The Pioneering Spirit Of Desmond Nazareth

By Sandhya Mendonca

With a mop of long, unruly curls, wearing shorts and often riding a scooter, Desmond Nazareth’s looks and manner belie the keen mind and millions of rupees at work in his enterprise of making India’s answer to tequila.

Way back though, this graduate from IIT Madras was a self-taught techie. He started Nazub Software, Inc., in the US, when there was the looming threat of the Y2K bug in computer systems. The company created and licensed the earliest toolkit and process to a fledgling Wipro Infotech in India, and was its business partner till 2000. He also partnered with other leading Y2K solutions experts and companies around the world. After gaining in-the-trenches experience of global IT processes and spending, and playing a small but key role in helping Indian companies like Wipro get their foot in the door of major US and international corporations, he did an unexpected about turn back to India.

Simply because he wants to explore his varied interests and spread happiness. As the founder of Agave India, he’s currently making several Indians happy with the eponymous DesmondJi brand of Agave (tequila-like) drinks. Agave India is the country’s first official micro-distillery and the first alcobev company to make high-quality Margarita blends, Agave Spirits and Orange Liqueurs using original production methods and materials (rather than simply flavouring ENA). The agro-facility and micro-distillery is located in a 44-acre plot in the Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh and the bottling and packaging unit is located in Goa.

He says, “As per my long term life planning, I ‘retired’ in 2000 and came back to India to start five major India based ventures, based on my own ideas, in non-techie areas that utilized India’s native genius and would connect it to the rest of the world. For this, I had reserved ten years of my life, and seed funding.  I had spent a good twenty years of my life studying, and working in, technology areas and wanted to feed some of my passions in the areas of international feature films and TV production, public health and public education. Agave India was a bit of a historical accident, in terms of discovery of the opportunity.”

He likens the experience in building the two companies he’s founded thus far as comparing apples and oranges. Mostly because of the very different locales (US versus India) and fields of endeavour (software products & services versus alcoholic beverages). He was effectively able to set up the US Company and get it running within less than a week, while it took him a total of four years from company registration till product-on-shelf for Agave India.

The current climate in India is conducive for carving a new path in alcobev, which was hitherto considered very corporate and impersonal, and he expects others to follow suit. “The great Indian middle-class consumer market is now much more exposed to international products and information and will be increasingly interested in trying out new beverages, especially when no compromise is made on quality and the products are affordable.”

Enquiries have already been coming in for exports even though DesmondJi has barely emerged on the Indian scene. This, he says, is a reminder of how rapidly WoM spreads via the WWW.

In keeping with his informal personal style, associates are encouraged to dress as they please but when it comes to work, he demands professionalism (keeping to deadlines and appointment timings, frequent communications and early warnings of looming troubles).

Quite a globe-trotter, he’s travelled to about 40 countries both for fun and work. He occupies his time in airports and on journeys with reading, people watching and given his convivial nature, getting into interesting conversations with fellow travellers and befriending some for life.

Unwinding includes listening to music, reading lots of world class fiction and non-fiction, or alternatively hanging out with friends, going out to eat and drink. Very easily done in his current base of Goa. Surprisingly, though he has created and made TV programmes, he personally never watches TV and prefers films. A maverick all the way!


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