Back in 2007, Webchutney raised its first round of institutional financing from Capital18, the private equity (PE) arm of Network18. Apart from funding Webchutney’s growth, we had plans of incubating a couple of ventures, including an ad network, ground up.

Around that time, Sarbvir Singh, managing director of Capital18, had incidentally met a bunch of bright young boys who were raising a small round to pivot their start-up, which was originally into solving access to local information using SMS-based search to a mobile ad network.

Singh was keen on investing in them rather than do this ground up. I wasn’t interested at all. The iPhone hadn’t launched and the regular mobile internet ad inventory (WAP back then) was way too small to be at the core of a start-up idea. Or so I thought.

Without even meeting the founders, I let the opportunity pass.

We launched our own ad network. And in about six months, that ailing start-up, MKhoj, went on to raise $15 million from marque investors such as Sherpalo and KPCB, and rebranded as inMobi. Subsequently, they went onto raise $200 million from SoftBank.

While we didn’t do too bad either, selling our ad network successfully to a subsidiary of Bertelsmann a few years later, I would be lying if I was to suggest the difference in the equity we held in our ad network versus what we could have owned was over a $100 million. Live and learn!

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