Customer Comes First

Venture capitalists can be a hard – headed breed. So, it is a pleasant surprise to find Renuka Ramnath, CEO, of that spectacularly successful fund ICICI venture, behaving like a coach. “I tried to develop ICICI Venture from my heart, from Indian roots, and not just by copying a Western model. Put the entire enterprise you have invested in the centre, I told myself. When you sit on a company’s board, think about the company, not yourself, or that it is an ICICI Venture. I try to treat the company as my own child. I don’t just think of it as a money – making machine. Money is a by- product, it is not the core. I think about their stakeholders. We are not an asset shopper, we so easily could be. We look for win – win partnerships. When we make money, even the worker makes more. ACC, a fourth generation company with eleven unions said, “We are embarrassed. We don’t work for ACC anymore.” I heard them out as a family member, not like an owner.” ACC was one of India’s most respected companies. When ICICI Venture bought into it as a senior partner, the market was shocked.

We are investors, we have to do very well to grow.” She said, “Employees will also grow. Let us both do our own jobs without judgement. We generated a 400% increase pf profits in 18 months! We gave a gold coin to every worker. Workers did ‘arthi’ for us – blessed us. 5% of profits went to employees. I think of my company’s role as that of a mentor, a nurturer of better performances. We are not Atilla, The Hun. We are more like the Mughals. Not plunderers, but builders, like Akbar. Every company we have been associated with has done better: Blackstone, Warburg, Tata Infomedia…..What is good for the company and its stakeholders is good for us.

Renuka Ramnath now heads her own successful venture capital fund.

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