My investor and business clients are increasingly interested in investing in India. While many of the conversations are about the less glamorous sectors, the chatter about social media is unavoidable.
A quick Google search on the ‘social media opportunity in India’ brings up over 0.5 million articles, in English alone. This suggests a considerable degree of interest in the topic. This interest is evident in conversations with some investors in London too. Understanding the opportunity however needs more than interest. It needs clear analysis.
Although things are changing for the better and the more efficient, setting up a business in India remains quite challenging for most. Two sets of problems come up instantly – corruption and infrastructure.
The former’s many facets need no explanation. In Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index report, India has an unflattering 85th position. The legendary ‘Mr Fix-It’, admitted by many executives as being essential to success in India, has recently had his own cover story in a recent issue of Wired magazine, titled The Godfather of Bangalore.
Infrastructure in India is a multi-headed Ladon ‘guarding’ the golden apples of the Indian market. Investors admit to their first-time-in-India shock rather candidly but truly getting over bumpy roads, snarly traffic, unreliable telephony infrastructure and rolling power cuts (although I find it hard to imagine The Taj ever has one) takes a thicker skin and a very deep commitment to cracking the Indian market.
Social media businesses bypass both these bottlenecks with relative ease. An internet-based social media business can be set up with minimal permissions. If the business can find a reliable bandwidth and storage provider, of which there is no paucity in India now, we are in business. Prima facie, the social media scene in India does seem to offer an attractive investment proposition.
In the next post, I shall write about some of the most popular social media businesses in India and what investment opportunities may be around.