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The rise of New-Age baniya, courtesy digitally-savvy millennials (Tech Trend-Part I)

Nishant Arora

New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) Born with business in their DNA, baniyas have written several success stories when it comes to traditional, brick-and-mortar industry. With the spurt in digital economy, the clan - be it a Bansal, a Goyal, a Gupta or an Agarwal - has now adapted to newer business models with ease, especially in the burgeoning digital space.

Online food delivery platform Zomato has a masterchef in Deepinder Goyal; Ola is riding on Bhavish Aggarwal; Sachin Bansal helped Flipkart deliver millions of packages; 24-year-old Ritesh Agarwal checked into the budget hotel chain OYO Rooms and Peyush Bansal, founder of Lenskart, has firmly set his eyes on becoming the leader in the eyewear segment.

Zomato has grown into a unicorn valued at $2.3 billion and recently raised $600 million in funding. Ola, India's local rival to Uber and now present in over 125 cities, has seen its valuation jump to nearly $6 billion.

After selling his stake in Flipkart for nearly $1 billion following his ouster from the online retailer, Bansal has invested $100 million in Bhavish-owned Ola and is expected to invest more.

All of them have certain inherent skills in common: unwavering grip over "Hisaab-Kitab" (accounts) and a clear understanding of their "evolved" customers -- most of whom are millennials and are spending most of their time on smartphones and Internet -- from ordering pizzas to calling cabs, booking flights to shopping anywhere, anytime.

Baniyas, an occupational community of merchants, bankers, money-lenders, dealers in grains or spices, who have set up commercial enterprises, have fast reinvented themselves for the changing needs of over 400 million millennials which make up for 46 per cent of the country's workforce, according to a latest Morgan Stanley report.

"The Gen-Y of traditional business families have moved onto the e-commerce bandwagon and are successful due to their exposure to developed economies, newer business models and better education," says Thomas George, Senior Vice President and Head-CyberMedia Research & Services Ltd. (CMR).

With over 400 million smartphone users and more than 500 million broadband users (nearly 97 per cent of them are on wireless connections), the baniya brigade has sensed their biggest-ever opportunity in the e-commerce and online space.

Zomato currently delivers 22 million monthly orders. The company has acquired a desi startup TechEagle Innovations for drone-based food delivery.

According to Deepinder Goyal, Zomato is currently at the early stage of aerial innovations and are taking baby steps towards building a tomorrow wherein users can expect a drone to deliver the food they ordered online.

"We believe that robots powering the last-mile delivery is an inevitable part of the future and hence is going to be a significant area of investment for us," he said, reflecting a clear baniya trait, to sense what the new-age customers want.

According to George, the baniya community is now fueled by evolving customer preferences centred around convenience. "Needless to say, the sunshine sectors have offered wider scope and better growth opportunities for them," George told IANS.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at