During my interview with Captain Gopinath, I asked him, “Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever met?” Without batting an eyelid he said, “Sir Richard Branson.” He told me to pick up his book, Simply Fly, and read about his meeting with the founder of Virgin Group, a conglomerate of over 400 companies.
Gopinath met Branson in Oxford, UK when he was looking to raise money for Air Deccan. They discussed about Gopinath’s vision to make air travel more affordable and also reach tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India. According to Gopinath, Virgin Atlantic, the airline company owned by Branson, was interested in investing in Air Deccan but he couldn’t make it happen as government regulations prevented foreign investments in the aviation space. Gopinath recalls, Branson had a huge fan following in the UK and as they walked out of the restaurant they were dining in, several people came running towards Branson. Gopinath says, “It was certainly a meeting to remember” and he is amazed by the adventurous spirit and entrepreneurial journey of Branson.
This question I posed to Gopinath got me thinking. Thanks to my job, I meet several interesting entrepreneurs and senior management professionals on a fairly regular basis. After almost every meeting, there’s something new – a strategy or working style or a new idea – that I come across that can be incorporated into the magazine business. But I couldn’t pinpoint on any one meeting that was the most exciting. From Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri I learnt that entrepreneurs have to be patient and make the venture work over a sustained period of time. From Mohandas Pai of Infosys I learnt the art of people management. Vinod Dham of Indo-US Venture Partners gave me a first-hand perspective of Silicon Valley and the role of innovation in entrepreneurship. The most exciting learning from Captain Gopinath’s meeting was this quote: “Once you have a vision to create something, don’t go to several people to get this vision validated. You are seeing the potential for something, go out there and create it.”
In this editon’s cover story, the primary focus is on how Gopinath went about launching Deccan 360. His dream is to revolutionize the logistics sector in India, and for that he’s working towards creating an unprecedented network across the country stitching together air cargo and ground transportation. Once he identified the need for an express logistics company, the next step was to identify the “key drivers” to make this venture work. Once the key drivers and strategy were in place, Gopinath turned his focus towards execution to roll out and expand services at breakneck pace. Gopinath’s entrepreneurial journey is loaded with lessons for entrepreneurs and professionals and I would strongly recommend reading his book Simply Fly to get to know the man better.
Hope you have fun reading this edition of The Smart CEO. And, maybe, get inspired and go start up.