Axtria CEO, Jaswinder Chadha, in his interview with Sramana Mitra, outlines his journey from setting up Axtria, a big data and analytics company, and scaling it to new heights. Read on to find out the details.
Part 1 :
Outsourced analytics services have been a popular category, especially in the US-India mode. Jaswinder has built not one, but two of these businesses.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Jaswinder Chadha: I grew up in Punjab, India. My father was in the army, so I was born in the military hospital. My mom was a professor at a university. I spent most of my childhood at the army base because my dad was getting posted all over the country. It was more of a stable base for us to get our education. I graduated from IIT – Delhi and came to the US in 1990 for graduate studies. Then, I ended up going for Ph.D. as well. I went to Texas A&M. That has been my foundation in education before I jumped into the business world.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do right after your Ph.D.? What was the next step?
Part 2 :
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click on that a bit. You founded marketRx in which year?
Jaswinder Chadha: In 2000.
Sramana Mitra: You self-financed that project?
Jaswinder Chadha: No. The first round of financing was friends and family. We did another round of financing from angel investors. The third round was when we brought in a group by the name of Westbridge Capital in Bangalore, which eventually became Sequoia India.
Sramana Mitra: I know Westbridge really well actually. What was the stage? You launched the company with some friends and family money. What was the next step? What kind of customer traction were you able to get before getting the angel money?
Part 3 :
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?
Part 4 :
Sramana Mitra: What is your model? Do you do services? Do you have products? What’s the business?
Jaswinder Chadha: It’s all of the above but we, primarily, view ourselves as a services company. Even software today is a services business. In some ways, we have an advantage in that we came from building products and delivering services on this platform. Typically, product companies don’t have a strong DNA of delivering services to clients. Fortunately, we do.
We invested a significant amount in building products. We actually have a number of accelerators and platforms that we use to deliver business planning, business analytics, and business process management services to the clients.
Sramana Mitra: The products are not sold outside. The products are used as tools by your service people.
Part 5 :
Sramana Mitra: This is a US–India model since Helion is involved?
Jaswinder Chadha: Yes. Two-thirds are in India and the rest are in the United States.
Sramana Mitra: Where in India is your operations?
Jaswinder Chadha: In Gurgaon.
Sramana Mitra: What else is interesting in the story that you want to share?