When I received the invitation for this function, the first thing that struck me was the unique work that this institution is doing. I was impressed. Besides, my visit to Ahmedabad was long overdue. And a lot has happened in relation to Gujarat, since I accepted this invitation. So this invitation indeed proved lucky for me.
The stars of today's evening are the graduating students and with them I would like to sharethe pains and gains of my last 25 years of entrepreneurial career.
Gujarat is the fountainhead of entrepreneurship and the place where I hail from, i.e. Ludhiana is also very much alike. Ludhiana is a reservoir of entrepreneurs, so to say. When I decided to enter the world of business, in Ludhiana, practically everyone was into the bicycle business here and so it was bicycle for me as well. With a small investment of Rs. 20,000 and with a good friend as partner, I ventured into bicycle parts manufacturing in the year 1976. Let me tell you that the first 2 - 3 years were tough. But I knew I had to be moving ahead and so in 1979 I left for Bombay and got into import of a variety of products to be used in the country. Money then had a lot of value.
From here, I saw an opportunity in import of portable generators - an opportunity which I eyed upon during one of my visits abroad. We became the largest importers of portable generators and remained at this position for 3 years, until one fine day the government banned the import of portable generators.
I was again in search of an opportunity. At this point in time, I was certain about one thing, which was that whichever product I take up, it had to be new and innovative; something that none had taken up before. And around this time during one of my visits to Taiwan, I chanced upon push button telephones. I immediately knew this would work because it was a purely new idea for India then. We started importing push button telephone sets. First wave of liberalisation came in the form of manufacture of push button telephones and every big company jumped into telecommunications. There was not a great chance to succeed but we were the first to launch push button telephones and today we are manufacturing 4 million telephone sets. We are the 3rd largest in Asia now.