Exclusive: Times Group Puts NRI Focussed E-commerce Site Hutk on the Backburner to Focus on India

Times Internet Limited owned ecommerce website Hutk, which was positioned as a site for the Indian diaspora has shut down its operation. The site launched in December 2011, used to sell Indian wear, jewellery, flowers and handicrafts targeted at the NRI crowd.

Currently, the message on website says ‘it is under maintenance’, however when contacted by NextBigWhat Subhanker Sarker,COO,Times Internet said “The NRI opportunity is huge but our focus currently is on the Indian Ecommerce market and we want to focus all our energies there only.” 

HUTK

The site and the supporting sourcing relationships are very much alive but we have sought to set customer expectations right by making explicit our decision to not focus there currently, he said.

Hutk offered flower delivery within and outside India and displayed pricing in Indian Rupees, Pound Sterling, Euros and US Dollars, and claimed to deliver worldwide including India. This is the second major killing of its portfolio companies after dumping its mailing service this year.

The news of Hutk shutdown came on onset when NDTV plans to tap $2 billion Indian diaspora (NRIs) market through its subsidiary NDTV Worldwide Ltd.

After Satyan Gajwani had come to helm, Times Internet Limited has been making a few bold moves. The digital arm of one of India’s largest media group, which killed its mailing services some four months ago, also made investments in companies like Fab, ZopNow, Delhivery, ZipDial, MenXP and others recently.

Below is the excerpts of an earlier interview with Satyan Gajwani.

Q: Since taking over at Times Internet, you’ve made investments in companies like Fab and also killed product like Indiatimes mailing service? Was it too little too late?

My focus from day one to position Times Internet Limited as a product focused company as opposed to what people perceive us – content centric company. Fab investment was a part of global strategy of Times Internet, and moreover I know Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shellhammer from quite some time, and fab has been performing awesome over the past year and so.

Certainly, we will be helping Fab to roll out its Indian operation, however it is still at least 12-14 months away from now.

We decided to kill Indiatimes mailing service as we were not able to compete with players like Gmail and Yahoo. Yeah, we have been bit late to kill it, but you know sometimes it takes time to arrive on decisions:) 

Q: How does Times Internet leverage data?

Capturing data would be a top priority for us, and big data is very much important for group like Times Internet. We are sitting on a huge database, and content personalization across our properties is one of our steps towards leveraging data. Meanwhile, how you make big data navigable is a big challenge, and we are spending considerable amount of money and energy to cut through the clutter of data. 

Q: How are things with Indiatimes.com? Any signs of profitability in next 18-20 months.

Things have been really improving. At Indiatimes Shopping, we have been able to minimize our burn rate, although I won’t be able to share numbers, but we are amongst top 5 etailers in the country. This fiscal we aim to do business of Rs. 500 crore and hopefully Rs. 1000 crore by the end of 2014.

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