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Avnish Bajaj is the co-founder and Managing Director at Matrix Partners – a Venture Investing firm, a firm that he set up around 11 years back. He did this at the back of a successful exit from Baazee.com when he sold it to eBay for around USD 55 Million. In his own words, he has been a serial brand collector before he took the plunge and started eBay. He is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, Harvard Business School, Apple Computers, McKinsey & Co. and Goldman Sachs. 

In our conversation, we spoke about the various transition points in his journey till date and discuss how he thought about some of those forks in the road. He talks about what his views on what it takes to succeed as a Venture Investor. We also talk about his views on entrepreneurship given his experiences as an investor and an entrepreneur in his previous innings.

This conversation was published around May 2017.

Goldman Sachs versus McKinsey

High performing B School students often get courted by the top jobs in the market and often several people having to choose between Banking and Consulting. Avnish talks about how he made the decision to join Goldman Sachs after interning at McKinsey.

Starting Baazee.com

Cross-border transitions are always hard and often involve multiple variables. Avnish talks about the context in which he took the plunge from a lucrative career with Goldman Sachs to return to India with nothing concrete in hand.

Entrepreneurial Resilience

There is a lot of literature around how entrepreneurs should demonstrate resilience when hit with failure or tough times. Avnish talks about the role of preparedness in navigating choppy waters.

Taking stock of life after Bazee sale

When Avnish started Baazee, his financial goal was to make USD 2 Million. When he sold Baazee to Ebay for USD 55 Million, he had made close to 10x of his estimate. He talks about how he took stock of life and moved forward from that point.

Venture Investing – Supporting without intruding

As an entrepreneur who has built a business, how do you engage with an entrepreneur when you are an investor. Avnish talks about walking the tight rope of providing input while holding back as appropriate.

Misconceptions around Venture Investing

Avnish talks about the realities of VC investing as a profession and debunks some of the common myths around a "cushy lifestyle" that some people associate with the profession.

Sharpening investing skills

In Venture Investing, several years can pass before you realize the returns on your initial investment. Avnish talks about how investors can create a feedback loop in the interim and learn from the journey without having to wait for that long.

Evolving as a leader

Leading a start-up through all the change and complexity can be quite a challenge. Avnish talks about how he grew as a leader when he was at Baazee and shares some insights on how entrepreneurs could scale up with the organization.

Backing the best founders

Success of a Venture Investing firm is inexorably tied to the fortunes of the investors they back. Avnish talks about the science and art of how they pick investors and engage with them to drive value.

Harsh realities of Entrepreneurship

  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. Avnish talks about how the need for resilience is intellectually understood but not fully internalized till events happen. He talks about how entrepreneurs could build that capability. He also talks about how he has been influenced by Rudyard Kipling's poem IF. 

What they don't teach you at HBS

  A good education provides a strong starting point at best. Avnish talks about how he has evolved over time through the various experiences he has had and the decisions he has made.

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