New Delhi. The recent IPO of Alibaba has grabbed headlines and set the internet on fire. The Alibaba story has been hailed as the coming of age of Chinese entrepreneurship. However, there’s an inspiring Indian entrepreneurship success story that has been missed in all this din – that of Nirmalbaba.
Nirmalbaba.com is a popular Indian web portal that is into religious e-commerce, among other things – first of its kind in the world.
The site connects religious young Indians with Godmen and religious gurus across the country. The website also exposes young Indians to many of our age-old superstitions to ensure that such beliefs are passed on to the current and future generations.
We spoke to the young and ambitious founder of Nirmalbaba.com, Mr. Raghurama to find out about his success story.
Raghurama, 29, has an engineering degree from IIT Delhi and MBA from IIM Lucknow. A little over 3 years ago, Raghurama, working for a foreign bank in its Mumbai office then, decided to quit his well-paid job and start something on his own.
What made you quit your comfortable job and start Nirmalbaba, we asked him. This is what he had to say: “I’ve always wanted to start my own company. Somehow, the idea of working for someone else never appealed to me (laughs). I was working in Mumbai and was doing quite well. When I was looking for business opportunities, I realised that religion/spirituality is possibly the biggest money-spinner in the country. I was amazed to see how several Indian religious/spiritual leaders with dubious credentials were running organisations that very successful commercially. I sensed that there’s a huge untapped potential in this sector. I felt there’s a huge population in India waiting to be exploited. That’s when I started Nirmalbaba.com with one objective – to exploit internet savvy young Indians.”
“We undertake activities like enhancing the reach of hundreds of Godmen across the country to make them known to a new target audience for which we charge a nominal fee. For instance, Swami Nithyananda may not be known to many people outside South India. Asaram Bapu may not be popular in South India. Nirmalbaba will help these gurus gain foothold in new markets. At the same time millions of young Indians can get exposed to thousands of gurus and can choose whom they want to fall prey to. We also educate Indians about a variety of superstitious beliefs that they can follow. For instance, imagine a scenario where you are on your way to an important meeting when a black cat crosses your path. There’s nothing to worry – just go to Nirmalbaba app on your smartphone, pay Rs. 50 and perform a quick puja on the site to get rid of the bad omen. This is just a glimpse into Nirmalbaba,” he told Faking News.
“There are many other activities that we do like organising special prayer sessions before school tests, college exams or other such important events wherein we charge a reasonable fee from users for the same. Users can also buy custom-made talismans and several other such accessories at cheap prices. There are festival offers, bulk discounts etc – ways to spend money on the site are endless and we are astounded by the success we’ve seen,” he chuckles.
If rumours are to be believed, Nirmalbaba is already worth around USD 100 million. “We recently got a fresh round of PE funding. We are confident about the huge growth potential India offers. Demographic dividend is our biggest strength – millions of gullible youngsters, who normally spend their time on the internet gawking at Deepika’s cleavage on ToI website, can find peace of mind through our website. This portal will help channelise their energies in more productive endeavours,” Raghurama added.
When we asked Raghurama about his plans for Nirmalbaba and his message to young Indians, he said, “There’s no dearth of talent in India. Our brains are as good as Chinese brains or Americans’. We need to start believing in ourselves and take to entrepreneurship in a big way. In the context of Nirmalbaba, we’ll not confine it to people in India. We’ll look beyond our shores – NRIs being our next target. Also, our plan is to list on NYSE in not-so-distant future, may be in the next 3 years. We believe that the desi version of Alibaba has the potential to grow bigger than the Chinese e-commerce portal,” he signs off.