It is very normal to be nervous when you are meeting a big personality, right? Snapdeal's Kunal Bahl experienced the same when he met Ratan Tata for the first time for investment talks. Find out how his first meeting with Tata went.
Kunal Bahl co-founded the e-commerce platform Snapdeal in February 2010 when he was just 26 years old.
Sometime around 2014, he got a call on his way to work and the voice on the other side said, “Someone wants to talk to you about potentially investing in your company”. Bahl asked about the potential investor but the voice said, “I cannot tell you the name, are you interested or not?” and he replied "yes!".
It was a very generic question and what Bahl did was absolutely normal. After all which entrepreneur says no to a potential investment.
A few conversations later, Bahl got a hint that it was Ratan Tata and he caught the next flight and reached Mumbai.
"My first meeting with Mr Tata, I was so nervous. I just didn’t know what to expect. I remember, I was walking up towards his office and I saw him standing in his office. It is like you are meeting someone you have seen over the years, seen on TV, seen in newspapers, never thought you would meet in flesh and blood, let alone shake hands with," Bahl said in a candid conversation at TiECON Mumbai 2016.Bahl had an image in mind about big traditional businessmen in India who sit on big chairs behind big tables and visitors, who come to meet, are somewhere on the other side of the table.
In fact, before meeting Tata, Bahl watched his every YouTube video to prepare himself for the big day and also to reduce the nervousness.
"Contrary to what we all think about big traditional businessmen in India, Mr Tata pulled a chair and came and sat next to me and asked me a question 'Your growth story is amazing, how do you do logistics?'," recollected Bahl.
The startup-founder confidently answered most of the business-related questions but there was one place he floundered.
"The question I was most nervous asking that day was can we take a selfie?" quipped Bahl.
"I remember, I think there was – to my dismay a fraction of a second pause because I know Mr Tata has probably asked this question every day, 20 times a day, can I take a selfie with you and I think he is probably conditioned to take a pause and decide whether he should say yes or no and he instantly said yes."
Bahl said the picture was probably one of the most memorable photographs he has had in his lifetime.
"I remember, I showed it to my mom and she was like okay, you seem to be on the right track now."
First Published: IST