Neelesh Bhatnagar

A Study in Venture Capitalist Success : Neelesh Bhatnagar

Table of Contents

Founder & CEO | NB Ventures

UAE-based NB Ventures has seen a meteoric rise as one of the region’s fastest-growing venture capital funding companies.

The company funds multiple new-age industries across data analytics, financial services, retail, FMCG, logistics, eCommerce, health and beauty, Ed-tech, e-logistics, holiday agencies, sustainability, health drinks and electronics.

Founded by Neelesh Bhatnagar, a visionary entrepreneur who also founded the leading electronics retail chain Emax, NB ventures has a vast footprint.

Bhatnagar runs several local Dubai-based companies. His company also collaborates with industry giants such as the India-based cloud kitchen start-up, Bigspoon.

Established in 2012, NB Ventures is a venture capital fund founded by Bhatnagar that invests family wealth into start-ups in India and the Middle East. They assist budding and enterprising companies from India in entering the Middle Eastern Market. Bhatnagar also dabbles in trading, distribution, and retail stores that are 100 per cent owned by NB Ventures.

For instance, NB Venture’s arms include local LSE businesses such as the Dubai-based restaurant chain The Yellow Chilli and Snap Fitness clubs, electronic retail shops at Dubai Duty Free. In addition, they own a distribution company called TargetOne that distributes electronics and accessories in the UAE and GCC. 

Neelesh Bhatnagar Success Story

Forging His Own Destiny

Destined or not, Bhatnagar always had the ambition to become a businessman. Having earned his chartered accountancy degree, he knew early on that he was meant for greater things.

During his career, he worked for the Landmark Group and quickly rose through the ranks to become one of its top leaders and CEO, spearheading the group’s expansion in Saudi Arabia.

Soon, however he felt his calling, and in 2012 took the leap to establish NB Ventures. It was a risky decision for him because he was well aware of the probability of failure. But he leveraged his knowledge of finance and CA, honed his skills, and set himself up as a successful businessman, driving a new economic order.

He began slowly and steadily, with prudent investments that reaped success. Then he changed track and started investing aggressively, interacting with founders, co-investors, and private equity funds.

Over 35 years in the Middle East, NB worked to establish the right platform, which today is boosting funding for Indian start-ups from HNIs and garnering visibility for these brands in the ME market.

With laser focus, Bhatnagar positioned himself within the VC ecosystem across cosmopolitan states within India and Dubai.

A Bright Outlook

Today, his years of market experience have equipped him with a sharp edge in identifying start-ups that have the potential to become unicorns. Even so, he feels that he has a lot to learn from the next generation. He is a remarkable leader who enjoys interacting with the young generation.

These interactions are governed by deep mutual respect as he mentors them in their entrepreneurial journeys, and they share their groundbreaking ideas with Bhatnagar. A proficient multitasker, handling high-value portfolios with a whopping success rate of 70 per cent. The key: Bhatnagar never stops learning.

He has tapped into all his years of experience and investments to understand different industries, from retail to supply chains and fitness and what makes each of these industries tick. These are indispensable in guiding him to make profitable predictions and sharp decisions, supported by the team at NB Ventures comprising learned and experienced business analysts guided by the force of their founder.

Drawing on lessons from his part, whether CA, retail, or VC, helps Bhatnagar constantly expand and grow his business. He finds that it is imperative to first understand the business very well and be clear about the business idea. Then, one should focus on execution with the right team and ensure sufficient cash flow through investors to penetrate the right market.

Sailing Steadily During a Crisis

A company’s failure is not necessarily due to a bad idea. Founders sometimes simply run out of funds. Sometimes, there isn’t enough money for projects to take off; at other times, finding the right investor is the biggest hurdle. Through a strong investor-partner network, NB Ventures smooth over these challenges for fledgling start-ups.

Today, he has invested in around 50 businesses over the last nine years, all of which are operating at scale. This differentiator was critical during the pandemic. Bhatnagar saw first-hand how businesses in the logistics, retail and travel space struggled to stay afloat.

NB Ventures supported these companies by infusing funds and reviving them systematically to pre-pandemic growth levels.

Despite being a risky proposition, NB Ventures persisted on this track because of its motto. In Bhatnagar’s words, “There are no shortcuts. Hard work, transparency, and integrity are what you need to succeed. With this, you will find the resilience and support you need to succeed.”

An Eye on the Future

Being exposed to fresh ideas keeps NB Ventures at the cutting edge of innovation. Bhatnagar looks forward to further adoption of digital trends brought on by the pandemic, where customer behaviour has changed dramatically. He predicts an era where online customers can experience eCommerce. e-Logistics. and e-Entertainment more realistically.

With investments in data, analytics, and technology, NB Ventures is already witnessing the emergence of omnichannel retailing, VFX movie experiences and more.

As part of this, he uses his invitation to Dubai Expo 2020 to identify upcoming talent among the 500+ start-ups expected to visit. His sharp eye watches for those that are innovating in areas of education, fintech and big data, as he knows this is the future.