Flying In Virtual Skies

Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
I have a bug inside me, smiles Vishal Anand. And before you frown at the mention of a bug, he assures you its a healthy one. For the 32-year-old entrepreneur, the bug has done some great things.

He has not only survived, but also flourished even during the dotcom burst. In two years, his Mahamaza Ecomm Ltd has notched up a revenue of Rs 80 crore. Mahamaza Ecomm Ltd is a blend of online and offline shopping and has tie-ups with major companies like Nokia, Hero Honda, Samsung and Benetton, to name a few.

Of course, starting his dotcom was just one of the many things that the young entrepreneur has done. Since he was born in Pilani, getting into BITS Pilani was the usual aspiration. Explains he, Since both my parents are from BITS Pilani, getting into Pilani was only natural. In fact, he took his Class 12 examination a second time to get into BITS Pilani.

The days at BITS, he tells you, were out of this world. Thankfully it wasnt just studies. I guess that approach to excel in everything we didbe it studies or just a projectreally helped.

After completing his engineering from the prestigious institute, Mr Anand decided to give a try to what has remained his biggest unfulfilled dreamgetting into the air force. He did clear the CDS examination but didnt make it through the physical test. Of course, its my height, he confesses. I make up for it by watching all the Tom Cruise movies. Theres not a single air force movie that I havent seen. In fact Im even watching Sara Aakash, a serial that revolves around the air force, says he.

It was time to move and Mr Anand joined the forex division of Thomas Cook Ltd in 1993. A postgraduate diploma in treasury and forex management from ICFAI, Hyderabad, only helped him to understand the market better. Forex at that time was still a very new thing and I was lucky to learn so much so soon. In fact, there were times when I felt I was a little ahead of times. A year later he moved to LKP Merchant Financing. Three and a half years into the job, the maverick in Mr Anand was willing to try new things. After a short stint in advertising, Mr Anand found an alluring IT offer in Dubai. Working under someone, however, doesnt come easy and Mr Anand was back in India with his wife after a year and a half in Dubai.

India in 2000, he says, was ready for his idea. It was the same year, Mr Anand started his Ecomm Mahamaza. With an initial investment of Rs 8 lakh, Mr Anand knew he was putting all his money at stake. And wasnt he scared of a failure Explains he, Our business plan was simple. It was a blend of offline and online shopping for consumers and secondly, I realised the importance a good deal has for a personbe it buying or selling. Since consumers gets a chance to strike the best deals and a person who registers with us gets commission on his sales, it is a very simple plan as much on the ground as much on the net. And as far as failure is concerned, Mr Anand explains it simply, Thankfully for me, I had the stamp of BITS Pilani, so a job would never be difficult, I knew. And as far as Mahamaza was concerned, I had to make it succeed. I didnt wanted to work under anyone. Of course, there was money at stake, he chuckles.

Of the dotcom bust, he says, See there was no bubble. We had just overhyped an industry and what happened had to. It had to come to its real position.

And what does the young man do when he is not working I read. There is not a single book of John Grishams that I havent read. Of course now I am spending whatever time I have with my eight-month-old daughter.

But work does take up a very big chunk of his day. Today with four offices in Delhi, Pune, Lucknow and Dehradoon and more than 2,50,000 web-store owners, things are only looking bright for this young man. Hes taken off, so what if its different skies.