India: Ratan Tata has a message for young startups, entrepreneurs

Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, speaks during the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit 2011 (VGGIS) at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, turned angel investor, has invested in over two dozen startups, including furniture e-tailer Urban Ladder, digital payments app Paytm, ride-hailing company Ola and its electric vehicle arm Ola Electric Mobility. For the Tata Group patriarch, the one thing which has definitely worked well in his favour while investing in startups is his intuition. Ratan Tata had a few suggestions for young startups, entrepreneurs and investors.

Invest in intuition

As Ratan Tata himself puts it, his inner voice has worked way better than numbers-crunching. “I found in my case that company selection was more by intuition rather than numbers, and by judging on the intent of the founders and their seriousness more than any other factor,” Tata said, explaining the reasons why he chose to invest in certain projects.

For Ratan Tata, the most essential trait for any entrepreneur is to ‘have a fire in the belly to find an area that is not explored’. An entrepreneur must find an opportunity to make a difference. Not only a good and exciting start, but entrepreneurs should also have courage and tenacity to see the fat lady sing. As an advice for entrepreneurs, the octogenarian says “the drive to start something new, the fire in the belly, a better way to do something that is being done or a good opportunity to undertake all to make a difference… and above all the courage and tenacity to see it through, be it good or bad, and yet make it happen are the hallmarks I look forward in entrepreneurs.”

It was hard for Ratan Tata to invest while being at the helm of things at the Bombay House but thing took a got a bit exciting post retirement. “When I retired I was free from it and I started making small token investments from my own pocket in what I considered to be exciting companies. So, what I did was to take some more risks than I might have taken under different circumstances. With two-three years into this, it became a learning experience, as this sector is very active and have the best minds,” said Tata who was quick to note that “contrary to common belief my pocket is not so deep.”

Enjoy the journey

Anticipating the exciting times ahead due to the ‘problem solving’ nature of the surfacing startups, Tata would like to see his presence grow in the startup sector. “The excitement of being in new areas, participating in something that has not been done is the most exciting and absorbing thing. This is something I am looking forward to in the coming years,” says Tata.

“I am glad the startup space is growing and becoming so prominent. Now more and more big companies will recognise that there is another way to do something and that something might be the better way to do cheaper and most cost-effective way,” Ratan Tata says.

Be optimistic at heart

Ratan Tata has no major issue with the large cash-burn that startups report month-on-month, saying they are here to stay indicating venture seed capital funds are the way forward.

“Look at other countries, startups have been there for much longer. It goes without saying that this sector will grow and it already has proven to be the case. It will continue to do that in the coming years,” he is confident.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.