An extremely savvy investor and an equally astute marketer, Romi Mahajan has invested in a number of niche and interesting companies. Dataquest caught up with Romi Mahajan, to understand the science and art behind his investing
What do you see when you invest in a company?
This stems from my own inadequacies when I first see a company. Even though I might get exposed to a cool company and get excited, it often takes me time to really see the brilliance, which for me is hidden under the surface. Take GAEMS, ostensibly a leading video-game console-portability company. It has taken me months to realize that GAEMS is really a design company that has happened to apply its design IP to gaming. Take Limefy, a company that is ostensibly in event-tech. In reality, it’s much more- Limefy is actually a wearables company in which the first instantiation is event-networking. And take Advaiya Solutions, a company I have known for a long time. At first blush, it is a development and marketing company but upon closer inspection I realize it’s a business technology strategy firm.
Can you tell us about a bit about any new developments?
The last few months have been incredibly interesting. I have added a few new companies to my advisory portfolio and continue to nurture relationships with others. I am incredibly excited about GAEMS, Limefy, and Advaiya Solutions, all companies I have grown to have a new appreciation of, even in the last few months.
How do you choose companies to get involved with?
My calculus is not particularly profound. I like companies whose founders I like and trust and who are ambitious without being greedy. I also like founders who are, frankly, nice to people around them. Further, the technologies, products, and solutions should be intuitive and applicable in more than one instance. As for the rest, its gut-feel and other amorphous concepts. I simply don’t believe there is a lot of a priori knowledge one can have around a company’s potential. Then again I’m no seer, just a decent marketing mind with a trustworthy network.
Can you tell us more about what you think about the market here in India?
There are folks far more knowledgeable about India than I am. I have some positions in India now. Advaiya Solutions which I mentioned before is an Udaipur-based company that I believe has a ton of promise. I advise them. I have an equity stake in a very cool company called Tripoto, which is fundamentally about the joys of travel, sharing, and community. And a few others which I can’t disclose right now. That said, if you really want an informed opinion, I know of no better source than Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal, a dear friend and a mentor for many, including me (despite my advanced age!)
And what of your interest in content, which you have talked to us about many times?
I still think we are missing the boat in content marketing. I lament the state of journalism, authorship, and the role of the Editor. I lament the race to the bottom that has become content. I just hope India doesn’t go the path the US did, commoditizing content and being indifferent to quality.
So what is the thread that ties all of what you say above together?
I think there are two threads- one that companies that I work with all complement each other; two, that attendance to value, quality, and innovation shorn of the rhetoric and nonsensical verbiage that pollutes so much of the technology industry.