Wishing for a great Christmas gift for your business? Look beyond Santa Claus, and keep Ratan Tata in your wish-dial. However, if your business idea is worthy enough, you might even get an email from the Man himself asking for you to meet him. Ratan Tata, the erstwhile Chairman of the Tata Group has evolved as what we would like to call him: ‘The Santa Claus of Startups’. If he thinks your business has future he will invest; it won’t really matter if Tata Group has a business arm dealing in the same line – his investments in Bluestone, an online jewellery platform is a perfect example. More than investments, these startup founders are glad that they have a great mentor to go to. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm in an interview in The Economic Times said, "The mentoring he offers is invaluable for growing startups like us."
In the past two years, Ratan Tata has, in his capacity made investments in about 15 startups. The process as reported by ET is simple. “Proposals are vetted by R Venkataraman (a close associate of Tata who advises him with startup investments), before they reach Tata, who usually has two questions to ask startups seeking an investment, the risk, and the opportunity. Founders usually have 30 minutes to make a pitch and a successful one will be valued as per the last funding round,” reported ET.
Let’s look at the mentoring, and investments Ratan Tata has done in the past two years. He began with Altaeros Energies, which is a US-based high-altitude wind power developer. Founded in 2010 by MIT graduates, this company deals with clean renewable energy – something that Mr Tata loves. He invested in the company in March 2014. In Snapdeal, an online retail platform which is estimated to be more than $5 billion in valuation, Ratan Tata invested less than Rs 5 crore. This investment was made available to public only in August 2014. This was followed with investments in Bluestone, an online jewellery portal started by IIT graduates. Urban Ladder stepped up with Ratan Tata’s undisclosed contribution in November 2014. The furniture e-tailer company was formed in 2012. Low cost healthcare got Rs 2 crore Ratan Tata financial boost when the latter invested in December 2014. The startup engaged in providing affordable healthcare focussing on low-income population.
The year 2015 saw a number of investments from Ratan Tata. It started with CarDekho, an automotive portal where after Tata’s investment, the company raised about Rs 335 crore in VC funding. He went on the investment spree with Paytm in March, following withsmartphone manufacturer Xiomi in April. The online store for women’s formal wear Kaaryah received a seed-level funding from him in June. In the month of July, Ratan Tata made three investments in Lybrate, a healthcare startup, Ampere, manufacturer of electric vehicles, and Ola Cabs. To help scale up operations, Ratan Tata invested an undisclosed amount of funding in predictive marketing and analytics firm, Infinite Analytics in August. In September, he made a personal investment in Mumbai-based food startup Holachef, after it raised a seed round from Kalaari Capital. His investment is not just confined to India, as we have seen with Altaeros Energies. In October,he also invested an undisclosed sum in the the Silicon Valley-based startup, his first investment involving digital or virtual currency, Abra. It is a digital cash, peer to peer money transfer network that lets consumers deposit and withdraw cash from the Abra app anywhere in the world. In the same month, he made investment in LetsVenture, an online deal-making platform. Sabse Technologies, founded by Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail fame, received investments from him in November. Phones on this network only access the mobile network when Wi-Fi connectivity is not available. Singapore and Chennai-based data startup, Crayon Data received Ratan Tata’s investment in November. While he has closed December with an investment in Urban Clap.
Looking at the investment spree, here’s hoping he continues to motivate, influence the young bright entrepreneurs, and invest in their business ideas in the coming year as well. Is your idea worth Ratan Tata’s interest? Make that right wish to the right Santa Claus.