My job at INK is to collect people – whether they have anything to do with what we do or not. I always admire people who have a vision, take a stand and be with it way before anyone else can even understand what they are talking about. Here is a story of the man who pursued a vision for a greener world -- way before it was fashionable.
Today, we talk about Hybrids, Electric vehicles, and sustainability as part of our natural language. But imagine thinking about it 18 years ago. And then to take something as precious as your mother’s name and put on a project that is at best a pipe dream. This is exactly what Chetan Maini did. He launched Reva giving shape to his dreams of a greener world. And he did it in India where he hardly got any support. At a time when outsourcing was just picking up, at a time when MNCs were looking for smart, young professionals to run their companies, at a time when he could have relaxed on family money, he chose to dream. When Chetan started Reva as a joint venture between the Maini group and AEV systems in 1994, he took baby steps in giving shape to his passion and he did not let go of that passion through tough times, even when progress seem to be at a standstill. Over the years, I have heard all types of comments on Reva - some positive, some luke warm but all those who meet Chetan will agree on one thing – he is committed to his vision and is determined to make a difference in his own quiet way. Along the way, he conveyed the dream to Mahindra and got them as his partner.
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I was impressed by all the advances, the design, the thought process that went into it, the amazing extended team that worked on it –architects Atelier D’arts to brand company Idiom to name a few- but what I was most happy about was that I got to witness a happy interlude to the persuasion of passion. Sitting here in 2012, we are celebrating having an Indian company at the cutting edge of a global revolution and what I see is the hard work that has been put in for the last 18 years, the countless lonely moments Chetan must have experienced standing alone in the seat of responsibility, the evaluation process he had to go through before he let someone else be a partner in his dream. As an entrepreneur, I can understand how tough it is to choose to bring someone into your world. It needs to be someone who does not interfere with your passion and opens new doors; who lets you follow your dream and interferes only to set the course right if things go awry; who stands next to you in the spotlight but does not let you fall in their shadow. And I think that Chetan found that perfect partner in Anand Mahindra. And this is why-
At the inaguration of the Mahindra Reva green factory, Anand stood in front of the press to make the opening speech and he started off with acknowledging Chetan and his family for the pursuit of their collective dream. Anand made sure that even with the addition of the Mahindra name, the dreamer remained at the center of attention. In that one gesture, I felt that Chetan picked the right partner who would let him pursue what he was best at, improve the rest at an accelerated pace and make it possible for India to produce one of the most cutting edge innovative products on a global stage.
I was impressed with the technology, excited by the possibility of Indian innovation making a global impact but mostly what I am rooting for is the possibility for the passion of an individual to be fueled by the reach of a large corporation while keeping the entrepreneurial spirit intact. I celebrate the friendship between Anand and Chetan, and hope that they grow together. We talk about corporate structures, practices, supply chain improvements and many other issues but I know that the MOST IMPORTANT thing that matters in the success of Mahindra Reva is the relationship between Anand and Chetan, and I wish them all the luck to continue their journey as friends and partners.