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Saturday, August 01, 2009

A few who reached out to many

Making online buying and selling as common as talking on the phone or stepping out for groceries was something that Avnish Bajaj CEO of Baazee.com did well. His is a story dreams are made of. An Indian Institute of Technology-Harvard graduate with a stint at Goldman Sachs, a dotcom survivor with a $50 million deal under his belt. He is the man behind one of India's biggest online success stories -baazee.com.

The baazee.com story began in 2000, when Bajaj along with his Harvard mate Suvir Sujan set up India's largest online auction portal. Along the way they bought out competitor bidorbuyindia.com and in 2004 global giant eBay came calling.

But the dream run suddenly turned into a nightmare, when Bajaj found himself caught in the middle of the infamous MMS scandal and ended up in Tihar jail. The MMS clip brought notoriety to the site for allowing it to be put online for sale. But Bajaj had support coming from various quarters, including high profile Condoleezza Rice weighing in on his behalf. After all the noise and show, Bajaj was released on bail and is trying to move on and put this episode behind him.

Now, being part of the global Internet giant - ebay's family, baazee.com is being used as a platform to drive growth in a market with immense potential. With a subscriber base of 1 crore (10 million) users, baazee is betting on what it sees as the second Internet wave in the Indian market. With competitors jumping into the online auction space, this market leader is constantly innovating to stay ahead

He is a perfect power-dressing corporate honcho and that may give the impression that he doesn't seem the adventure sports type. But bungee jumping, scuba diving and river rafting are what he indulges in when he's not warming up with a good book, which is his first love. When he gets tired of driving baazee.com to greater heights, he hopes to move on to direct public policy.

Another career that's hot right now with a lot of outgoing, peppy youngsters who want to groove to good music at work and snap out some great lines over a microphone and get paid for it! Well, there VJs and DJs but RJs are having fun too.

Radio jockeys at 92.5 FM Tarana Raj Kapoor and Ashish Jagtiani have Mumbai eating out of their hands. Well not literally, but they are burning up Mumbai's airwaves and winning quite a fan base for themselves.

With completely contrasting styles, the one thing that Ashish and Tarana have in common is their ability to talk, unscripted, unrehearsed and unleashed on the city of Mumbai, every weekday morning.

It isn't only her voice that's her fortune. Tarana has an equally successful TV career in serials like Kasauti Zindagi Ki and Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa and also hosts live events and TV shows.

Ashish does more than mesmerise on air and also works in the family's machine tools business. The money he's making now with his two different careers is being used to fuel his other passion - to be a serious art collector.

Both are good friends even off air and one of their common interests is their love for reading. But while Tarana may pick up a Shashi Tharoor, Ashish would head towards the management books section. But that's just what makes for great chemistry on air.

Written for moneycontrol.com

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