Manu Agarwal, Founder, ANMsoft & Naaptol.com

Team YS
25th Aug 2009
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When someone says “been there done that” it usually tends to rub people the wrong way. However, when the person saying it is named Manu Agarwal, it not some empty table-talk. He has the credentials to back them up and the entrepreneurial vigor to support his claim.

Manu has three companies to his credit. His first entrepreneurial venture was Design expo in 1998-99. It was taken over by SLM soft which then shut down. He launched “ANMsoft” in 2003 which is still is doing very well in the field of IT and software. His latest venture is “Naaptol” set up in January of last year.

The intrepid Entrepreneur opened up about his career, and introduced Yourstory to his companies saying “ANMsoft Technologies provides low risk – cost effective solutions to address complex business requirement of its client. With our domain expertise and streamline process we ensure rapid application development with high degree of certainty in time and cost predictions. Though our core focus is in Banking, eRetail, eTravel and eMedia Domain, we also provide extensive solutions on latest web 2.0 technologies.”

“ANM’s Unique Distributed Development Methodology provides a tailored combination of onsite, offsite, insourced and outsourced team aiming towards best quality output and shortest development cycle. This methodology helps us become blended extension of client’s team ensuring faster release and high quality output meeting upto 99% of client’s requirement in first release. With our tailored methodologies and approach towards building solutions, we become partner of choice for any organization in its start up, emerging or established stage.”

www.naaptol.com. naaptol.com is India’s leading comparison based social shopping portal Be it consumer electronic goods, laptops, mobiles, cameras, LCD TVs, or home appliances, you will find all on Naaptol with the latest deals and the lowest prices available in the market Find the product of your choice from the extensive product reviews and ratings from experts, compare it with others, get feedback and purchase it at the best available price. This serves the buyers who wish to practically see the product before they buy. The site gets close to 10 lakh smart shoppers per month and boasts of 41,548 products on the website, as of today.”

“Naaptol does not sell directly like ebay or rediff. What it does is it initiates’ selling. Normally before making a buying decision of an expensive product the consumer does an in depth research on the product from various websites which in this fast moving world is an extremely tedious task. He would often wish a single website that would meet all his buying needs. Fulfilling his desire is Naaptol with its shopping encyclopedia www.naaptol.com

Unlike other sites where products are on display and not much more Manu’s site has a difference. He says “Naaptol is essentially a comparison based social shopping portal. It gives products complete with their specifications and reviews to help users make informed decisions. And it helps both sellers and buyers together. With the growth of the Indian economy and the changing standards of living there is a sudden upsurge of brands and stores, both online and offline, that claim to sell the best of the products at the most reasonable prices. But what is the guarantee that the price offered to them is the best?”

“How does the consumer verify the facts? It is not possible for him to run from pole to pole seeking the best prices or deals. If he purchases online he loses out on offline retailers and vice versa. Thus naaptol gives him the benefit of buying from both online and offline retailers at one place.”

“It creates micro sites for offline retailers where they can list their offers. The consumer can either choose to buy from him directly online or visit his store. Naaptol provides complete contact details of every seller registered on the website. This helps both sellers and buyers as sellers get visibility in the Internet and a chance to expand their business too. On the other hand buyers are satisfied because they can choose the best deal for themselves. And there is location based search too. If a user wishes to choose a retail outlet near his place of convenience he can easily navigate to it on the website through location filters.”

“The benefit and the service offered by the site are unique. It helps users save two things at one time- money and time. And those who benefit from it are many. Presently the site gets around 10-12lakh shoppers per month.”

Naaptol has been built taking the discerning customer in mind and every other kind of customer looking for a great deal. “Naaptol is different due to its user friendly features. It has all important filters to help any customer narrow down to his choice of product consuming least amount of time. The filters include Brand, Price, and Technical filters for each product. Even the smallest data is put under a common broad title so that every user gets complete information and does not have to hunt for anything.”

“The expert reviews, user reviews- a feature called ‘product discussion’ gives you a complete picture of every product listed on Naaptol. Finally when the user has decided the product he would like to purchase, he can enable the 'city' filter, in order to know which seller in his city will deliver him the best deal on the product. Naaptol helps save two most important things in one go – your money, your time. It’s all the magic of its filters.”

“Our business model goes like this:

Advertisements on Naaptol

Offline Lead Revenues

Online selling partnership

Micro sites for Sellers

Naaptol makes money by charging sellers for the leads it generates for them. Also it charges brands from advertising on the site.”

Many choose entrepreneurship because of money or financial stability. But this does not hold true for Manu. For him the most important thing is motivation. His motivational drivers are intelligence, learning and power to some extent, which would not have been possible in a job, to say.

Manu may not be in it for the money but he has had problems because of finances, He explains “Unlike the Silicon Valley no one funds for ideas in India and that is the biggest challenge ANMSoft faced. We had to boost up the company through the device model to earn money and then we got funding and benefits to develop products. By that time we had already lost quite a lot of time which could have been used to develop products.”

Manu learnt his lessons early and learnt them well, for his teacher was experience itself. He sold SLMsoft to a Canadian venture and kept a minority stake and later realized that it was not what he really wanted. The shutting down of Crickinfo and Shubh Yatra during the recession of 2003 still rankles him.

Since then Manu has bounced back and has taken ANMsoft and Naaptol to new heights. He says with pride “We (ANMsoft) provide technology to the largest online shopping site and to the biggest IPTV service provider. In a short span of a year we (Naaptol) have taken the company to a platform where no Indian e-commerce industry has ever entered.

“We may not have received any awards but both our organizations have received accolades and appreciation for the kind of work we do. And good work is an honor by itself. That is the reason we have some big clients with us. Be it IIT’s or competitions like Proto.in we have won recognition everywhere.”

Mnau loves the life of an entrepreneur and his number one motivating factor is “Enjoyment”. He feels that it is important to enjoy everything you do and says “Till the time you enjoy every moment of the work you do, you can put your best foot forward.”

He revealed his plans for Naaptol saying “Our product is ready and has won recognition in the work it does. The year looks great for us ahead. We are planning to venture into some new categories like finance, books, travel and many more. We are going on an aggressive spree to help sellers sell. Be it direct RO, website promotions or other alternate mediums we are going to try out everything. We are going to basically stop on gas. We aim to do at least 5 crores of revenue in the next financial year. We have started with our own call centre now. It has begun work in full swing with 30 seats as of now and we will grow to 100 seats by the end of this year.”

As for his other company ANMsoft’s future he says “We have invested enough on retail and travel and we have started aggressive advertising of our products through all channels and mediums. The solutions will take growth in itself. We aim to generate revenue from product side rather than service side this financial year. We will also start offering our services on demand by the end of this end. ANMsoft is venturing into complete e-commerce support to brands now from technology to marketing to operations now.”

Manu has always had a keen mind for money, and offers advice along those lines to budding entrepreneurs eager to learn form him. He says “rather than trying to raise capital directly from VC’s it is advisable to go through the advisors. Giving them a percentage on the investment is better than going through the tedious task of raising capital directly. And the risk factor is also too high.”

“One must remember raising finance is important but time consuming. Entrepreneurs need to decide upon the right time to raise finance. You should never be too early or too late. Timing is essential.”

Yourstory wishes the Entrepreneur with two companies greater success and more ideas, for we believe that the best is yet to come for Manu.

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