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It was 11 April, and Southeast Asian tech giant GoTo had just listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), raising US$1.1 billion. Anil Kumar, seated in his plush office overlooking Cubbon Park, Bengaluru’s green haven, was brimming with pride. His firm, Redseer Strategy Consultants, was commissioned to write the industry overview for GoTo’s IPO prospectus—offering prospective investors an overview of the e-commerce, wallet, and ride-hailing industries.

Not only does the 12-year-old, bootstrapped firm charge a significant premium for its IPO services—it didn’t share an exact figure with The Ken—but it’s also getting commissioned by most IPO-bound internet companies. From Paytm, Nykaa, and Zomato to OYO, Mobikwik, and Navi, many startups are availing its ‘industry overview’ services. Redseer claims to have worked on 30 IPOs in 2021—of which seven were in India, Southeast Asia, and West Asia—and has 15 more that are in the process of going public.

In doing so, it has displaced firms such as Technopak, Frost and Sullivan, and Crisil, which typically draft such overviews. Today a de-facto internet market research firm in India, Redseer wants to be seen as a premium consultancy firm for internet companies. Though it began as a market researcher for other consultancy firms like Mckinsey, Boston Consulting Global (BCG), etc., as “an SOS button for consultants to press”, as Kumar put it, it is now a consultant for startups itself.

“We mostly got the Stage-4 cases. When everyone had given up on the job,” said 40-year-old founder and CEO Kumar. With this reinvention of Redseer’s perception, Kumar hopes to meet the trifecta of demand his business entails—to create value, charge dollars, and command respect.

“There has to be a right combination of these three aspects,” he said. Does Redseer pass the test?

When it comes to value, Redseer had brick-by-brick built a market research ecosystem that about 200 clients flock to—ranging from startups like Flipkart, Ola, MyGate, Cure.fit, to investors like Tiger Global, DST Global, GIC, to corporates like Tata and Unilever. Investors come to Redseer to know the ins and outs of the companies they want to invest in—their P&L, target market size, and market share of competitors. Companies come to the consultancy for surveys on new micro-markets, spending habits, and most importantly, competitive analysis.

As for dollars, Redseer has gone from undercutting its competition on price to pricing itself at a premium. Its revenue, claimed Kumar, saw a 100% growth in topline from US$9.4 million in the year ended March 2021 to US$20 million the following year, with US$10 million in bottomline for the year ending March 2022.

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But the third aspect—respect—does not come easy. There are allegations that Redseer’s methods of research have not been above-board, opening it up to questions—“How does it get this data?”, “How does Redseer know?” Redseer’s flagship reports on annual e-commerce festive sales that capture Amazon and Flipkart’s market share have repeatedly been contested by Amazon.

AUTHOR

Arundhati Ramanathan

Arundhati is interested in how people use money in the digital age and how new economies will take shape based on that interaction. She writes the newsletter Ka-Ching! every Monday. She lives in Bengaluru and has spent over 12 years reporting and writing on various subjects.

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