BANGALORE, INDIA, March 19, 2012 (Times Of India): Interest in India's spiritual and religious market is now spawning a whole variety of startups and online ventures. And many are taking advantage of the market's fragmentation and low technology penetration.
Goonjan Mall, founder of Online Prasad, not only now brings you prasad from different temples, but has also launched a first-of-its-kind private label brand, Zevotion, of hand-picked Rudraksha beads and yantras, connecting people to their faith. "Our research showed that about 80% of religious products sold in the country is counterfeit. Zevotion offers certified products assuring customers true value for their money," said Mall, who quit his job as a senior analyst in consulting firm Bain & Co to launch Onlineprasad.com.
Serial entrepreneur K. Ganesh, who picked up 35% stake in Onlineprasad.com, said that with 1.2 billion people and 330 million Gods and Goddesses in India, faith was price inelastic. "Devotees don't take a decision to make a pilgrimage or visit a temple based on price," he said.
Ganesh said the country's top 20 temples, including Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam and Vaishno Devi, collect US$816 million as donations annually, while 500 mid-sized temples collect $3.3 billion in donations every year. "There are another hundred thousand small temples and one million roadside temples collecting between $8 billion and $16 billion as donations each year," he said. That's a phenomenal market that startups can disrupt with technology, and in some ways bring God closer to people.