Gaurav Mirchandani ’04
While many freshmen earn spending cash by flipping burgers or selling clothes, Gaurav Mirchandani ’04 started a business providing high-end Web design and technology solutions to e-commerce companies. Although he eventually closed up shop to focus on school, the accounting major hoped one day to own his own business again.
So it’s not surprising that, less than three years after graduation, Mirchandani launched a new initiative, a small but promising venture capital firm based in New York and India, the home of the world’s fastest-growing economy.
“I have been an entrepreneur from the start,” he explains.
After graduation, Mirchandani worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he noticed rapid economic growth in India, the country of his birth. After leaving PWC at the end of 2006, he traveled to the South Asian country to study market conditions and meet with industry professionals.
When he returned to the U.S., Mirchandani raised almost $1 million from private investors and formed Maxa Group
to invest in young Indian companies with long-term, high-growth potential. Today, with committed capital of nearly $7 million, he has formally started a seed fund called the Maxa Emerging India Opportunity Fund.
Maxa Group invests relatively small amounts of money, ranging from $250,000 to $750,000, in businesses in the earliest stages of development. The firm then supports its clients by developing and reviewing strategies, entering new markets, recruiting senior team leaders, instilling corporate governance, establishing new business alliances, providing accounting and finance support, and more.
“Our goal is to work with entrepreneurs in India to start new businesses or expand their current business models that add value to the booming consumer market in India,” Mirchandani says. “While there are exceptional early-stage investment opportunities in India, success requires a long-term, value-added, disciplined investment strategy, where the fund can work with entrepreneurs and management teams to create leading companies in a broad range of areas.”
Mirchandani has benefited from Lehigh’s strong alumni network and its accessible faculty and administration, he says. When considering whether to launch Maxa Group, Mirchandani consulted his Business 1 teacher, Karen Collins, associate professor of accounting, who advised him to “go for it,” she says. “Mirchandani is an exceptional student with strong interpersonal and communication skills that allow him to maintain connections between people. He is independent and willing to follow a dream.”
Sarat Sethi ’92, a member of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees, serves on Mirchandani’s advisory board. He has known Mirchandani’s family for more than 20 years and mentors the entrepreneur.
“He’s a great person and a great leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, which I think is fantastic,” Sethi says. “I think Maxa Group provides a great platform for him to showcase his talents, which will allow him to expand and grow.”
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Spring 2008 issue