Title: Currency Colony
Author: Natarajan Elangovan
Price: Rs 150
Hit by jobless growth and massive retrenchment, millions of Indians joining the workforce every year have few options in terms of safe and secure jobs. So, what is the solution?
‘Entrepreneurship’, says Dr Natarajan Elangovan, a man who wears many hats as a qualified veterinarian who plunged into business despite repeatedly discouraged by his family.
Even as he serves pet animals, Elangovan continues to pursue his two other passions—journalism and business. With a turnover of over Rs 40 crore from his business ventures, Elangovan has authored his first English book, Currency Colony, which cracks the code of entrepreneurship in India, through a great mix of stories, analyses and practical tips about.
Unlike many books in the market, this one is simple to read and does not focus on success alone. Instead, it explores how 15 entrepreneurs across various sectors faced hardships and challenges before they came to be known as successful business tycoons.
Born into a conservative lower middle class household, no opportunity was left by his parents to drive home the fact that education and subsequent employment alone can ensure success, recalls the 49-year-old Elangovan, whose successful ventures are Dream Serve Networks Pvt Ltd, Iris Life Solutions Pvt Ltd and Timo Eva Wellness Pvt Ltd. While the first one is a media company, the other two cater to pets and human cosmetics.
The book begins with the author’s three failed daring attempts at entrepreneurship, with his family first cajoling him to take up a professional course; then pushing him to gain experience and finally stopping him by citing how the planetary positions in his horoscope were not conducive for any startup, and that there was risk of losing hard-earned capital!
In stark contrast, Elangovan points out how families in many communities in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra lay the foundation for entrepreneurship. These are the families that went on to set up some of India’s biggest business houses.
Each one of the 15 chapters focuses on a business tycoon who has built his empire from scratch. The book is not about their success, but more about their struggles and how they rose above all odds to carve out a niche for themselves.
Besides focussing on individual business magnates, the book also draws inspiration from the 5000dabbawalas of Mumbai who deliver two lakh lunch boxes every day to workplaces and return them home again.
The book begins with a chapter on Raghav Bahl, who was the founder and former owner of CNN-IBN. Describing the trials and triumphs of this media mogul, Elangovan cites perseverance as the reason for his success.
This is followed by a write up on Jaswanti Jamnadas Popat of Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. Way back in 1959, she had led a group of seven women in her neighbourhood, which grew into a Rs 315 crore empire by2002.
Among other names that inspire are Sunil Mittal, who became India’s telecom czar to fuel the mobile revolution in the country, and Kishore Biyani of Big Bazaar, who brought about a paradigm shift in the way Indians shopped for groceries.
Then there is an extraordinary tale of how Anu Aga Indian billionaire businesswoman shaped by personal family tragedies and courage turned around Thermax, an energy and environment engineering business, as its chairperson from 1996 to 2004.
With more than 100 employees in his ventures today, Elangovan himself went through trials and tribulations. He too fell back on biographies to keep going and remain motivated.
The book comes at a time when India is at the cusp of realizing its entreprenurial potential—with startups taking off on easy bank loans, and domestic and global angel investors and venture capitalists scouting for innovative ideas. All these and more in the ecosystem can add wings to your dreams. The question is whether you are enterprising enough to take the plunge.
Easy to read and never too late to start, the book peppered with inspiring quotes encourages those who dream of starting on their own, and also those already in the business wanting to move to the next level.