Corpkart is a unique company in the Channel ecosystem, which has taken a different rout of being an online market place for all infrastructure products. The concept has not only been disliked by the traditional partners but also been conspired to stop such moves. However, Vishal Sopory, ceo & co-founder, corpkart has done it to a greater success. As an innovator and mentor, he spoke about channel challenges. Excerpts.
You being the channel veteran what is your reckoning of total channel market size in India?
There are about 10,000 channel participants in India. These will be companies organised as resellers, VARs, SIs and Service Providers. Collectively they address an IT market size of over 10 Bn USD. This is the size of commercial IT in India.
What are the major challenges of Indian channel partners?
The small size of typical Indian channel partners is the main limitation and this manifests in most of the challenges they face. It hinders their access to opportunities of any significant size and in turn limits access to resources, new technologies, growth and most significantly ability to attract and retain quality personnel.
In a working capital intensive business where the ability to receive and extend credit is paramount being small is a definite disadvantage. Given low barriers to entry, this will remain the challenge and only players who will be successful will be the ones who will strive and bulk up.
What channel needs to do to enhance their business?
The channel needs to organise itself in more formal structures, so as it can resolve access to capital and talent. The days of single man operations dealing in cash are long gone. This is in addition to keeping a tab on technology trends and selecting right OEM partnerships to address their customer needs.
Is there any fear in the mind about taking risk around investing in new domains?
Markets evolve, and most participants have to follow the trends sooner or later. There are always pioneers who take risks and lead into new domains with investments. Sometimes they fail but in most cases, the benefits are disproportionate given early mover advantage. Every business must earmark some resources and make investments in new, unknown areas.
Why channel is always in financial trouble?
Again it is back to the size, informal structure and low barriers to entry. Small operators who have a tiny capital base and limited ability to attract working capital financing are dependent on suppliers to keep them afloat. Single delay in a project payment and they are in default or on the verge of default. It is time for smaller players to consolidate and pool their resources to be financially stronger companies.