www.indiainfoline.com completes 14 successful years

...It is indeed amazing and incredible how quickly an Internet startup like India Infoline (IIFL) could emerge as one of the leading financial services companies in India

May 11, 2013 7:52 IST | India Infoline News Service
The indiainfoline website completes 14 years on Saturday, May 11. What an exciting journey it has been. Perhaps, no other industry has been impacted by the Internet as much as the stock market.

“Technology and the Internet, while making markets efficient and consumer oriented, have also brought unthinkable changes to the pecking order of the industry. For reasons of evolution, inheritance and pedigree, banks and financial institutions/financial services organisations would evolve and grow over generations. It would not be even thinkable for a new incumbent player to challenge the established organisation and financial services players. Now, when I look back, it is indeed amazing and incredible how quickly an Internet start up like India Infoline (IIFL) could emerge as one of the leading financial services companies in India,” wrote Nirmal Jain, Chairman, IIFL  in NETCH@KRA – 15 years of Internet in India.

The website soon became as one of India’s leading online destinations for personal finance, stock markets, economy and business. A forerunner in the field of equity research, IIFL’s research is acknowledged by none other than Forbes as ‘Best of the Web’ and ‘…a must read for investors in Asia. Our research is available not just over the Internet but also on international wire services like Bloomberg, Thomson First Call and Internet Securities besides others.

The company has evolved and emerged as a leading financial services firm picking up the best awards in most segments it has entered; the most recent one being an award for customer service. In recent years, FLAME  (Financial Literacy Agenda for Mass Empowerment) has been enhanced to help investors understand complex financial instruments and keep track of changes in existing ones. This has been done through a dedicated portal www.flame.org.in

Today, corporates and individuals are hooked on to the social network too. Each day, new applications are changing the way we consume news. www.indiainfoline.com stays committed to provide fast, accurate, relevant, comprehensive, concise and meaningful. We have now partnered with Dow Jones Newswire to provide you that extra edge.

In the years to come, every single business is likely to be driven by the Internet. Even huge land reforms, government activities, reduction in corruption, red tape, and improvement in collective communication will take place via the Internet.

Before we look at some of our important milestones in IIFL’s journey since the launch of the website, read what IIFL’s Managing Director, R Venkataraman had penned in a nostalgic mood a couple of years ago: 

"It was 6 AM in the morning and people were frantically searching for the home page. Business Standard was carrying an advertisement to announce the launch of www.indiainfoline.com  and the landing page had disappeared. Needless to say, it was found as the programmer had hidden it to protect it and had dozed off without informing. On May 11, 1999, Probity Research became India Infoline

The days, leading to the launch were chaotic, to say the least. It is to Nirmal’s credit and never say die attitude that such a journey was even planned. Senior management went to attend a web design and HTML course at the nearby training center. That was abandoned in double quick time when we realised that the trainer herself did not know how to use a mouse properly.  HTML for Dummies was our bible.


In those days, there were two aspects of launching the website -- content and technology. Content was the relatively easier part as Probity Research's in-house equities content ran into millions of pages. The challenge was to add everything you want to know about Indian business and economy, for which we needed to add law, personal finance, education and so on. There was a team generating pages of word documents.


The key challenge confronting management was how to convert this to HTML documents and upload. For this, like all good managers, we approached technology companies for a solution. The most economical quote, since we were going to upload millions of pages, was Rs500 per HTML page. Given our financials, this meant that all we had, plus the humungous debt would be simply used to pay the solution provider.


A trespasser, who wanted to be an analyst, was recruited as a programmer and he was the architect of our HTML factory.  At night, when the world was sleeping, we had people pressing a button and generating millions of HTML pages. The other challenge was charting. No website on stock markets could be launched without charts. My junior from college, took charge as technology head and organised server hosting.


Before we could launch, walletwatch.com was launched by Satyam and I remember going to office and seeing crest fallen faces. Nirmal addressed everyone in our cramped meeting room and used the magic phrase – content is king in the media business and nobody can match us in breadth or depth of our content. 

We had a huge library of balance sheets and one incident is still etched in my mind. A fund manager came to our Gokhale Road office and after the meeting, was talking about some regional media companies and casually asked if we had the balance sheet of Sandesh Ltd. To his amazement, we gave him the balance sheet in two minutes. The other factory we ran was the balance sheet and quarterly results factory.


People fed in data in a specified format and then at a press of a button the HTML exe used to convert.


Recruitment process was shortened to a three minute exercise. We had parallel interviews in a small meeting room. Some of our best recruits happened in those times. In fact, one person was recruited on the basis of a two minute standing interview in the corridor because of the lack of space.  ‘Do you drink?’ was our standard question and this used to confuse the candidate because he did not know how to respond. 

Strategy meetings were held in a place called 'Mailoo' which unfortunately has converted itself to a more respectable bakery. 

Our key mantra was '123 Laga Dal'. Expanded, this stood for,
Ek chotta sa problem hai, Do line ka code hai, teen minute ka kaam hai…laga dal.  


It was this laga dal spirit which enabled us to launch a website with minimal technology resources, withstand the crisis of 2001 and emerge stronger."

And now the Milestones:

1999 - Launched www.indiainfoline.com.

2000 - Launched online trading through www.5paisa.com. Started distribution of life insurance and mutual fund products.

2003 - Launched proprietary trading platform Trader Terminal for retail customers.

2004 - Acquired commoditiesbroking licence. Launched Portfolio Management Service

2005 - Maiden IPO and listed onNSE, BSE

2006 - Acquired membership of DGCX. Commenced lending business.

2007 - Commenced institutional equities business under IIFL . Formed Singapore subsidiary, IIFL (Asia) Pte Ltd

2008 - Launched IIFL Wealth.Transitioned to insurance broking model

2009 - Acquired registration for Housing Finance. Received SEBI in-principle approval for a mutual fund. Obtained Venture Capital licence.

2010 - Received in-principle approval for membership of the Singapore Stock Exchange. Bagged membership of the Colombo Stock Exchange.

2011 - Launched IIFL Mutual Fund.

2012 – Launched Real Estate Fund. Received registration for distribution of NPS from PFRDA

2013 – IIFL raises India’s largest Alternate Investment Fund of Rs.6.28bn



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