Dr Richie Nanda: You don’t need to start off knowing about business

Born in Ranchi, a small suburban Indian town, Dr Richie Nanda’s father ran a chain of Chinese restaurants in Mumbai. But Dr Nanda’s life was turned upside down and he was thrown into the entrepreneurial deep end when his father had a debilitating stroke.

Dr Nanda explains that “it was a steep learning curve, but I learnt fast and managed to be a successful restauranteur. Six years later, however, I realised that the hospitality industry was not where I saw my future. In 1992, I finally took over my other family business, TOPSGRUP. It was a very risky step to take, but I sensed a great potential growth in the Indian security sector and I wanted to be part of it.”

Indeed, at the age of 22 Dr Richie Nanda had begun a career in the security industry at TOPSGRUP, an ailing company that only had eight customers. This was at a time when the security sector in India was undervalued and underrepresented. Needless to say, Dr Nanda re-wrote the rules for the industry with innovative and forward-thinking initiatives.

He identified that there was a gap in the Indian security market – no one was delivering fully-functioning and integrated security. He filled the niche by changing the perception of security guards, from manual labour to business enablers. Today, TOPSGRUP is India’s largest security group, with revenues in excess of £150m, 93,000 employees, 120 offices worldwide with the global headquarters in London, and approximately 8,000 customers.

But it doesn’t stop there. In July, 2012, Dr Nanda completed a £19.5m acquisition of The Shield Group, initiated with 51 per cent controlling stake in 2008. Under Dr Nanda’s leadership Shield has become the UK’s tenth largest security company. The acquisition positioned Dr Nanda as the only entrepreneur of an Indian MNC to purchase a 100 per cent stake in a British security company. It also gained him a Sunday Times Rich list entry in 2012 and 2013.

When asked why he chose The Shield Group, he said: “There were many others we looked at, some better and some worse than Shield but the crucial thing was that Shield had the fundamentals in place – it lacked sales, outward thinking and growth but it was strong on ethics, values, employees, relationships and I simply love that. We sell human services, so for us relationships are everything.”

It is a truly inspirational story that those thinking of starting a new business should take to heart. Dr Nanda started off not knowing anything about business, but stresses that he resolved to use his common sense and instincts.

“The key to success for businesses – and to survive in the marketplace – is to try and differentiate a brand from other similar products and services on the market. For this, you need to really think out of the box to find your cutting edge. It is imperative for fledgling start-ups, who are just unfolding their business wings, to research carefully and identify a niche in the market and play up to this with a methodical and sustainable financial, marketing and publicity plan.”

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