Sramana Mitra: What about your operations team? Part of the people who were executing on these projects were in India? Is that why you raised money from Bangalore?
Jaswinder Chadha: Yes. Actually, we raised money before we set up our operations in India. We were one of the companies to do data analytics in India. We were the first and the largest data analytics company built out of India.
Sramana Mitra: You raised your first institutional round at about $12 million a year run rate?
Jaswinder Chadha: Correct.
Sramana Mitra: How far did you go before you sold the company?
Jaswinder Chadha: We grew the business to about $50 million in revenues. We sold the company in 2007 to Cognizant.
Sramana Mitra: What next? Did you have to go to Cognizant to work there?
Jaswinder Chadha: Yes. I didn’t have to, but I did. I had never worked for a large company, so that was a great training for me. Cognizant is one of the most successful companies built in the last 20 years. There are very few companies who have been able to scale their revenues over $10 billion almost all organically. I had an opportunity to work there.
They gave me the mandate to build a data analytics project for them. They’re largely an IT services and a BPO company. They didn’t have anything much to show for on the business analytics side of it. I did that for a couple of years until I realized that I’m not a big company person. I needed to be an entrepreneur again. I started our current company Axtria about five years ago.
Sramana Mitra: What was the premise of Axtria?
Jaswinder Chadha: The major trend was that there was a lot more awareness of Big Data as compared to this very niche business that we had built earlier. There is a confluence of data, technology, and business. Most of the traditional providers of services in that area were siloed. People were good at business consulting, providing technology services, and doing niche analytics, but very few people understood the complete construct of the complete business process – knowing what data to use, generate insights, what technology tools to use.
We saw a major opportunity as data was exploding that the business customers wanted to bring this analytics inside. We started working backwards from that. We identified a couple of verticals that would make sense. Obviously, pharma would be a natural one since we knew that space well. We also saw a big opportunity in banking as well as in retail. Those are three primary verticals that we currently work in.