Tata Group patriarch Ratan Tata today said that though US President Donald Trump has thrown up some new challenges, Indian entrepreneurs and business captains have the ability to reinvent themselves to meet them. “I think the challenges for the last several months for me personally and also for startup community have been challenging. Mr Trump has given new challenges and I am quite sure we can reinvent ourselves to meet those challenges, and look back at having made a difference,” he told the gathering assembled at K-Start, a startup event organised by Kalaari Capital here.
The interaction was moderated by Kalaari’s founder Vani Kola. On issues of protectionism and capital dumping, Tata said one cannot generalise, but sometimes blocking is worthwhile and at other times, it amounts to stifling competition. “Sometimes, the blocking is worthwhile blocking, and at other times, it is just stifling competition. It is a difficult question to answer and generalise,” he said. However, he said a person like him would look for more of an open environment, “as open an environment that we can expect, and we should not be concerned about blocking as we see it at various times.”
Nevertheless, Tata advocated that unfair competition being indulged in by some corporations needs to be controlled by the regulators because they do it to kill new startups. “This (protectionism) is the dictum of yesterday. I think the regulators need to focus on areas where there is unfair competition which is done to kill the new startups, but ensure there is enough latitude and enough of level-playing field where everyone has a chance,” he said.
On issues of liquidity and exits faced by startups, Tata said he wouldn’t make any comments on it because luck, intuition and personal judgement also played a very vital role in any company’s success story. Tata said he is looking forward to reinserting himself in the startup community which gives him tremendous stimulation and hoped to contribute to this sector.
Referring indirectly to the Cyrus Mistry controversy, Tata said the last five months had forced him into the older mould, but that he longed to be back among the startup community with vigour on February 23. Tata will resume working with startups from February 23 after handing over the reins of Tata Sons to N Chandrasekaran. “I am looking forward to that day with greater vigour,” he said.