not from Guptaji.

I think that the real opportunity lies in the fact that with organised retail, the villages will become more integrated with the cities. Farmers will (I hope) have access to prices which will be closer to market prices. This is where the opportunity actually exists. Like for example, setting up "e-choupals" right next to where farmers get money. Selling crop insurance, commodity futures, even farm produce from elsewhere (farming regions will become more specialised) - this is a market which has not existed (Ever) in this country.

This is the opportunity I want to ride on.

Let us see when.

(* - His name actually tranlates to Angel. The day was also brilliant - Big breakfast, followed by three hours of rest, then a giant burger and beer followed by an excellent dinner after a few hours of sleep. I love Sundays)