Infibeam forays into domain name business as competition heats up, plans IPO by March 2015
Infibeam has always been a lone traveller. While its other e-commerce rivals such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal went after money, customers and big bang promotions, this Ahmedabad –based company has been running on internal funding and has so far kept a low profile.
Not anymore. For the past few days, the front pages of top dailies have been splashed with advertisements that suggest a new line of business that its competitors haven’t touched. The mobile domain business.
Infibeam plans to launch its .ooo domain after winning required clearances and license from The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), making it the the country’s first generic top-level domain (GTLD) registry.
That’s not all. Rather than going the much beaten venture capital route to fund raising, Infibeam is planning to hit the stock market, with an initial public offering of up to Rs 1,000 crore. Founder and ex-Amazonian Vishal Mehta has appointed Kotak Mahindra as its lead manager and is aiming for a listing early next year.
YourStory caught up with Vishal to find out more. The following are edited excerpts of the conversation:
YS: Recently Infibeam forayed into selling (.ooo) domain name business. Could you throw some light on what led Infibeam to venture into such a business?
VM: We started Infibeam to empower consumer, and as we evolved, we proactively laid the foundation of empowering every individual and business in retail value chain. We launched BuildaBazaar to empower SMEs and enterprises. With tens of thousands of merchants on the platform business, we realized many of our merchants were not able to get their right digital identity as the names on current global domain suffix are not available.
To address the need of thousands of merchants, business owners, entrepreneurs and individuals across the globe, we launched .ooo (dot-triple-'o'). We’ve opened a huge opportunity for customers worldwide to register their global digital Identity.
YS: Why should businesses opt for the .ooo domain name? What are some of the value-added services Infibeam will offer besides .ooo domain name?
VM: Digital identity has become an inevitable component for businesses in today’s trade frame work as its fast adopting internet and mobile internet platform to market and communicate to its desired global audience. With very less availability or zero availability of right domain name, .OOO is the new opportunity to have an apt internet address.
Infibeam has partnered with over 20 registrars to make .OOO available to the customers, and business owners worldwide and will offer value added-services like mobile responsive websites, logistics services, payment gateway, website support and marketing support through our registrar partners.
YS: Is there any plan for IPO?
VM: Yes we are evaluating an IPO by March next year. We will file the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) for our upcoming Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,000 crore IPO by the end of this year.
YS: What sorts of scale Infibeam plans to reach with .ooo domain name over the next one year?
Infibeam is aiming to sell around two million .ooo domains in the next 12-18 months globally. Of these, about 5-10 per cent are expected to come from India. It will charge annual subscription fee of Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 per annum for .ooo domain.
YS: Have you raised investments this year? Are you planning to raise funds in case regulatory guidelines evolve in a positive way for e-commerce in India?
VM: We will continue to invest in our business.We’re seriously evaluating an IPO by the year end. In the past, Sony Music had taken strategic stake of 26% in one of our subsidiaries, Infibeam Digital Entertainment, and we are on fast track to hit the market this year as part of our fund-raising program. Sony Music owns 26 per cent in Indent.
YS: Share some details about Buildabazzar's growth over the last six months. BaB also forayed into international markets like the Middle East. How is it faring in global markets?
VM: Infibeam B2B e-commerce platform BuildaBazaar has registered the highest growth in terms of merchant acquisition, and has crossed 30,000 merchants. In 2014, we expanded our presence to Middle Eastern countries like the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We believe e-commerce has huge potential in these markets and BuildaBazaar is extremely well positioned to capture this market.
We are one of the preferred technology partners for major retail and telecom chains in the Middle East, and currently, our platform is used by JUMBO, DU, AXIOM and EROS. We have also plans to expand in more than 50 countries in the next one year, which covers GCC, Europe and South East Asia.
YS: To what extent and in whatways does Infibeam's B2B business compliment B2C business?
VM: We either work for a merchant or customer. All merchants who join Buildabazaar have an opportunity to reach up to consumers on Infibeam. Consumers, on the other hand, can access merchant store by simple log-in by Infibeam and avail other benefits offered on merchants’ own branded stores.