Ratan Tata’s ideas and approach on Startup investment

Ratan Tata with JRD Tata,
Image source- tata.com

Ratan Naval Tata is an Indian industrialist, investor, philanthropist, former chairman of Tata Sons, and a well-known successful startup investor. Ratan Tata 81 years old, born on 28 December 1937.

After finishing school education in India, he went to the United States in 1955 to complete graduation and took a degree in architecture and structural engineering in 1962 from Cornell University, New York, USA.

Ratan Tata began his professional journey in 1962, with the Tata group. On March 25, 1991, Ratan Tata took command from JRD Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons, and Chairman of the Tata Trusts.

The revenue grew over 40 times, and profit grew over 50 times of the group companies during his tenure of 21 years as Chairman of Tata Group. Ratan Tata remains chairman of group up to 2014.

Ratan Tata was awarded the highest civilian awards of India Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and Padma Bhushan in 2000. He is well known for humanitarianism and integrity in the Indian business world.

He made Tata group global by acquiring global companies, like Tata Tea to acquire Tetley, Tata Motors to acquire Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Steel to acquire Corus. Indian IT giant TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) is India’s second-largest company by market cap, the first Indian IT company to reach $100 billion market capitalization.

Ratan Tata an Accidental Startup Investor

Ratan Tata said in his latest interview with Chiratae Ventures Chairman Sudhir Sethi, that “I am an accidental startup investor.” Ratan Tata started investment in startups after leaving the post of Chairman of Tata Sons in 2014.

He also mentioned that he was interested in Startups as a choice of the sector to invest, but due to conflict of interest with Tata Group, he was somehow away from the sector.

At present, Ratan Tata is in limelight because of his valuable contribution to the Indian startups, from mentoring to funding. Ratan Tata is an early-stage startup investor in many top Indian startups, from payment app PayTm to healthtech Fitness startup CureFit. He invested in Indian startups as on his personal capacity and by the UC-RNT- a fund where his family office partners with the University of California, to invest in technology-enabled businesses.

Ratan Tata’s Key investment ideas and approaches as a startup investor

Now, he is investing with his own personal capacity in selected Indian startups. The main aim of the investment is not a financial gain, but to mentor and provide sector-specific advice, and working as an advisor to StartUps.

Some key points from his interviews

  • Ratan Tata relies on his intuition when he comes to the choice to invest in the startups.
  • Ratan Tata said in interviews that the founders’ attitude and maturity help him decide how much and in which startup to invest.
  • Ratan Tata found himself as an accidental investor in the startups.
  • Not good or bad times for startups to go global, but this depend on the founder when to do it.
  • Big companies are now focusing on another way to do business like startups.
  • All Indians are entrepreneurs at heart, and what we need is an opportunity to flourish the startup ideas.
  • Ratan Tata thinks that the best minds in the Indian startup sector and he also taken more risk, and get learning experiences in the first 2 to 3 years.
  • Ratan Tata is observing significant growth potential for the startups in India.
  • Ratan Tata revealed that healthcare, medical treatment opportunities, online, and manufacturing attracted his attention, and innovative technology will boost these sectors.
  • India has great potential for the entrepreneur to do more in the startup sector.
  • Ratan Tata thinks that to do something and that something might be a better way to do a cheaper and most cost-effective way.

Ratan Tata’s top investments in startups

One97 Communications: One97 is a mobile-internet company founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma that owns PayTm. Ratan Tata backs One97 from 2015 with his personal capacity, and his role is as an advisor of the startup.

Snapdeal: Snapdeal is India’s largest eCommerce marketplace founded by Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal in 2010. Ratan Tata invested in Snapdeal in August 2014 by a venture round of funding and picked up a 0.17% stake in Snapdeal by investing less than Rs 5 crore. 

CureFit:  Ratan Tata invested $3 million (Rs 19.2 crore) in Series A round of funding in Bengaluru-based Health Tech Startup CureFit in May 2017,  the startup founded in 2016 by Ankit Nagori and Mukesh Bansal. The investment made via UC-RNT Fund, a joint venture between Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates and the University of California. 

UrbanLadder: Ratan Tata invested in online furniture mart UrbanLadder in November 2014, this investment is his personal investment in the startup founded by Ashish Goel and Rajiv Srivatsa in July 2012.

ClimaCell: Ratan Tata is a Seed investor in the Weather forecasts startup ClimaCell, the investment made in September 2016 through Tata Trusts. ClimaCell forecasts location-specific, low-altitude, and short-term weather. The Boston-based startup raised a total of $75 million from 13 investors in 6 rounds of funding. 

CarDekho: Ratan Tata invested in his personal capacity in Jaipur-based GirnarSoft in 2015, GirnarSoft which owns and operates CarDekho.com, BikeDekho.com, and PriceDekho.com. Ratan tata’s expertise in the auto sector strengthens the CarDekho startup business growth story. GirnarSoft raised a total of $68.6M in funding from 4 funding rounds. 

 Lenskart: Ratan Tata invested in eyewear online retailer in April 2016, and he becomes part of the Board of directors in the startup. Lenskart is India’s leading online shopping portal for eyewear. Lenskart has raised a total of $184.6 million in 8 rounds of funding from 11 investors. 

NestAway: Ratan Tata also invested in home rental startup NestAway, an undisclosed amount in February 2016. NestAway has a total of $109.1 million in 8 rounds of funding from 9 investors. Home rental startups present in 15 main cities of India.

Dogspot: Ratan Tata, along with Ronnie Screwvala, invested an undisclosed amount in online pet care platform Dogspot. Dogspot is an online community for dog owners to interact, buy pets, supplies, and merchandise. DogSpot.in, owned by PetsGlam Services Private Limited and managed by Rana Atheya, Shalesh Visen, and Gaurav Malik.

Tork Motors: Ratan Tata former chairman of Tata Sons, the latest investment in Electric Mobility startup Tork Motors, a Pune-based company earlier raised funds from Bharat Forge and Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder, Ola cabs. The Tork T6X is India’s first electric performance motorcycle. Ratan Tata feels that industry is changing with destructive technology, and team Tork Motors has good value on the sound logic and the approach to invest. 

Ratan Tata is bullish on the Indian startup ecosystem. He said in interviews that the many technology changes are coming, and all these changes will boost the startup ecosystem in many sectors. He also has confidence in the potential of Indian entrepreneurs.

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