aka my CV

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Name Rajiv K. Badlani
Born 11th May, 1949
Education Bachelor’s in Commerce from MS University, Vadodra (better known as MSU Baroda)
Master’s in Management from JB Institute of Management, Mumbai (Bombay)
Experience 4 years in advertising at the beginning of my career, which was so much fun that I can't figure why I ever left it. But I did so well, everyone kept giving me raises until I got a swollen head and decided I was too bright to work for anyone else. That I was going to be a colossal success on my own.

The first one was a sleepy ad agency called Grant Advertising (which I almost bought 10 years later but was pipped to the post by JWT). Nothing much happened there, Thank heavens I left. I would have become totally dull.

The most fun was a company called MCM (Mass Communication and Marketing), started by a maverick called Kersey Katrak. When it looked like this wild ship  was about to sink (the rats has started running, so I ran too. I was obviously a rat at that time, a rat with low self-esteem who didn't think what I did mattered to anyone else except me. When I think back I should have stuck with that genius. He went belly-up but I should have stuck by him. I would have learned a little more self-respect). Soon you'll find a link here offering tribute to that great guy.

I have no idea where I found the courage, but I did go into business on my own and launched and nurtured what became India’s No.1 brand of jeans. The name was Flying Machine, a name I'm proud of choosing. Even then I had this notion that I was going to build a tongue-in-cheek lifestyle brand, a brand that would encompass many products and services.

In retrospect I should have stayed in advertising. I have all the right instincts for it except perhaps the ability to network and be buddy-buddy with nincompoops and charlatans. In that respect entrepreneurship is the way to go. You can call a spade a spade. Of course you pay a big price.

But my Flying Machine period was total and unadulterated fun. I'm surprised they don't either censor or tax entrepreneurship. But its taxing when you get so emotionally involved. I was so successful we were growing at an annualized rate of 400%. In those days the Indian banking system called that overtrading under some idiotic norm called the Tandon Committee Norms. I wonder whether this bloke Tandon knows how many souls he must have destroyed.

One day, I broke. I actually cried from frustration. So I sold the brand and the company, and “retired”. I thought I made a good deal but eventually discovered that this was another stupid move. I sold it for a pittance and it took me close to 15 years to get even that pittance into my hands, bit by bit. I had sold out to get capital, which I never got.

But I was a star. My constraints were known only to me. The world thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread (why sliced bread, I wonder. What's so hot about sliced bread? Give me Brun Pau any day. For those who don't know, Brun Pau is a hard crusty bun introduced by the Iranis who run those restaurants all over Bombay, which goes phenomenally with tea, wine or Fondue and is a delight to eat by itself.). Being a star was fun. Having the media write about you, being recognised and discussed in hushed whispers wherever you go... oh man, that was fun.

Enough whining. Even the interest I earned on that pittance (at 24% per annum, this was good fun) made me so lazy that I forgot what enjoyment there was in work. I was 35 at the time. I wasted, yes, wasted 15 years of my life after that.

I got involved with a number of diverse businesses, in many cases as an informal consultant, that ranged from furniture to dot coms to real estate. For 5 years I was involved with Ogilvy & Mather in a consulting capacity wherein I set up an Identity Management division for them in my own office in Ahmedabad. It didn't quite work out as we hoped but I enjoyed it and discovered that branding and identity management comes naturally to me.

In some ways this was spectacularly successful and in some ways a total disaster. The quality of our work was readily acknowledged as being spectacular, and we made pots of money, but our location in Ahmedabad became a major impediment. It was wound up in 2000.

The uniquely Indian term time-pass best describes that period. Again for any non-Indian reading this - time-pass means a colossal waste of time.

4 years back I started Norquest Brands Private Limited in association with Sanjiv Sood, a good friend of mine. We export reusable cloth bags (See bags), with my website being our primary marketing medium. We're now serving customers across the world and have, at customer request, added a variety of products to our repertoire, which include jeans and trousers, chef's clothing, laboratory clothing and a number of other specialty products.

It is an enormously satisfying business. Particularly gratifying is the fact that Sanjiv and I have been able to discuss and agree on a series of values and principles that guide our business.

In the Indian business environment there is a cynical feeling that you can't make money honestly; that you have to cut corners and be "clever" in ways that aren't visible to others. I think we've succeeded in completely blowing that myth out of the water for everyone who comes in contact with our business.

I'm not just happy to have proved once again (after Flying Machine) that complete devotion to customer satisfaction and total transparency works like magic, but also to have a partner who has completely internalized these values and actually revels in them. I get great satisfaction from hearing Sanjiv talk to his friends about what we're achieving and how. It's wonderful to have a partner who shares the same basic values.

Another source of joy is the fact that my daughter Kaajal is involved and I am every day amazed to discover the depths she has. From evolving dedicated software to serve our changing needs to every day evolving newer ways to please our customers, she's a huge asset to the business.

In retrospect, I am grateful for all the kicks I've taken. Having to strive at this age teaches you humility, makes you think and keeps you young.

I would welcome consulting assignments. Why would I take out time from my existing business? Because shifting my mind to different problems refreshes and stimulates me.

And, frankly, I could use lots more money. Read on to see what I can do for you.

Unique strengths
  • Opportunity Mining - identifying and developing new concepts/projects/products

  • Product and corporate brand strategies.

  • Repositioning and extension of product and corporate brands.

  • Deep aesthetic, design and communication sensitivities.

  • Applying all the above for the benefit of small and micro businesses and finding creative solutions to the inevitable resource limitations. This is as much a passion as a strength.

I bring to the table
  • A unique combination of large corporate and small entrepreneurship exposure.

  • Hands-on experience of every management discipline, which gives me very broad bandwidth.

  • A creative and vividly imaginative mind.

  • A diverse and varied education.

  • The courage to use subjectivity, take risks, and be wrong.

  • Immense sensitivity to and respect for intangibles. This includes the long-term assets of brands and corporations, which are often difficult to define and articulate.

  • A very broad perspective and the ability to think on a larger horizon than most people.

  • Plenty of experience and exposure

  • A fresh, usually new and surprising perspective

Contact me
  • Office: Norquest Company, Norquest House, Udyan Marg, Mithakali, Ahmedabad 380006. Phones (+91 79) 2646 1626/2646 3331

  • Home: B-103 Goyal Terrace, Judges Bungalows Cross Roads, Bodakdev, Ahmedabad 380054. Phone: (+91 79) 2685 0226

  • Mobile phone +91 98790 01065

  • rajiv@badlani.com, rajiv@gmail.com