When A Chance Meeting With Ratan Tata On A Flight Changed Sanjiv Kaul’s Startup Journey

Ratan Tatavia

Ratan Tata is one of the most respected and successful industrialists of India, known for his utmost simplicity and humanity. He is also a philanthropist and a former chairman of Tata Group. He is one of the most humble human beings. Recently, Sanjiv Kaul shared a post on LinkedIn and recounted how a chance meeting with Ratan Tata on the Jet Airways flight changed his career and startup. He also wrote how Ratan Tata decided to invest in his startup back in the year 2004.


How Advinus Therapeutics Got Funding?

Sanjiv Kaul

Sanjiv Kaul started a pharmaceutical company Advinus Therapeutics over two decades ago along with two US scientists who returned to India for the opportunity. Sanjiv Kaul got the funding for the startup when he got a chance encounter with Ratan Tata on a Jet Airways flight. Recalling the incident, Sanjiv Kaul wrote in his LinkedIn post,

“The year was 2004 and I was traveling seated 2F on an evening Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi. My meeting for seeking investment for an innovative startup earlier that day with a large industrial house had not gone well and I was a bit down and out. The flight was still boarding and I was going through my PowerPoint presentation on my laptop trying to figure out what could have possibly gone wrong.”

“Suddenly there was a hush silence and I could sense a gentleman settling down on seat 2D next to me. I looked up and immediately recognized Mr. Tata. My heart skipped a beat conscious at this legendary figure sitting next to me. But soon I returned my focus on the failed PowerPoint. After take-off, meal was served and while I was shutting my laptop, my hand clumsily spilled the glass full of orange juice onto my tie and shirt. Mr. Tata immediately reached out with his napkin and helped me clean up to the extent possible. I was quite touched and thanked him profusely. But the story doesn’t end there. A few minutes later after the meal, I returned my attention to the PowerPoint and felt a deep sense of loss with tears swelling up.”


Ratan Tata Noticed His Moist Eyes

Ratan Tata

In a lengthy post, Sanjiv Kaul continued and wrote,

“Mr. Tata noticed my moist eyes and asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t help but open up to those sympathetic eyes by stating that India was about to lose top 2 scientists who wanted to create India’s first pharmaceutical R&D company. He asked me how come and I shared with him details of Advinus Therapeutics and the 2 brilliant co-founders Rashmi Barbhaiya and Kasim Mookhtiar. I concluded by saying that I was at the end of my tether as I had exhausted all options and these 2 fine scientists were all set to return to the US over the weekend in spite of my best efforts.”

“Mr. Tata tried to cheer me up and asked for my number saying that someone from the Tatas would call me soon. I politely thanked him for his kindness but didn’t think much about it. We didn’t talk much after that during the remainder of the flight. At 9 PM the same evening, I get a call from a general manager of Tatas whether I could come along with the 2 Advinus scientists the next day to Bombay House for a discussion with the senior leadership of Tatas.”


How The Things Progressed?

Sanjiv Kaul continued that how they went to Mumbai with a presentation to the Tata board and got the green light for their startup. He added,

“Rest is history, we went to Mumbai, we made a presentation to the Tata Board, and TATA Advinus was green lightest. All because one man truly believed instinctively that the 2 scientists needed to be given a break in India. The scientists stayed back for over a decade and Mr. Tata, the Patriot helped stopped the brain drain. In fact, Advinus over the decade was able to attract almost 50 more top scientists from worldwide leading research institutions into Advinus. I am not surprised that in his post-Tata phase, he has immersed himself in cutting-edge technology startups.”

Without a doubt, Ratan Tata is one of the most respected people in India. He is a winner of two civilian awards in India- Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. Ratan Tata has shown the world how hard work, determination, and resilience can bring success.

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Praneet Samaiya
the authorPraneet Samaiya
Entrepreneur, Movie Critic, Film Trade Analyst, Cricket Analyst, Content Creator