Ratan Tata's impactful investments in 9 start-ups

As Ratan Tata turns 86 today, here’s a curated list of 9 remarkable startups that have garnered support from Ratan Tata. Take a look!

Ratan Tata's impactful investments in 9 start-ups

Thursday December 28, 2023,

8 min Read

A man of remarkable simplicity whose legacy spans not just his decades-long stewardship of India's dynamic Tata Group but also echoes through his global philanthropic endeavours. He’s one of the biggest business tycoons India has ever seen. He is a man who needs no introduction– the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Sir Ratan Naval Tata.


This billionaire legend isn’t all about his wealth; he champions equality, believing it's the cornerstone of humanity. He led the Tata Group as a Chairman till 2012 and took the company to unprecedented heights during his 25-year chairmanship, yet remains remarkably humble. Now, Ratan ji heads the charitable trusts of the Tata Group. 


Amidst the clamour for his support and the eagerness of startup founders to glean wisdom from him, Ratan Tata views investing in startups as a profound “learning experience” that he aims to continue till his last breath.


His approach to support ventures isn't just about financial backing; it's a deeply personal commitment driven by his admiration for the mission and vision of these startups. Speaking with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory Media, Ratan Tata articulated, “I have chosen to support enterprises that seemed to attract me from a founder’s position on what the company is trying to do.”


As Ratan Tata turns 86 today, here’s a curated list of 9 remarkable startups that have garnered support from Ratan Tata. Read along! 

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons and Chairman of the Tata Trusts.

“I don't believe in taking the right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right.” 

Goodfellows

With the vision of promoting ‘inter-generational friendships,’ Goodfellows announced a significant undisclosed seed investment from Mr Tata, the esteemed Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd in 2022.


The startup is born from the concept of Shantanu Naidu, the manager of Ratan Tata's office and his startup investments. He also served as an aide to Mr. Tata’s philanthropic wing–Tata Trusts.


During the official launch in Mumbai, Mr Tata articulated poignant sentiments about loneliness and the challenges of ageing– “You don't know what it is to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship…you don't mind getting old until you get old and you find it's a difficult world." 


Naidu drew inspiration from his bond with Tata, highlighting it as a paradigm of inter-generational friendship despite their significant age gap. He emphasised Ratan Tata’s innocence, wisdom, and the art of cherishing moments.


Goodfellows acts as a bridge, connecting over 50 ‘grandpals’– individuals over 70, with ‘good fellows’ in their twenties—carefully chosen, empathetic individuals with diverse backgrounds in arts, engineering, or filmmaking. These young companions are trained to engage and assist seniors, fostering genuine connections and providing companionship thrice a week for up to four hours each visit


In its beta phase over the last six months in Mumbai, Goodfellows has worked with 20 elders and is gearing up to expand its heartfelt services to Chennai, Pune, and Bengaluru.

Ola/Ola Electric

Ratan Tata's association with Ola traces back to July 2015, five years post the company's inception in 2010, when he made a personal investment of INR 95 lakhs. Additionally, through his investment company, RNT Capital Advisors, Tata further lent his support with an investment of INR 400 crores, marking a significant endorsement of the company's vision and potential.


Four years down the line, Ratan Tata again funded Ola Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd in 2019 through an undisclosed contribution as part of its Series A funding. This investment followed his early backing of ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, the parent company of Ola.


The startup, Ola Electric, expressed confidence that Tata's involvement would leverage his profound expertise and guidance, boosting the company's ambitious goals of revolutionising electric mobility on a large scale.


Ola, renowned as India's pioneering cab aggregator service and one of the esteemed 'unicorn' startups valued at $5 billion, offers a user-friendly app enabling smartphone taxi bookings at competitive rates. Its services span diverse price segments, catering from economy to luxury travel experiences, with its new addition of electric vehicles.

Paytm 

Ratan Tata's investment in Paytm began in March 2015, as part of a funding round for One97 Communications, the parent company behind the renowned digital payments platform. This investment not only marked his financial support but also secured him a pivotal role as a strategic business advisor on One97 Communications' board.


Originally established as a mobile recharge platform, Paytm evolved into a multifaceted online marketplace spanning various categories. It garnered recognition as India's first payment bank post receiving approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).


Today, Paytm stands as one of the foremost digital payment companies, boasting a vast subscriber base. Its success surged notably during India's demonetisation in November 2016, solidifying its position in the market. Presently, the company's gross merchandise value (GMV) exceeds $1 billion, attesting to its significant market presence and growth.

