Fiona Tankard Lister talks to BEV’s client, Indian businessman Arvind Singal
Arvind Singhal is an Indian entrepreneur who is as passionate about people as he is about finding and growing new ideas into thriving businesses. He is certainly experienced in spotting opportunities, having worked for 25 years developing and growing Swedish companies in South Asia, followed by five years of setting up and mentoring start-ups in India and working on consulting assignments with BCG and Accenture. What drives him? “I love any good idea,” he says. “There’s nothing better than taking something forward and making it sustainable year after year. I am passionate about creating value for everybody, customers, employees, suppliers…”
Not all the possibilities that Arvind considers come to fruition. “I’ve looked at about 45 ideas over the last seven years but only about 10 or 12 have been worth pursuing.” Even when he thinks something is full of potential, it has to work for everybody. “If I’m interested but the other parties aren’t then I will stop working on it.” Or he may decide to pull out because “I realize that something just isn’t that good an idea.” He says that he uses both heart and head when considering a project, “but to be honest, it’s not 50:50. It’s probably 60:40, head to heart. I work with numbers and the numbers are important. But,” he adds with a smile, “so is the team and the competence of the team.”
Arvind is involved in investing in industrial technologies for businesses connected with the production of sugar, including the New Delhi-based Dhampur Sugar Company. He is also the Managing Director of DETS, another New Delhi company which produces driers to reduce the moisture content in bagasse, the fibrous material which remains after sugar cane has been crushed to extract the juice and which is used as a biofuel and in building materials manufacture. “I am constantly on the lookout for good industrial technologies connected with sugar,” he explains. “There’s a lot of water involved in sugar plants, they use equipment very similar to cooling towers.” This explains why he was at the Watec Israel 2017 conference and exhibition last September.
Watec stands for Water Technology and Environmental Control and the industry’s leading movers and shakers are all present at the annual event. This is where Arvind finally met Ben Radomski of BEV in person, having done business with him in the past. “We had a very nice meeting. We had lots in common because Ben was born in Sweden and I have worked with Swedish companies in India for years.” Ben understood Arvind’s objectives and wasted no time in introducing him to a BEV client Ilan Sosnovitch, Marketing and Business Development Director of Israeli water treatment company UET, who has been featured in a previous case study.
“Ben provided immense value,” says Arvind. “He immediately saw how our two companies could work together. In November, he brought the owner of UET, David Sherzer, to India for a two-day visit. We placed an order for a pilot plant, which has already been shipped from Israel and is in the process of being set up - it will be up and running by March - and we have now signed a joint venture agreement.”
This dynamic Indian businessman’s connection with BEV does not stop with UET. There are several ventures in the offing, resulting from introductions made by Ben during a short visit Arvind made to Milan in early January 2018. “Ben is helping me look at the viability of transferring technology from Italy to India for many, many different applications,” he says.
Arvind discloses that Ben is also involved in representing him in talks with a Swedish company which make centrifugal machinery for sugar processing. “Ben will pursue and discuss things with them and look at the value of transferring the technology. The idea with all of the agreements is to transfer the manufacture of these technologies to India and then go on to sell the equipment in India too.”
Although Arvind is a frequent visitor to Europe it is his first time in Milan. “It’s a really nice place,” he enthuses, “I very much enjoy coming to Europe, I must have been here 30 or 40 times.” He is equally positive about his dealings with BEV. “I like the way BEV is so efficient and competent, they work quickly and get things done. It is all extremely professional. They also have a really good strong network of contacts that they know how to use.”
How does this square with his project selection process and the fact that he only goes forward with about a quarter of the ideas he receives? His 60-percent-pragmatic answer is, “It all depends how it goes. As with everything, I need to eat and digest!” But then the 40-percent-people person takes over. “Although I’m a numbers man, I do rely on instinct and gut feeling too. I usually get a strong impression after I meet people, discuss with them and start to understand them. Ben is a very, very nice person, a real friend and a real human. He is very dedicated and passionate too. I hope to have an ongoing relationship with him and with BEV.”