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To win India, you have to win culture; And culture can mean a lot of things: Times Bridge CEO Rishi Jaitly

20 31 20
29.10.2018

Times Group’s strategic investment arm Times Bridge is bringing a host of “internationally proven” internet businesses to India. CEO Rishi Jaitly breaks down what goes into its impact investing.

Rishi Jaitly joined Times Bridge as CEO in the fall of 2016 after successful stints at Google, YouTube, and Twitter. His last role was India Market Director and VP of Twitter’s APAC/Middle East operations.

Over the last decade, Rishi has extensively toured India, evangelised its internet ecosystem, interacted with stakeholders from the government and NGOs to businesses and sports federations, and helped them “take flight” in an increasingly interconnected world.

At Times Bridge — the global investment arm of Times Group — Rishi helps international businesses “and ideas travel evenly” to India, which is almost a buzzword in Silicon Valley. “I go to a lot of conferences where people proudly project that they have planted their flag in India. The challenge really is to show them additional possibilities,” Rishi tells us during his visit to Mumbai.

He oversees Times Bridge’s enviable portfolio of companies that include cross-category internet leaders like Airbnb, Coursera, Houzz, MUBI, Smule, Uber, Vice, Business Insider, and Thrive Global.

Rishi Jaitly, CEO of Times Bridge

All these “internationally proven” businesses are looking to establish themselves in the Indian market. Rishi and his team provide them with strategic investments, operational support, counsel, consulting, and help leverage the legacy Times Group’s strong understanding of the Indian consumer.

Rishi speaks to YourStory about Times Bridge’s investing philosophy, its partner-companies, the changing digital and entrepreneurial ecosystem in India, what it takes to go beyond “superficial” market growth and the rising demand from China.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

YourStory: In the last 10 years, what has changed in the ecosystem, and the way people do business here?

Rishi Jaitly: A lot of my journey in the last 10 years has been to help global mission-driven internet platforms think differently about India. In this country, everybody has scale, but scale doesn’t necessarily mean “emerging”.

The story of Digital India is now being told. The story of mobile usage is dramatically different from two years ago. The non-usage English too is a different story. While at Twitter, I don’t recall it being a heavy topic. So, those two things are real changes.

The other thing that has changed is - there is no one button that drives consumer growth of a digital product in India. It is not just about performance marketing or localising your app or throwing in a dot-in. It is a multitude of things.

You got to think about how to work with NGOs, what is your connection with Bollywood, how to involve sports federations, how to work with the government. If you’re coming to India, you are not just thinking about sales. You have to think about how to work with telcos and these phone makers, if you are a digital business. So, there are many stakeholders. I think growth in this market requires a much wider approach and not just a dot.in.

YS: Is it now easier to sell India to established global businesses?

RJ: I think it’s a double-edged sword. If you were to talk to entrepreneurs around the world about the Indian market, they will say it is a blessing. You go to San Francisco, Stockholm, Shanghai, everybody will speak with pride about how they are doing in India, the growth they are seeing, which is great. Everybody has an initial scale in India. So, it’s easy to sell........

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