Here’s an unusual story of a post-retirement career.
Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the sprawling industrial conglomerate Tata Sons, retired in 2012. But the well-regarded executive, who remains chairman emeritus at Tata Sons, has been very active in India’s fledgeling start-up ecosystem, making small investments in growing companies across sectors. Since making in first investment in early 2014, he has invested in 21 start-ups till date. The quantum of his investments are undisclosed, but are known in the industry to be relatively small amounts. They are valued more for the value of having Mr Tata’s stamp of approval, and for the mentorship and networks a start-up is able to tap into under his tutelage. Mr Tata’s portfolio contains ventures from e-commerce to fashion and from healthcare to smartphones. Here is the list of all the investments he made.
First he invested into a US-based wind energy start-up called Altaeros. The windmill venture which was spun out of MIT was backed by Ratan Tata in March 2014.
In August 2014, he made his first investment in India. He put an undisclosed amount of money in the e-commerce start-up SnapDeal.
He put his foot into an entirely new vertical of online jewellery. Online e-tailer Bluestone was invested into by him in the month of September 2014.
Next up was the online furniture curator Urban Ladder. He put an undisclosed amount of money into the start-up which was launched in 2012 and had more than 1,000 products in its portfolio.
The Tata group is involved with a lot of philanthropy. So it was not surprising when he invested Rs2 crore in Swasth Bharat in December 2014. Swasth Bharat is a venture which helps in providing medical care for the poor.
In February 2015, he ventured into one of his favourite business domains throughout his career–automotive. Tata Motors was the company that received a lot of attention from him. Its acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover happened under him, too. An undisclosed amount of money was put into the online car comparing and selling portal Cardekho by him.
The next month saw him backing two finance start-ups. First up PayTM, which was already a prominent name in India in payment, recharge, and e-commerce sector. Second was Grameen Captial’s debt fund for social ventures.
Xiaomi was already a big name in India by April 2015. Ratan Tata made it more prestigious by becoming the first Indian who bought a small stake in the company.
June 2015 was the time when he decided to back a formal women’s wear portal named Karyaah. Again, the funding amount was undisclosed.
The Food was his next target vertical. Holachef, a Mumbai-based company founded by IITians, which delivers food made by home chefs in the city was backed by him in September 2015.
In August 2015, he joined hands with an analytics firm called Infinite Analytics.
Financial tech seemed to attract Ratan Tata as well. Abra, a bitcoin company was his next to make an entry on his portfolio of investments in October 2015.
In November 2015, he made a double investment a Big Data start-up Crayon and Sabeer Bhatia’s communication company Sabse technologies.
As a personal portfolio, this must count as among the most impressive in the country. And it sure keeps Mr Tata busy. Now if only we could find out the exits he is managing.