Jaswinder Chadha, Co-founder and CEO of Axtria, and the erstwhile co-founder of MarketRx, which was acquired by Cognizant for $134 million in 2007, talks to Joe C. Mathew about the trends in the data analytics space.
Data analytics is garnering a lot of interest. Is the space becoming crowded?
In terms of the number of entities in this space, it is very crowded. There are no official numbers, but in just the NCR area, there are at least a few hundred data analytics firms. At the same time, it is still a small and immature market. This happens in every industry. Fifteen years ago, everyone in the garage said they can do BPO with just a telephone line and two people. Market maturity came later. Today, we are one of the larger data analytics companies in India; we are only $50 million. When an industry is being formed, it always attracts a lot of attention.
MarketRx happened when the dotcom bubble burst. Axtria started off in the midst of global recession. How do you justify the timing?
You can argue that we are masters at picking the bottom of the market. I believe the hardest constraint for an entrepreneur is to hire people who are smarter than you, where I keep all the upside, while both of us have the same downside. So, recession is the easiest time to hire talent. That's the secret.
You made money out of MarketRx and are once again building scale. What is your advice to start-ups in the data services industry?
One needs to ask three basic questions - is this real, is it worth it, and can you win. Data analytics is real. Is it worth it? An entrepreneur should look at whether the business can add value to the customer, and whether the customer is willing to pay for it. If you look at the global spend on data analytics, it is exploding. The third piece - can you win and what is your unfair competitive advantage - is where a majority of the business plans fail.
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