More Than Just an Entrepreneur: Tata’s Origin Story
“With honest and straightforward business principles, close and careful attention to details and the ability to take advantage of favourable opportunities and circumstances, there is a scope for success.” —Jamsetji Tata. True to his words, Tata tried to live by such principles in his life and built a business empire that stands strong generations later. Let’s delve into the extraordinary story of Jamsetji Tata.
🌱 The Roots
Jamsetji Tata was born on March 3, 1839, in Navsari, Gujarat. He started working with his father in Bombay ever since he was 14, due to his interest in business. Tata graduated from Elphinstone College, where he became passionate about academics and reading. In 1868, with all of the knowledge and experience he had gained by working alongside his father, he started a trading company with a capital of ₹21,000.
Then, in 1869, he purchased a bankrupt oil mill in Chinchpokli and converted it into a cotton mill, which he sold for a profit in just 2 years. Later, he travelled abroad to various countries to learn more about cotton production. He figured that India had an abundance of coal and fertile land—all the elements needed to build a successful cotton empire.
🏭 Laying the Foundations
Tata faced some issues before setting up his own cotton plant, such as old methods of production, outdated machinery and unskilled labourers. He battled these issues and worked his way out by setting up a high-end factory, with the aim of providing world-class cotton to the country.
Earlier, everyone’s first preference for setting up a cotton business was Bombay, but Tata chose Nagpur. This provided its own share of benefits, such as facilitation to a railway junction, access to raw materials and proper supply of coal and water. He commenced Empress Mills and invested a capital of ₹1.5 lakhs. He equipped it with the best quality machinery, which is now recognised as one of his most significant achievements.
Tata put his heart and soul into working towards his goal of setting up a steel plant so that it could compete against any other in the world. Sadly, eight years before the first ingot of steel was rolled out of the plant in 1912, Jamsetji Tata passed away. His son Dorab and cousin RD Tata worked together to make his dream possible.
🏨 The Crown Jewel
Once, Tata was denied entry into a hotel just because he was an Indian. He then decided to build the most luxurious hotel anyone could ever find in India, with American fans, Turkish baths, English butlers and any other facility one could wish for. This hotel is now famously known as The Taj Hotel.
🫂 Selfless Through and Through
Tata was a true philanthropist who paved the way for many brilliant minds in India. He set up institutes and helped Indian students pursue higher studies in England. He donated so much that today, the value of his donations, after adjusting for inflation, stands at a staggering $102 billion. Jamsetji Tata was the greatest businessman to work for the people and will forever be remembered for the legacy he left behind.