Noida-based Honey Gupta had launched a business-to-business (B2B) lead generation business in 2011 — the time when e-commerce or internet-based marketplaces were at the cusp of achieving breakout growth with increasing internet penetration. Gupta’s lead generation business MyCityCue.com started with listing traders, manufacturers, and suppliers of different products and services free of cost. The company carried out online promotions for them (free of cost?) to generate leads and sell those leads to the right buyers including IndiaMART.
“Everything was going great. We had nearly 150-200 monthly paying customers. However, things changed almost overnight towards the end of 2011,” Gupta told Financial Express Online.
In February 2011, Google had made changes to its algorithms that decided how websites are ranked in search results in the US. The intent was to improve the search quality by reducing rankings for websites that lured traffic from Google search and attracted advertising revenue. However, this also impacted rankings for many sites.
“It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem,” the company blog post on February 24, 2011, said. Later during the year, the changes were launched in other countries with a similar impact on many websites that lacked quality content as well.
“B2B listing companies like us used to put two-three lines of information about the product and company along with contact details. When Google changed its algorithms and started giving weightage to content, companies like us started losing. Within 15-20 days, we realized something was going wrong for cataloging companies like ours that were not content friendly at that time and depended on the listings part only. All rankings and SEO optimization vanished within around two-three weeks. Our advertising revenue dropped drastically,” added Gupta.
As an entrepreneur, Gupta was at a crossroads. The choice was between overhauling the entire website including the design, all catalogs, and rebuilding the portal or calling it quits. The revamp needed a lot of money. “It was a profitable venture with at least Rs 15-20 lakh per month revenue. But the capital needed to build everything again was much more than that and no investor would have put money into it,” said Gupta.
This was early 2012. Gupta eventually had to let go of his venture that approximately had an average turnover of around Rs 2 crore. The turnover details weren’t shared by Gupta. On the other hand, the manpower loss wasn’t significant since it was only a five-member team. Nonetheless, after selling all leads to IndiaMART and other businesses and shutting down MyCityCue, Gupta took up a job for around three years. In 2015, he returned to entrepreneurship with Truphe.
With his network of B2B suppliers, Gupta explored the machine tools segment. He picked gardening tools to venture into and in the following seven years, expanded to other categories in the segment such as seeds, pots, plant stands, watering cans, soil ingredients, and more. Gupta currently retails through his company website and e-commerce marketplaces Amazon and Flipkart.
The biggest learning for Gupta has been to focus on content irrespective of type, size, and platform. “This should be important from day one. I started again from my drawing room and today the business has achieved an impressive size,” said Gupta without disclosing the revenue. The company aims to expand to other categories such as lawnmowers and chainsaws. Truphe had raised undisclosed funding last month from Thrasio-style startup UpScalio to scale the business to Rs 50 crore revenue in the next one-two year.