Jack Ma’s Success A Pointer To India’s eCommerce Future

Till his name flashed as the founder and the brain behind China’s biggest tech float, or as the man behind the eCommerce company that raised $25 billion through successful IPO at NYSE, China’s Jack Ma and his company Alibaba were pretty much unknown to the world outside. Silicon Valley would have certainly watched his steps, but the kind of success he posted in the recent times, from the communist inroads of China, Jack Ma became a legend of sorts and the name that would be cited as the most successful business in the Internet arena for a long time to come.

For those who have been watching this small-framed man with a genial smile, and unassuming gait, the most successful IPO under his belt is a fitting conclusion to the dream he has been nurturing since a decade and half.

He saw possibilities in a country where the word Internet met with somewhat mixed responses, and manufacturing was at its all time high. To be a dreamer in a country, which was aiming at being a superpower can be both exhilarating and exhausting experience. Because, for those who see the potential but cannot bring a foolproof business plan to the table, the atmosphere can be quite hostile.

The road hasn’t been an easy one. With a name as unconventional as Alibaba (Jack felt this is appropriate because it rolls out smoothly with everyone, and signifies fantasy) Jack Ma went through some phases of disappointment through the IPO rodeo. When his B2B website went public at Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007, the excitement was mixed with the word – caution. Few years later, Jack went downhill with bad times and suffered a bit of reputation loss with a scandal that hit his company.

Nevertheless, with the help of his unconventional approach towards building a strong, profitable and fair company, Jack sprang back on his feet. Few years from an ugly scandal, Jack turned into a household name, and a demigod of sorts for those who are dreaming of leveraging on the potential of Internet.


Personally too, Jack Ma is a story that can inspire many people to rise against the odds. Only he could see opportunity in the rising China, and has changed the way businesses grow in the days to come.

eCommerce has been a rage of sorts in India too. Some of the firms such as Flipkart are out to give tough competition to MNC giants such as Amazon with their specific business acumen as far as local business is concerned.

Jack Ma had two perspectives in his business – one where he found an immediate opportunity and the second one was about the vision that went beyond the visible opportunity.

eCommerce businesses in India today are springing up like never before. With the changed political atmosphere where entrepreneurial ideas are encouraged and allowed to grow by way of creating conducive environs, eCommerce should be able to thrive well on Indian turf.

What Jack Ma saw was the crucial gap between the ‘manufacturing’-oriented China. Businesses that produced goods were aplenty, but the missing link between all of them was the lack of a single platform where they met to take their goods closer to the market in the form of a buyer who would consume, or a supplier who furthered the goods to another one.

It is a given that Alibaba is China’s biggest online commerce company, which has domestic operations. Though this sounds limiting, it should be seen in a perspective that showcases the market size. The ever growing number of Chinese Internet users, despite the fact that social networking sites aren’t allowed by government agencies.

However, here are the stats. With 618 mn Internet users till December 2013, the space of Internet is a large market by itself. This is similar to what India is.

India today makes for a country that has shown great potential in online sales and shopping. Recently, a survey revealed India was among the fastest growing market for online ads, with the number of users who accessed net through their smartphones was growing at a rapid pace.

This is certainly good news for those bright eCommerce minds, which are looking for an opportunity. Indians in the urban areas are changing their conventional habits of simple shopping, replacing it with buying online, to save time and get better deals.

At a time when eCommerce is still a space of bright, young and entrepreneurial minds, it is also time for government to come up with better framework to encourage eCommerce visionaries of the future who would post some astounding success. We can expect India to have its own Alibaba in the e-commerce industry if the government successfully rolls out its Digital India Project.

It’s only a matter of time before India finds its own Jack Ma who will make eCommerce his home.