Finding the right partner
At the time Mitsui was mulling its investment, two shopping channels dominated the TV shopping business in India. Both, however, already had powerful backers in place. But that is far from the only reason why Mitsui made the decision to team up with Naaptol Online Shopping Private Ltd, acquiring a 20% stake in two tranches (5% stake in March 2015 followed by a further 15% in November the same year).
Although a relatively young company, Naaptol had a range of unique strengths. Founder CEO Manu Agarwal is a serial entrepreneur and thanks to his IT background—his previous company was a software business—Naaptol’s IT team were able to invent a new package-tracking technology. This technology enabled Naaptol to use the standard postal service of India Post (which has no tracking capabilities of its own) to secure genuinely nationwide distribution—something neither his larger rivals could offer.
Naaptol was also growing at breakneck speed. Founded in 2008, the company began making short infomercials for broadcast on satellite and cable channels in mid-2012. In July 2014 it launched a 24-hour Hindi shopping channel. By the time of Mitsui’s initial investment in March 2015, it had added a second shopping channel in Tamil, one of India’s most widely spoken languages. As of early 2016, Naaptol was broadcasting shopping channels in six different languages, as well as placing more than one hundred hours of infomercials on other channels. It plans to launch live broadcasts in four more languages soon.