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The Wharton-INSEAD Duo's Epic Quest of building the BlackRock for Investments in India

Taponeel Mukherjee and Poornima Vardhan are Indexing away Indian Investment Landscape using 75,000 hours of research & 12,000 primary data points.

September 29, 2022 19:31 IST | By Sudhanva Shetty

The early 1990s - The Beginning

Taponeel Mukherjee was merrily punching the vending machine for his favourite bag of chips at The Stanford Graduate School of Business  as a little kid. Unable to reach the coin counter, as Taponeel was planning his next move, an elderly gentleman standing behind him in the queue helped him. Since that day, Taponeel befriended this gentleman, and they would bump into each other, milling around the vending machine. This elderly gentleman was Milton Friedman. Friedman wasn't the only Nobel Prize-winning economist around. As a young child, Taponeel would walk the hallowed halls of Stanford daily along with the likes of Kenneth Arrow and William Sharpe. It was only natural that Mukherjee, born to two brilliant economists - Taponeel's mother was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford, and Taponeel's father was researching with Kenneth Arrow, had a predilection for Economics.

Over 7500 km away, Poornima Vardhan was literally a high flyer in another part of the world. Born to one of India's Aviation Pioneers, famously known for building India's first low-cost carrier, Poornima spent as much time in the sky as on the ground. She got a sneak peek into the world of Boeing, Bombardier, Gulfstream and Airbus from a very early age. While growing up, every dinner table conversation was around airlines, airports and a revolutionary time in Indian skies. As Vardhan says, "When you've grown up hearing about the Indian Consumer story since you were 3, the quest for India's consumer markets is only natural".

The Investor-Operator "PhD"

Back in India after 30 odd years, Poornima and Taponeel, with a firm view of India's consumer market in sight, have built AltG. AltG delivers Research, Analysis and Intelligence that goes beyond the realm of strategy, finance and operations. Through the proprietary APEX Formula, its state-of-the-art system and framework evaluates opportunities and manages risk. Taponeel and Poornima are changing how investors access, understand and invest in Indian investment markets.

Investment Research in its current form is outdated. Taponeel likens it to the "blind men and the elephant". He says, "Research that investors access is predominantly uni-dimensional. It covers one aspect of the business." With the dynamic business environment, Investment research needs a redesign for the 21st century. This is what they have precisely built at AltG - Analysis and Research are through the multi-dimensional Investor-Operator Lens. Taponeel adds, "We provide insights, opportunities and analysis that encapsulates complex financial engineering, deep operational business understanding, in-depth primary Research and path-breaking strategy. Essentially, AltG answers the most crucial 1000 questions about an investment for you so that you don't have to".

As Vardhan adds, "Our experience across Investment Banking, running mega-scale enterprises and advising a multitude of businesses across industries has given us a unique understanding of the Indian market. As Taponeel likes to joke, we've each got a PhD in Investor-Operations".

AltG - Indexing Intellectual Capital

With a team and network of hundreds of financial analysts, field researchers, strategy experts, and industry veterans, AltG is an "analytical machine" spanning the spectrum of investment opportunities in India across public, private and PIPE opportunities to identify the best options from a risk-reward perspective.

Vardhan adds, "We abstract away the complexity of financial numbers, operational understanding of a business and on-the-ground consumer data (primary Research). If BlackRock allows you to access Indices on markets, we index the markets for you through Research and analysis that makes investment decisions for institutions faster, simpler and easier. We take a universe of hard-to-understand data and opaque information and convert it into insights that really matter."

Poornima and Taponeel are graduates of Wharton, INSEAD, The London School of Economics, Northwestern University and St Stephen's College and come with extensive Investment Banking experience across UBS and Citi on 3 different continents. They also have extensive experience operating mega-scale enterprises in India. The quality of intellect indexing away the Indian investment markets and helping clients decipher every detail that matters is of prime importance.

Expertise, Accuracy & Speed

Taponeel and Poornima emphasize AltG delivering not just expertise but delivering expertise with accuracy and speed. Poornima says, "We're talking about financial markets here, speed matters! We help our clients with insights, analysis, intelligence and Research that allows them to make decisions in hours which otherwise would have taken them months to research. In many cases, clients are limited by capacity and scale; they wouldn't be able to access the opportunities. However, with AltG, whether you're a 2-person pod-shop investing in public markets or a 2000-person private equity fund, you get access to research that allows the client to answer every question that matters to the success of the investment at the click of a button."

AltG - The Financial Fulcrum of the Indian Investment Markets

Taponeel and Poornima foresee AltG as the financial fulcrum of the Indian investment markets. Allowing a larger pool of investors access to a more extensive set of investment opportunities will be one of the biggest drivers of capital allocation to high-growth sectors that will propel Indian economic growth, jobs and prosperity. Positioning AltG as the "hub of the wheel of the Indian Investment landscape" is what Taponeel and Poornima have set their sights on.

India in the 21st Century - Connecting The Dots

From Nobel Prize-winning economists to learning the workings of a Boeing 737, it's been a fascinating journey for Taponeel Mukherjee and Poornima Vardhan. However, as they both agree, nothing beats building a business in India in the 21st century, or as they say, India's century.


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