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Talking With Alok Kejriwal

Talking With Alok Kejriwal

- Alok Kejriwal
Class of '85

Alok Kejriwal, 38, is a media entrepreneur having founded the contests2win.com group in India in 1998. This was among the first Web sites for contests and remains one of the most popular web properties in India. The success of c2w in India prompted him to expand overseas and he was one of India’s first Internet entrepreneurs to set up shop in China, establishing mobile2win as an interactive mobile venture. In 2006, Mr Kejriwal decided to create India’s first online gaming company Games2win.com. He has roped in venture capital from some of the leading VC firms that include ICICI Ventures, E Ventures India, Softbank China and Clearstone Venture Partners, among others. He is a self-confessed pavement pounder and likes incubating start-ups. Mr Kejriwal did his schooling from Campion School, Mumbai, and went on to do his Masters from Sydenham College, Mumbai. In his free time, he enjoys reading books on Zen philosophy, meditating and jogging. He is also passionate about Indian Modern Art and has recently begun building his personal collection.

When did you start investing and what led you to do so?
I started investing about five years back when I realised that investments such as art would return multiple returns and also given that mutual funds were a safer way of investing than directly dabbling in the stock market

What role do investments such as gold, property play in your overall portfolio?
I prefer to invest directly into mutual funds primarily since the stock market historically has given good returns but more so since the money is always liquid.

Which was your first investment, at what age and did you make money on it? Any learnings from that experience?
My first investment was an insurance policy, and I was extremely disappointed with the meagre returns I got. The learning was never to confuse insurance with investments.

When you started out as an entrepreneur, did you make any special investment plans to ensure basic financial security for yourself and your family?
Unfortunately, the entrepreneur’s entire investment goes into his or her venture and there is very little to put aside. However, for the sake of creating a ‘safety net’, I bought a ‘term life’ insurance policy for my family’s sake. At the end of the term, the insured person gets no return of money or bonus. If in the period of insurance, the person expires, the family gets the entire sum.

Any particular precautions that an entrepreneur has to take when making his investment plans, when compared to a salaried employee?
An entrepreneur receives blocks of money at different time stages (in addition to salary) and has to make sure that the money is invested, keeping in mind the philosophy of an entrepreneur (who may suddenly need a large sum to invest in a new venture). Also, the moneys must be liquid since that it is a key requirement of any entrepreneur.

Do you manage your investments directly or through portfolio managers? If you do so through the latter, are you happy with the results?
I have made my investments entirely through professional managers (investment bankers and portfolio specialists) and this is the only route I would suggest. The entrepreneur should concentrate on creating value in the enterprise — let the professionals create wealth from the surplus available outside the business.

Finally, your advice on three things that budding youngsters should/should not do when they start off.
Please concentrate on managing your finances well and with utmost caution — trust professionals to manage your money rather than attempting to do everything yourself. Finally, create return targets for yourself and book profits when those targets are achieved rather than getting greedy.