Business Today

People, places and products

Here is our take on people, places and products doing the rounds these days.

Print Edition: October 3, 2010

Deep Kalra, CEO, MakeMyTrip

Base Camp at NASDAQ
It was the day the traders saluted the trippers. On August 12, when DEEP KALRA clanged the opening bell on the NASDAQ stock market in the United States, it was a gratifying moment for the founder and CEO of, and its 750-odd employees (who call themselves 'trippers'). Arguably India's best-known online travel portal, the decade-old MakeMyTrip raised $70 million via a wildly-successful IPO that was oversubscribed several times over. In the process, the company now rubs shoulders with Google, Yahoo!, eBay and Amazon, as well as Chinese search engine stocks Baidu and Sohu.

On the day the stock listed, its price went up from $14 to close at $26.25, a climb of 89 per cent, making it one of the most successful opening days on the US exchange since the dotcom bust in 1999-2000. On September 8, a day before BT went to press, MakeMyTrip was still headed north, closing at $33.65. But why did Kalra make the trip to the NASDAQ and not to good old Dalal Street?

"The NASDAQ is the spiritual home of technology companies," says Kalra, who turned 39 recently. "We are the first Indian consumer-oriented company to list in the US. Investors have heard of the Indian consumer story and this was an opportunity to invest in it," he adds. Kalra reckons - with his tongue firmly in his cheek - that the happiest people should be his competitors because "by going public, we have shown the way." So who's next in line to make the trip?

- Kushan Mitra

Arvind Bremanandam, Founder, Chennai Event Management Services

Autos Rally This Man
In early August, a motley crowd of Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Britishers and Africans was seen test-driving autorickshaws along Chennai's beach. They were in India to participate in the Mumbai Xpress, a 14-day rally from Chennai to Mumbai, a distance of some 2,000 km. There were no maps or GPS gadgets and the participants had to find their own way by making enquiries and savouring local food on the way. ARVIND BREMANANDAM, 33, the man behind this unique event, says: "It is for fun and to get the foreigners to experience the real culture of India and meet the man on the street.'' Five years ago, when he decided to set up Chennai Event Management Services, a business involving rallies, corporates showed little interest. But that's changing. Now, he plans to go national to tap pan-India sponsors.

- Nitya Varadarajan

Rishad Premji, Chief Strategy Officer, Wipro Technologies

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji's son RISHAD, 33, a Harvard B-school graduate, is in the final stages of his ascent to the top of the company. Recently, he was made Wipro's Chief Strategy Officer. With MNCs on the march in India and rivals like Cognizant snapping at Wipro's heels, his biggest challenge may just be around the corner.

- Rahul Sachitanand

Kate Robertson, Chairman, Euro RSCG UK

You're Only as Young
KATE ROBERTSON, Chairman of the UK advertising agency Euro RSCG and Co-founder of One Young World forum, was in Delhi recently to launch the One Young World's India chapter. Billed as the 'Young Davos', the forum drew over 800 youngsters from 100 countries to London earlier this year. They got to interact with - and suggest solutions on various issues plaguing the world - former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others. "The hoo-haa has been necessary. Do you know of any international association that highlights the youth," asks Robertson, who will turn 55 shortly.

- Shamni Pande

Sudarshan Maiya, Proprietor, Maiyas, Bangalore

It was a childhood dream for SUDARSHAN MAIYA, 27, to take over MTR Foods, which his father Sadanand Maiya had built. But Maiya Senior was keen on his son leveraging his degree in Computer Science. One fine morning in early 2007, Sadanand sold off his business. Sudarshan was disappointed but firm. He soon registered 'Maiyas' as the name of the restaurant he proposed to open. Today, the five-floor vegetarian restaurant, which serves multiple Indian cuisine, has turned out to be a landmark in south Bangalore.

- K.R. Balasubramanyam

Swarup Choudhury, Senior Partner, Amrop

Searching for Passion
SWARUP CHOUDHURY, Head of IBM's Global Financial Services for Growth Markets Worldwide until recently, has moved to Amrop, a leading global executive search firm, as a Senior Partner. Unconventional moves are not new to Choudhury, 51, who was handpicked by Brian Goldthorpe, the former Deputy Chairman of Midland Bank, to navigate through the crisis after the collapse of Bank of Credit and Commerce International, or BCCI, in early 1991. On his return to India from the assignment in the United Kingdom, he helped in strengthening HSBC's Merchant Banking business. He also launched a technology-based critical facet that helped the bank to provide superior transaction banking services. Says Choudhury: "For the moment, my passion is building next generation leaders and I now have a platform."

- Saumya Bhattacharya

Basel, Switzerland

The Underdog
A typical holiday to Switzerland may not have Basel in the itinerary, but the country's least appreciated city, home to many international banking agreements (read Basel norms), has many attractions, including some two dozen museums. The old town has fine buildings like the Münster (Cathedral) and the renovated City Hall. Take time to walk along River Rhine and don't miss the Roman town Augusta Raurica, which was home to 20,000 people before being destroyed by Alemannic raiders nearly 1,800 years ago.

- N.Madhavan

Gmail Priority Inbox

Saving E-mail, Again
When Google launched Gmail, it changed the paradigm of web-based e-mail by offering immense amounts of storage and a spam filter so strong, you started to miss the scam mails. However, with plenty came a problem - lots of genuine non-spam but useless mail, and buried in that pile were important e-mails from co-workers, friends and lovers, which often got lost. Gmail's latest priority e-mail feature, which is being rolled out slowly, sorts out the mails you need to read from the pile.

- Kushan Mitra

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