Tara Ranjan Patnaik, Chairman, Falcon Group of Companies
Seafood in top gear was back in focus recently when marine exports from Odisha touched a high of Rs 3000 crore in 2018-19. While government incentives and facilitation propelled outbound seafood shipments, a towering entrepreneur has assiduously scripted its success story.
Over the past three decades, Tara Ranjan Patnaik(Seafood in Top Gear), the boss of Falcon Group has anchored the colossal success story in Odisha’s seafood sector.
A trailblazer and amongst the rare first generation entrepreneurs in Odisha, Tara Ranjan Patnaik has a towering presence in the business community.
For a visionary like him who pioneered the marine revolution in the state, no dream is too big. As a hugely successful entrepreneur, Patnaik has chased all dreams and realized them.
His(Seafood in Top Gear) foresight has taken the Falcon Group to dizzy heights of fame and success. Today, the Falcon Group founded by him is not just known for its prowess in marine exports, it is also a force to reckon with in mining, metals, real estate, power, and education.
But for all his glittering achievements, Patnaik is the quintessential business owner next door. He is very much the common man’s entrepreneur, inspiring the aspiring to make it big.
Patnaik(Seafood in Top Gear) has proven that pedigree or formal qualifications do not always make the best out of you. His own journey to establishing the Falcon Group is the trail of a common man chasing success but unsure of how the route pans out.
Patnaik(Seafood in Top Gear) himself concedes that being an entrepreneur was only a second thought. His ambition was to be a lawyer. In fact, he hails from a family of lawyers which wanted him to carry the legacy ahead.
But, fate had other plans contrived for him. Patnaik admits he turned into a businessman by accident. It was his friend and classmate J Rahmat who changed the course of his life in 1975.
“He(Seafood in Top Gear) told me to invest in buying fishing trawlers,” says Tara Ranjan.
“I had no idea about the business whatsoever, but he insisted we do the business together. I agreed. We took a loan of around Rs two lakh from Odisha State Financial Corporation and purchased three or four trawlers. We both were equal partners”, he recalled.
Patnaik’s initial business venture failed. “We suffered huge losses because we lacked the required knowledge”, says Tara Ranjan. “I had to sell off my trawlers to pay off the loan. It was a tough time…”
However, he didn’t lose hope. He had built a network in the business and, in 1978, he began to supply prawns to big export companies operating in the state.
“I began to purchase prawns directly from the fishermen and sell it to big exporters,” he explains. “Though I had incurred losses in my business, I had gained experience about where and how to make money.”
Over the next seven years, he continued to sell prawns to exporters and build contacts, including buyers of prawns in foreign countries. In 1985, he founded Falcon Marine Export Private Limited in Bhubaneswar.
The business began to grow and the company registered a turnover of Rs 4.66 crore in 1987-88.
“We started by hiring a company that would package our products but soon I decided to have my own processing unit,” he recounts.
His family backdrop is quite humble. Patnaik recalls his father was a lawyer who used to practice at the lower courts.
He started his education from a government school in Anandapur in 1954 and moved to Bhadrak to join Bhadrak College in 1969 to study science and started staying at a hostel.
However, he left it after a year as he was disturbed by frequent strikes and student agitations in the college.
Then, he returned to Keonjhar and continued his studies in the science stream from 1970 to 1971 but quit again – he had lost interest in the subject.
In 1972, he switched to the arts stream and took admission in Anandapur College, Keonjhar, from where he completed his graduation.
Patnaik named his company Falcon as he had the ambition to soar. Even, he didn’t realize that the Falcon Group would grow to such a staggering stature.
By 1990-1991, the turnover had increased to over Rs 12.5 crore with the export of 850 tonnes per year.
The year 2000-01 the turnover crossed Rs 157 crore, with an export quantity of 3,100 tonnes of seafood every year.
In 2006, the company entered into the steel business with Patnaik Steel and Alloys Limited. It has an integrated steel plant in Jora in Odisha.
Spread over an area of 120 acres, the plant was started at an investment of around Rs 200 crore.
Two years later, in 2008, his son Parthajeet Patnaik, an MBA from London, joined his father’s business.
In the same year, the company made a foray into real estate and Falcon Real Estate Pvt Ltd came into existence.
The company had a land bank of around 300 acres in and around Bhubaneswar and its outskirts, and an investment of around Rs 45 crore was made for building 120 apartments.
Today, Falcon is the biggest seafood exporter in the country. But, Patnaik aims to scale higher and become the biggest exporter in Asia.
He is intensely pursuing opportunities to scale up- it’s his vision to build Falcon Marine Exports into a $1 billion company.
Falcon’s back-end is impressive- there are over 5000 farmers.
Patnaik believes the government can help not by subsidies but by providing land and infrastructure to such farmers.