Industry: Venture capital
Company: NB Ventures
Designation: Managing Director
Success seems to be a habit for Neelesh Bhatnagar. He arrived in Dubai from New Delhi in 1986 to work with Xerox, and also had stints with Inchcape Shipping Services, MMI and TNT, but it wasn’t until he took up a role with retail giants Landmark Group – and in particular their nascent operation in Saudi Arabia – that his business drive and ambition finally found an accommodating home. An assignment that began in 1997 was so successful that it remains one of the largest retail groups in the kingdom 20 years later.
In 2005, he moved to Dubai to help the Landmark Group launch its consumer electronics retail brand Emax – a challenging and competitive field in which Landmark had no exposure but one that personally interested Neelesh. It was a move that, he says, he attributes to the vision of his boss, Micky Jagtiani, whose flexibility and openness to new ideas is something he has always tried to impart to his own teams.
After 19 years with Landmark, he then decided to forge his own path and launch NB Ventures, a venture capital fund to invest in Indian and Middle Eastern start-ups. The vision, he says, is to invest in Indian companies which can then be brought to Dubai and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The objective is to be an active investor and use Neelesh’s 30 years of management and leadership experience to mentor young entrepreneurs in India. In 2016, for instance, he invested $1m in tech company HealthifyMe.
Neelesh is also director of Foundation Holdings, an investment company focusing on healthcare, education
and consumer products.
You should have a passion for what you do. There’s no point buying or manufacturing something unless you feel it will make a real difference in your customers’ life