Near Bankruptcy Taught Me a Life lesson, and Now Here I am, Says this Indo-American Entrepreneur
Reggie Aggarwal had two career options in sight when he graduated from an US school, either to become an engineer or a doctor, after his parents' wishes.
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A large number of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are choosing India when it comes to start their entrepreneurships and the reasons are not far to seek. Cost-effective manpower and resources and numerous untapped areas are presenting the country as a popular business destination to them with the lure of lucrative opportunities.
Born in the US of Indian parents, who were keen on inculcating Indian traditional values in their son, Reggie Aggarwal had two career options in sight when he graduated from an US school, either to become an engineer or a doctor, after his parents' wishes. But, instead, Washington-based Aggarwal went on to become a litigation lawyer and an enterprising entrepreneur.
While speaking to the Entrepreneur India, the founder and Global CEO of Cvent, Reggie talked about the force that drove him to start business in India and the challenges he faced throughout his journey.
"Initially, we came to India for cost-effectiveness and we saw value and now we are here for innovation to help and dominate the global market," he asserted.
Starting from an event registration and management company, Cvent in Mclean Va, which Aggarwal launched in 1999, to facing slowdown and bankruptcy — Aggarwal has tasted success and failure. But, he has bounced back steadily to emerge as an event, travel and technology leader.
While working in a law firm, Aggarwal had a colleague, the 'founder of a MicroStrategy', who later became his friend. Together, they worked on an idea to create a platform that can bring CEOs of various Indian companies together.
Thus, Cvent was born out of their tireless efforts to organize meetings for the Indian CEO High Tech Council, Aggarwal's networking group.
"We were exploring cost-effective measures. We came to India in 2000 and first approached an outsourced vendor. We decided not to outsource services, but build ourselves in order to earn large profits," he recalled.
A staunch believer of the philosophy, "necessity is the mother of invention', Aggarwal told the Entrepreneur India that he did not have to raise money for a decade to start their business.
"We started getting popular speakers like US senators, congressmen and organizing these kinds of events became simple. I also got an email from National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) chairman. We have analyzed varied things, including the differences in the markets in India and the US and also the growth structures. While working in both the markets, we have realized that the need of events industry in the US is much more than that in India," Aggarwal said.
"How Did We Do It?'
Initially, it was very difficult in India. I started sending 100 people from India to the US. Every year it was like 100 and 120 back and forth. We invested on quality people, evaluating them on the basis of their nature of job. There are very few product companies in Delhi. Initially, we had to struggle in terms of leadership. We were successful as we had committed executives to take care of the work. The first few years in India were tough and we were almost on the verge of shutting down the business. It's not just bureaucracy, the infrastructure also wasn't good at that time. But now, many muti-national companies (MNCs) have evolved.
"Indian v/s American Workforce'
Cvent has 16-17 offices in countries like Singapore, Australia, US, London, Boston, Philadelphia. We have 2,500 employees in our company, of which 40% are Indians. Ninety-five per cent companies fail after starting off and they fail because it's very hard to get people in India.
There are a lot of things that the country needs to do to improve the workforce. The quality of workforce is one of them.
Cvent Signs MoU with NASSCOM Foundation
Lately, Cvent was bought by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners LLC for a whopping $1.65 billion in 2016. On asking why the company was sold, Aggarwal replied, "Once you get going, things get going. We didn't think it was enough. I wasn't looking to sell the company at all. But later thought that selling would provide a significant premium for Cvent stockholders. My board supported me and we sold the company."
Recently, Cvent signed an MoU with National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) Foundation to provide technology job training to underserved youth in India, 40 per cent of whom will be women.
(Interview by Aashika Jain)