Ratan Tata to return to startups 'with greater vigour'; may have already invested in YourStory

Tata Group patriarch Ratan Tata has said that said he is looking forward to reinserting himself in the startup community which gives him tremendous stimulation.

Tata will resume working with startups from 23 February after handing over the reins of Tata Sons to N Chandrasekaran. "I am looking forward to that day with greater vigour," he said.

His comments assume significance as he has been out of the startup scene of late. Referring indirectly to the Cyrus Mistry controversy, Tata said the last five months had forced him into the older mould, but that he longed to be back among the startup community.

Ratan Tata. Image: News18.com

Ratan Tata. Image: News18.com

He was speaking at K-Start, a startup event organised by Kalaari Capital here.

On issues of liquidity and exits faced by startups, Tata said he wouldn't make any comments on it because luck, intuition and personal judgement also played a very vital role in any company's success story.

Ever since his retirement in 2012, Tata has been aggressively investing in Indian startups through his private investment vehicle, RNT Associates. The fund tied up with the University of California's Office of the Regents (UC Investments).

Over the last few years, Tata has invested in more than 30 companies, including Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, CarDekho, Paytm, Kaaryah, Blue Stone, First Cry and DogSpot.

Meanwhile, a report (paywall) on The-Ken.com, a website that covers developments in technology, startups, business, science and healthcare, today said the $150 million RNT Associates-UC Investments fund has made its first investment of Rs 9 crore in YourStory, a media company that covers startups and entrepreneurs.

This will be Tata's second investment in YourStory. He had invested in the company earlier in August 2015.

On Donald Trump

Commenting on US President Donald Trump, Tata said the situation has thrown up some new challenges. However, he said Indian entrepreneurs and business captains have the ability to reinvent themselves to meet them.

"I think the challenges for the last several months for me personally and also for startup community have been challenging. Mr Trump has given new challenges and I am quite sure we can reinvent ourselves to meet those challenges, and look back at having made a difference," he said.

The interaction was moderated by Kalaari's founder Vani Kola.

On issues of protectionism and capital dumping, Tata said one cannot generalise, but sometimes blocking is worthwhile and at other times, it amounts to stifling competition.

"Sometimes, the blocking is worthwhile blocking, and at other times, it is just stifling competition. It is a difficult question to answer and generalise," he said.

However, he said a person like him would look for more of an open environment, "as open an environment that we can expect, and we should not be concerned about blocking as we see it at various times."

Nevertheless, Tata advocated that unfair competition being indulged in by some corporations needs to be controlled by the regulators because they do it to kill new startups.

"This (protectionism) is the dictum of yesterday. I think the regulators need to focus on areas where there is unfair competition which is done to kill the new startups, but ensure there is enough latitude and enough of level-playing field where everyone has a chance," he said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2017 12:28:32 IST