Serial entrepreneur Rohit Anand on the joy of building large companies

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Rohit Anand, Founder, 1DigitalStack speaks about entrepreneurship in the dot com era, going from building services to product company, and the joy of scaling business.
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Rohit Anand’s first tryst with entrepreneurship was at his home in Delhi, seeing and helping his mother run a business when he was a child. After more than a decade, an MBA degree and several years of corporate experience at Ranbaxy, he took the plunge to build a women's community portal with revenue purely based on advertising. 

Then came the dot com crash, funding dried up, and Rohit had to shut shop and begin again. This was in the year 2000.

But the entrepreneurial bug was well alive and Rohit entered the pharma analytics space by founding Value Edge in 2008.

A services business, the company did everything from competitive intelligence, forecasting, data analytics as well as cloud based intelligence. 

“At the time of exit, we had a couple of million dollar plus clients and about 150 people working from our offices in the US, Europe, Frankfurt, and Switzerland,” he said, in a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100x Entrepreneur.

Having not seen a lot of exit in those times, Rohit recalled Value Edge’s $20 million exit to Grant Thornton and said, “If you think fundraising is highly energetic and takes a lot and very demanding, then an exit is at least three times…Never ever do it (exit) unless you’re absolutely certain about it.”

Second innings

Rohit was 47 years old when he had made a successful exit and wanted to go after bigger problems but build a company rather than deal in services before winding up on ecommerce. Noting that more and more brands were hopping on marketplaces, Rohit jumped at the opportunity to provide intelligence and insights of their performances on these platforms.

“It was very clear, long before the pandemic that Amazon and other marketplaces were taking off market after market, country after country.”

So he understood that anybody using a combination of technology and data science to draw actionable insights to help brands accelerate their growth on these marketplaces could tap huge opportunities.

In November 2019, he formally incorporated 1DigitalStack to build intelligence commerce products.

It has now grown into a 40-people company, serving 24 clients including the likes of HP, Nestle, Philips, Glanbia nutritionals, Havas media – 25 percent of which are international clients.

However, unlike the established companies, mid-market and D2C clients did not find their product necessary. 

“They frankly told us that we don’t have a need, we don’t even have the internal capability to absorb these insights and make sense of them. Because we don’t have the analytical horsepower. All we need is someone to actually run the campaign for us in an efficient manner… I think the acceleration will be far, far more rapid from now on,” he said.

In the next 18 months, the entrepreneur hopes to build $3 million in ARR (annual recurring revenue).

Rohit believes the company’s media optimisation product, Reviniti, launched in January, can play a big role. Moving forward, it also hopes to tap a lucrative opportunity in Singapore and the APAC region.

Between both Rohit and his Co-Founder Tarun Singh, the vision was clear from the beginning: to build a large company.

“There is a joy in building a large company that impacts a lot of clients, a lot of brands, a lot of people and we really wanted to do that…When you go after the problem, you are going to devote 10 years of your life to it,” he said. 

To know more, listen to the podcast here:

02:12 – Starting his first entrepreneurial venture in 1999

06:34 – “Importance of going after a problem where you have a natural advantage.”

11:39 – What did Value Edge work upon? 

12:57 – Value Edge’s ARR at the time of Exit

13:39 – Thought process behind the Exit

18:46 – Process of identifying the right M&A Advisor and the help an entrepreneur can expect

24:00 – Maintaining balance during the stress while acquisition

28:57 – Deciding to start 1digitalstack.ai

32:31 – Current scale in terms of ARR & top clients

35:17 – Taking investor money during his 2nd entrepreneurial stint

38:10 – Future plans for 1digitalstack.ai (in terms of ARR & Growth drivers)

42:15 – Vision and Ambition of building a large company

46:19 – Current practices: Same & Distinct from Value Edge

50:32 – His approach towards investing

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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