Ratan Tata, a prominent Indian industrialist, has been a pillar of the Indian business environment. The 84-year-old is not just a business tycoon leading one of the biggest companies in the world. He is also a contributor, innovative, and a humble soul who has inspired millions of lives. And one such person is Sanjiv Kaul who thinks the same.
The Mumbai to Delhi Jet Airways flight
Sanjiv Kaul who is a partner at ‘ChrysCapital’ recently shared how the chairman of Tata Trusts helped him set up his startup. For the businessman, a chance meeting with Ratan Tata on a Jet Airways flight changed the course of his career. In a LinkedIn post, Kaul narrated the story of how Ratan Tata decided to invest in his startup back in 2004.
Two decades ago, Kaul began a pharmaceutical company, Advinus Therapeutics, with two US scientists who returned to India for the opportunity. The pharma firm was encouraged by the Tata Group, but the story behind this is unexplored to many.
The year was 2004 when Kaul was traveling on a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi. “The year was 2004 and I was traveling seated 2F on an evening Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi,” Kaul wrote in his LinkedIn post. Kaul states that he was busy examining a PowerPoint presentation, trying to figure out what went wrong, when a hushed silence fell over the plane. “I could sense a gentleman settling down on seat 2D next to me. I looked up and immediately recognized Mr. Tata,” he wrote.
Aware of sitting next to a business tycoon, Kaul was diverted by thoughts of his failed meeting. “I returned my attention to the PowerPoint and felt a deep sense of loss with tears swelling up,” he wrote.
Ratan Tata noticed his distress and asked him what was wrong. Sanjiv Kaul says he couldn’t help opening up to Tata and told him that his failure to secure funding could mean that “India was about to lose two top scientists” who wanted to create the country’s first pharmaceutical research and development company.
As he concluded saying that he was at the end of his rope as he had drained all options and these 2 fine scientists were all set to return to the US over the weekend in spite of his best efforts. Tata tried to cheer him up by promising that someone from the Tata Group would call him.
Kaul then politely thanked the Tata Group chairman for his empathy but did not really expect a call from his company.
The call that changed his life
On the same evening, Kaul received a phone call from a general manager of Tatas who asked if he and the two scientists could come to Bombay House for a meeting the next day.
“At 9 pm the same evening, I get a call from a general manager of Tatas whether I could come along with the 2 Advinus scientists the next day to Bombay House for a discussion with the senior leadership of Tatas.
Rest is history, we went to Mumbai, we made a presentation to the Tata Board and TATA Advinus was the green lightest.”
“All because one man truly believed instinctively that the 2 scientists needed to be given a break in India. The scientists stayed back for over a decade and Mr. Tata, the Patriot helped stopped the brain drain. In fact, Advinus over the decade was able to attract almost 50 more top scientists from worldwide leading research institutions into Advinus. I am not surprised that in his post-Tata phase, he has immersed himself in cutting-edge technology startups,” wrote Sanjiv Kaul.