Skip to main content

Entrevista with Raj Nair, Founder of Avalon Consulting

Cross Posted from the Entrevista blog.

Interview with Raj Nair, Founder-Chairman of Avalon Consulting, the Mumbai-headquartered, international consulting firm and also research and analytics firm Ugam Solutions and artificial intelligence software firm . Interview begins with how Ugam Solutions' founding & funding - especially how the company "pivoted" to completely new business in 50 days flat! The interviewer is fellow entrepreneur Chandu Nair. Chandu earlier founded, successfully raised venture capital for and exited from Scope eKnowledge, one of the earliest KPO firms in India.

The Audio (podcast) version can be downloaded from here 


  • Striking balance between Flexibility & Measurement in the Early Years: In the initial years of starting up,  it’s important to have the flexibility to course correct and not put pressure on the business with a rigid business model, ambitious target, etc. “There is (however) a difference between chaos and experimentation. Every day, you need to check if things are ‘happening or not happening’. You cannot be like Christopher Columbus saying 'I somehow want to reach India' and set sail without doing any homework. For every Columbus who got lucky, there are probably thousands who just lost their way.”

  • Pricing based on Value: How even with no relevant experience behind them, Raj and his team decided to price their market research services at double the prevalent rates and got away with it.

  • Spotting Entrepreneurial Opportunities - in the Pre- Liberalization Days (Market Research) and in Today's Social Media Driven Days (Germinait which mines Social Media for market research using technology tools). Very interesting accounts of the work that Germinait did  for measuring the impact of a well known teleco's ad campaign and how it's helping an leading kids TV channel measure social media conversations to decide which characters to promote.

  • Experience brings Empathy: “When I started my journey, I used to view colleagues as fellow professionals and it was all about delivering results to clients. Today, I look at them as individual persons - someone whose wife had a migraine in the morning and he had to deal with it before coming; another whose child did not get admitted into a school or that he deserved to and so on. One understands how the environment affects an individual’s behavior, output and productivity at the workplace. In one word, Empathy. And that is something that can’t be taught in a business school.”

  • Don't tell your children what (career) path to take. Only if they decide for themselves, will they will own up to the responsibility for what they do!

  • Parting Wisdom: Make sure you are having fun! "When you are enjoying, a lot of the hardships don’t seem that big. When you are not enjoying what you are doing, even a small thing becoming a big issue. So make sure whatever you are going to do will give you tremendous satisfaction and happiness. Don't do get into some line of business just because 'the money is great' (and) unless you are going to enjoy the journey."
Venture Intelligence is the leading provider of data and analysis on Private Company Financials, Transactions (private equity, venture capital and M&A) & their Valuations in India. Click Here to view our products list including the Free Deal Digest Weekly: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

Popular posts from this blog

VC Interview: Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital India

In a recent interview to Venture Intelligence, Shailendra Singh discussed some of the firm’s newer investments in the early stage segment including in the online payments space, the progress at a few existing portfolio companies and the active role the firm is playing in helping its portfolio companies scale and succeed in India and globally. Prior to joining the firm in 2006, Singh was a strategy consultant at Bain & Company in New York and before that, an entrepreneur in the digital media industry.

Venture Intelligence: How does Sequoia go about identifying potential early stage investments in India? Is there anything different you are doing today than, say, a couple of years back?

Shailendra Singh: There is a lot more focus on technology investing and early stage investing. In general, as you might remember a few years ago, we were doing primarily growth investing but in the past 18-odd months, we have had a very strong focus on early stage and that’s continuing. In terms of how…

PE Investments down by 36% in Q1'20

Press Release
Private Equity-Venture Capital (PE-VC) firms invested $5.9 Billion (across 164 deals) during the quarter ended March 2020 - 36% lower than the $9.2 Billion (across 249 transactions) during the same period last year, according to data from Venture Intelligence, a research service focused on private company financials, transactions and their valuations. The Q1'20 investments were also 37% lower compared to the immediate previous quarter (which had witnessed $9.4 Billion being invested across 227 transactions). (Note: These figures include Venture Capital investments, but exclude PE investments in Real Estate).
The latest quarter witnessed 14 PE-VC investments worth $100 million or more, down from the 20 such transactions in the same period last year. The largest PE-VC investment announced during Q1’20 was the $567 million takeover of power generation company RattanIndia Power by Goldman Sachs and Varde Partners. The second largest investment was SoftBank Vision Fund…

Ambit tops League Table for Transaction Advisors to Private Equity deals in 2019

Ambit Corporate Finance topped theVenture Intelligence League Table for Transaction Advisor to Private Equity Transactions for the year 2019. Ambit advised PE deals worth $2.4 Billion (across 4 qualifying transactions) during the period. Citi ($1.1 Billion across 2 deals) and Avendus ($969 million across 12 deals) took the second and third spot. Edelweiss Financial Services ($758 million across 9 deals) and PwC ($708 million across 15 deals) completed the top five in 2019. 

The Venture Intelligence League Tables, the first such initiative exclusively tracking transactions involving India-based companies, are based on value of PE and M&A transactions advised by Financial and Legal Advisory firms.
Ambit Corporate Finance advised the $1.9 Billion buyout of Pipeline Infrastructure from Reliance Industriesby Brookfield Asset Management and the IFC and I Squared Capital-backedCube Highways' acquisition of Delhi-Agra Toll Road from Reliance Infrastructure (Reliance ADAG). Citi advise…

PE investments in 2018 crosses $33-B to set new all-time high

Big Ticket investments in consumer apps Swiggy & Byju’s dominates year-end activity, even as investments in Core Sectors slow down
Private Equity (PE) investments in India rose to their highest ever figure of $33.1 billion in 2018 (across 720 transactions), according to data from Venture Intelligence (, a research service focused on private company financials, transactions and their valuations. While PE investments have already surpassed the previous high - $24.3 Billion across 734 deals in 2017 - in the first nine months of 2018, the mega investments in Consumer Internet & Mobile startups such as Swiggy and Byjus towards the year-end, helped the 2018 total vault by 36% year-on-year. (Note: These figures include Venture Capital investments, but exclude PE investments in Real Estate.) The year witnessed 81 PE investments worth $100 million or more (accounting for 77% of the total investment value during the period), compared to 47 such transac…

"Leveraged stock purchase led Arvind Rao to go astray": Forbes India

Forbes India has an article on the series of events leading to the recent controversial exit of Arvind Rao, Co-founder & CEO of listed Mobile VAS firm OnMobile.

On November 23, 2010, Arvind Rao, the 53-year-old co-founder and CEO of OnMobile, bought approximately 6 lakh shares of his company from the open market, representing a little over 1 percent of the company’s total shares....At Rs 277 a share, he had to pony up nearly Rs 16.5 crore to acquire them....So he went ahead and borrowed money to buy the shares, thinking nothing of the interest it entailed or the fact that he’d need to put up nearly half his existing shareholding as collateral...OnMobile’s shares continued to fall from those levels, while Rao’s interest payments ballooned.

...Motivated by OnMobile’s growth all these years, he had never paid much attention to his salary, most of which went towards the monthly rental on his sea-facing apartment in Mumbai and his BMW 7-Series, both paid directly by the company. He reque…