Sridhar Rajaram - Building businesses the Upaghna way
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Name of the Company: UpaghnaVentures.com
What can Upaghna Ventures do for you: Business transformation and unlock future value.
Quote to watch out for: “Happiness comes after a lot of risk taking”
Recommeded Author: P G Wodehouse.
There is a reason why Sridhar Rajaram is in the business of transformation. He has a keen interest in
sieving through the details of any company which is looking towards staying relevant in the future, but,
does not know how to get there. As the founder of Upaghna Ventures he has spent the last three years
helping founders from companies such as InstaPure, Adukale, Namdhari’s Retail and BollyWoo.
Over the last two decades he has worked with the likes of Royal Challengers Bangalore, TTK Prestige,
Louis Phillipe and has seen India’s brand and consumption story evolve in to the digital era. Here are the
excerpts of the interview:
Vishal Krishna: Sridhar, welcome to UpStreamLife, can you tell us about Upaghna Ventures and what
Sridhar Rajaram: We work with companies at different phases of their journey. Essentially they can be
of any size and at any scale. There comes a time for any business to move to the next level and making
that shift to the next level makes it very difficult for them. The reason why they may not be able to make
that shift is because they lack execution capabilities, the value systems and also the speed at which they
are able to make the change. This is where we step in, design and execute these models. The aim, for
Upaghna, is to help the founders unlock the value in the market and build scale to their existing
VK: Talk about your journey – why are you fascinated with transformation?
SR: There is no definite reason as to why you do something. But let me give you a reason. The post
COVID-19 world has shown us that many businesses want to go through a transformation and they do
not have the skill-set to do so. Adding new revenue streams to existing business can be difficult. In many
cases several businesses and brands have a lot of value to unlock. The push for change can happen when
there is a management upheaval and when there is a generational shift in the family. Most family
businesses are aware of their next big growth opportunity. Unfortunately their support system is the
consulting ecosystem, which really may not be the right for the family. We help organizations look at
hyper growth and create new businesses by taking them to market faster.
Much of my journey fell in place by default. The whole Upaghna journey happened because a large
family business reached out to us to unlock value in their retailing business. We transformed their retail
business by design and captured the narrative of their produce of being fresh because they were also a
farm to fork company. The whole retail business was structured around a international feeling and was
much more accessible to customers.
We integrated their entire business functions to the new business and approach. We defined the future
of their retail business and how it would look.
VK: What have you learned from your journey as a ex-cricketer?
SR: There was a significant learning when I played sport. There are multiple facets of the game that you
learn from – just by managing the team. You learn so much with a competitive spirit around you. A lot of
us take risks in sport and you believe that you can make it. There is a discipline and preparation for it.
Yes, many of us then move away from that journey when we figure out that the dream is over. The
dream moves on to something else. Sport is a good teacher because an entrepreneurial journey is like
playing a sport. You want to make it and play for your country or the State.
VK: Your tips to D2C brands?
SR: The enablers that are required to get to a stage where the data starts making sense is as critical as
executing the business. There are three simple parts. The first one is how do you do a Direct to
Consumer business or D2C business – which means which technology are you using to build an
ecommerce platform. Then there are questions like are you going to build subscription, membership or
a supply chain platform.
After this it is about consumers – things like digital marketing, social media and content creation and
distribution to acquire new customers. The last piece is the last mile delivery, which is the heart of every
business today. The significant cost of D2C business is in last mile delivery, which includes the cost to
you pay to warehousing, picking and packing.
Most businesses go to large platforms that solve this puzzle. However at scale you are going to pay
commissions to these third party ecommerce platforms and it will difficult to move away from them. So
if one builds a D2C business they need to look at these issues and try to build efficiencies from day one
on the stack. Ultimately everything is about how they use data to grow their business. Upaghna
optimizes the entire business at scale.
VK: How do you unwind?
SR: I read a lot of books and believe me I also ran a library business called Just Books. I love to read P G
Wodehouse and Calvin & Hobbes. Happiness comes after a lot of risk taking, take those risks at the right