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Snapdeal

Ratan Tata forayed into the e-commerce landscape with his investment in Snapdeal in August 2014. Reports suggest he secured a 0.17 per cent stake in Snapdeal, making an initial investment of less than Rs 5 crore. Tata's strategic investment in Snapdeal coincided with Flipkart's acquisition of Myntra, prompting his acquisition of 256 shares from the e-commerce platform's angel investors.


Snapdeal, launched by Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal in February 2010, stands as India's pioneering online marketplace, boasting a diverse array of products across 800+ categories from over 1,25,000 regional, national, and international brands and retailers. Notably, it has garnered support and investments from giants like eBay and Alibaba.


Tata's timely investment not only safeguarded Snapdeal's market presence but also played a role in preserving a competitive landscape within the e-commerce sector, preventing potential monopolisation attempts by other major players.

CarDekho

CarDekho, a premier auto search platform in the country, revolutionises the car-buying experience by enabling online purchases. Ratan Tata's investment in GirnarSoft, the parent company of CarDekho, BikeDekho, and PriceDekho portals, remains undisclosed yet pivotal.


The CarDekho app boasts a wealth of automotive content, including expert reviews, price comparisons, detailed specifications, and visual insights into various car brands and models available in India.


Facilitating vehicle purchases, CarDekho collaborates with a vast network, engaging with over 4000 car dealers, multiple automobile manufacturers, and numerous financial institutions. Notably, the CarDekho portal contributes significantly, accounting for approximately 30% of the annual sales of automobile manufacturers, affirming its substantial influence in the industry.

Ratan Tata is surely never wrong with his decisions. 

Cure.fit

Cure.fit stands as a pioneering health and fitness startup, with a substantial $170 million in funding from esteemed investors like Kalaari Capital, Accel Partners, Chiratae Ventures, and Ratan Tata.


Distinguished for its multifaceted approach to wellness, Cure.fit operates various segments, including fitness centres branded as ‘Cult.fit’, a food delivery platform ‘Eat.fit’, a network of healthcare clinics ‘Care.fit’, and the latest addition, an online mental-wellness platform named ‘Mind.fit.’


This comprehensive ecosystem addresses diverse aspects of well-being, encompassing nutrition, physical fitness, healthcare, and mental wellness, positioning Cure.fit as a leader in holistic health solutions.

Zivame

Founded in 2011 by Richa Kar and Kapil Karekar, Zivame, an online lingerie startup, also secured funding from the adept industrialist, Ratan Tata.


In September 2015, Zivame received an investment from Ratan Tata, although specific details regarding the funding were undisclosed. Subsequently, reports indicated the intention to allocate these funds toward technological advancements and building their customer base.


Renowned for its unconventional and engaging marketing campaigns, Zivame swiftly garnered attention, evolving into a recognised and trusted lingerie brand.

Lenskart

Founded in 2010 by Peyush Bansal and Amit Chaudhary in Faridabad, Lenskart is a renowned online retailer specialising in eyewear. This startup received funding from Ratan Tata in April 2016, although the exact amount remains undisclosed. 


Interestingly, Lenskart officials emphasised that Tata's involvement extended beyond mere financial investment, portraying his role as more of a mentor and advisor within the company.


Lenskart swiftly expanded its presence, opening doors across 70+ cities in India with multiple outlets. The company offers a comprehensive range of eyewear, including sunglasses, eyeglasses, contact lenses, and various accessories, earning trust through precision-driven lens manufacturing facilitated by robots, ensuring minimal margin for human error.


Lenskart's commitment to innovation and growth was further demonstrated in May 2016 when it raised a significant Series D round of investment amounting to ₹400 crores. This round of funding involved participation from World Bank arm IFC, Ratan Tata, and Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, highlighting a robust investor portfolio backing the company's vision and expansion.

YourStory

Yes, you heard it right! YourStory stands as the first media organisation to secure a respectable amount of funding from Ratan Tata.


The impact of Ratan Tata's investments isn't just measured in financial terms; it's about fostering potential startups to establish the footing in their respective sectors. Thus, having a leader, entrepreneur, and investor of Ratan Tata's calibre undoubtedly signifies a promising future for the Indian startup ecosystem.

 

Wishing the old, wise, entrepreneur, the Happiest Birthday!