Commerce Food

Who are the Davids & Goliaths Engaging the Mighty Goliath Amazon in India?

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

An epic conflict rages as we speak across the farms, villages, towns, and cities of emerging superpower India. My family in India is smack-dab in the middle of it too, so this is personal for me. More on this later.

For those of you living outside of India, just imagine a teeming marketplace of consumers much younger and by far larger than that of the United States, with rapid Internet penetration proceeding apace largely thanks to cell phones. The population is also close to overtaking that of China to take the top spot. Just imagine what the Indian consumer will mean for the world economy. Any multinational without a sharp strategy for India has already lost the race. And Amazon is an example of someone who knows this all too well- and investing big accordingly. Add McDonald’s, Domino’s, Pepsico, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and many others to the list.

Amazon is not the only gig economy giant operating in India, either American or Indian. India appropriately as a global tech hub crawling with world-class billionaire IT talent, created behemoths of its own. Ride-share app Ola is facing off against Uber, Zomato is a major player in the food service and delivery space, while any number of home brews are taking Amazon itself head-on with the backing of giant conglomerates like Reliance.

Here I would like to veer a bit into an interesting personal story. In the 1890s my great-grandfather, K.V. Pai started a small business called K.V. Pai & Sons in the temple town of Udupi, Karnataka which is still running today. It’s a grocery store being run by my cousin Ajesh Pai who is the same age as me- the store has stayed at the same location in the same family for four generations, passed down from generation to generation. In recent years the store has leveraged the Internet and digital technology to buy and sell goods to and from local buyers using the eSamudaay platform in order to stay competitive and relevant. One of the founders of this platform is entrepreneur Anup Pai, also from Udupi and someone who even worked in the K.V. Pai grocery store as a youth. And check out Anup’s awesome post about visiting the US for a cross-country road trip, on this blog.

So here is how this all comes together. K.V. Pai had a number of children, who had a number of children, who had a number of children, one of whom is me. (Side note, one of K.V. Pai’s sons K.K. Pai famously veered off from the family business to become a finance tycoon, whose bank provided startup funds to the Ambani family in the 1960s, now the richest billionaire family in Asia)

There are now dozens of us progeny living around the world in my generation, including the United States in my case. But the small business is trucking on, and trying to make its way in the new high-tech gig economy, which fittingly India is a major global player in.

A great video about these breaking business and regulatory developments with serious consequences for the future, including mention of eSamudaay has been put together on YouTube by Indian channel Think School. Check it out below!

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