Musavir Wani / EMIRATES BUSINESS
Gaurav Aidasani is a second generation entrepreneur. He has extensive experience working across various new-age technologies. Known for successful execution, his name is well-respected in the corridors of Internet, digital marketing, web-technologies, digital media buying, ecommerce and advertising.
Aidasani started his entrepreneurial journey in 2006 and was awarded with the young entrepreneur award. He is candid about his entrepreneurial ventures which include the ups-downs and loves meeting new entrepreneurs and helping them grow. His other passions include supporting his favourite sports teams (cricket, soccer, NBA, NFL) and spending quality time with his family and friends. Mostly known as a workaholic, Gaurav lives by the motto ‘the harder you work the luckier you get’ and can be credited with creating several hundred jobs and multi-million dollar companies.
Gaurav has an honorary degree in Bachelor of Science from the Babson College of Massachusetts. He has majored in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Economics. Gaurav’s ability to help entrepreneurs reach their optimal potential made him a proud member of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation of UAE. Here are excerpts from an
interview with him:
How did you start your stint as an Angel investor? When and how did your journey start?
My journey started when I was asked by an international eLearning firm to setup an outsourcing unit in India. Within a year the parent company had to liquidate and I was presented with an opportunity to buy/mould this team that i had built over a year into a self-sufficient unit. We were about 7 people then and today the team is about 40 people in our India office with over 80 people globally. We moved our headquarters to Dubai and there’s been no looking back since.
Whilst building these companies, we realized there is a lack of investment at the early stage in this region and there are qualified entrepreneurs who are unable to access capital – this is where opportunities kept coming to us.
UAE is a competitive market. How did you make a mark in this industry in the UAE?
I believe all businesses are about stakeholders. If you can provide an incredible service, rarely do you see your clients leave. If you keep enhancing the team’s skill sets, they will progress with you. It’s all about finding your niche. In a competitive market like the UAE it’s the momentum that can bring success into your entrepreneurial life.
What are some of the best ventures you’ve been involved into?
I would say most of the investments we’ve made have been worthwhile. Digital media, eCommerce, online advertising and digital publishing have definitely been exciting. We are a B2B firm and Nail the Deal was our only B2C venture. Though it was a new venture, the learning was incredible. The way the market is shaping up, I am positive that e-commerce has a positive future in the region.
What is your business mantra?
Stick to what you’re good at. Know your niche. Persevere. Over the years, I’ve learnt that simplicity is the key to success and we make it a point to follow this principle across all our dealings.
What is Cosmos Group? When was it established? What are the core service areas of Cosmos Group?
Cosmos Group is an angel investment firm launched in 2008 with a diversified portfolio of investments in digital media, eCommerce, online advertising and digital publishing.
We provide comprehensive support to the budding community of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the Middle East region. One of our recent exits – Nail the Deal – was one of the largest and oldest daily deal website. Yazle Media is a leader in providing digital media and marketing services – we represent products in video, mobile, native, performance and also represent the world’s largest real time bidding platform through which users can buy inventory of more than 60,000 websites globally. We believe in ground breaking/disruptive technology.
How do you see Cosmos Group growing in the region in the next 5 years?
Cosmos Group has always focused on helping businesses succeed. With online advertising & digital media growing at a rapid pace, we would be at the forefront of innovation in these industries.
Why did you decide to exit Nail the Deal
Our priorities are to stick to what we’re good at – We are a B2B business, Nail the Deal is a B2C business. The new investors have a strategic plan for the firm and were a good cultural fit for Nail the Deal. They not only have the relevant experience but also a growth strategy and investment plan that will position Nail the Deal to increase its digital presence and grow exponentially.
Share some important developments/facts related to the deal.
Nail the Deal was a strategic investment for us. The deal structures a 100 percent buyout by the investors in cash. Our investors were able to enjoy over a 300 percent return on their investment with Nail the Deal which is remarkable.
How and when do you evaluate to invest / exit a particular line of business?
The key things we look at are – the team, the market size/opportunity and the business model/current business.
How do you see the future of e-commerce industry in the region?
The e-commerce market in the region is experiencing an exponential growth. Though there is tremendous growth, the profitability will take a few years. We do expect further M&A activity in this space.
What are your future plans? Any piece of advice you would like to give to the new startups/angel investors?
As a group, our strategy is to invest heavily in the digital marketing/media industry. In the coming years, we will expand our services not only in the region, but also globally. Being part of Entrepreneurs Organization chapter in Dubai has helped maintain a healthy work-life-self balance.
An honest advice to startups would be ‘Find out what your strengths are and persevere.’ Also, ‘work hard, play hard’.