“The Phenomenon Next Door”-Tara Patnaik

India is replete with stunning success stories of small-time business honchos who have catapulted to the big league.

by Soumayashree Mishra
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India is replete with stunning success stories of small-time business honchos who have catapulted to the big league. They are the rare breed who grew up without godfathers and ramped up their businesses without pulling strings. Tara Ranjan Patnaik from Odisha who helms India’s largest marine foods exports company stands out as a business owner with incomparable grit and indomitable spirit. He is the only business tycoon from the eastern state who recently figured in India Today’s list of small-city business owners and wealth creators who have earned their place in the sun and garnered recognition beyond the established corporate empires.

 

Bhubaneswar’s Tara Ranjan Patnaik, a law graduate, ventured into the marine exports business, and today has an annual turnover of Rs 2,800 crore, India Today said in a flattering tribute to the doyen of Odisha Inc.

 

In a state that doesn’t really have a culture of entrepreneurship, he stands out as a shining beckon. Tara Ranjan Patnaik, a first-generation entrepreneur who has built up his business empire from scratch, has blazed a new trail in a state that did not have too many names in the field of business to boast about. He dared to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon in an ecosystem that worshipped secure, salaried jobs.

Today, Falcon Marine Exports Private Limited, his flagship venture, is a name to reckon with internationally as the top marine products exporter in the country. The turnover has risen phenomenally over the years, reaching Rs … crores. But not one to rest on laurels, Tara Ranjan wants to make it a $1 billion company in the near future. Propelled largely by the stupendous success of Falcon Marine, seafood exports from Odisha have now emerged as a major area for exports,

 

Having earned his spurs in marine seafood export, he has now ventured into diverse sectors like steel, real estate and education and made a success of each one of them with his sharp acumen in sensing a business opportunity and an uncompromising commitment to quality in everything he does. It is a remarkable feat by someone who comes from a lawyer’s family in a small town and is just an Arts graduate. Not for nothing does this pioneering businessman describe himself as a ‘businessman by accident!

 

For someone who has achieved phenomenal success in his chosen field, Tara Ranjan’s first foray into business was an unmitigated disaster. Prodded on by his friend and classmate J Rahmat, he ventured into the trawler business in the mid-1980s, buying four trawlers after taking a Rs 2 lakh loan from the Odisha State Financial Corporation (OSFC). But with little idea about how to run the business, his first venture failed badly and Tara Ranjan had to sell off his trawlers to pay off the loan.

 

Most people in such a position would have thrown in the towel and done something else. But far from being overwhelmed by the loss, Tara Ranjan stayed the course and began afresh. This time, he opted for the less risky area of procuring prawn directly from fishermen and supplying them to exporters. Having gained sufficient insight and experience into how the business works, he set up Falcon Marine Exports Private Limited, his flagship venture, in 1985.

 

After establishing Falcon Marine as the leading seafood exporter in the country, Tara forayed into the emerging steel business and set up Patnaik Steel & Alloys Limited in 2006 with an investment of Rs 200 crores.. He received a real shot in the arm when his son Parthajeet Patnaik, with an MBA degree from London, joined him in 2008. The same year, he set up an integrated steel plant in Joda, his home turf, at an investment of Rs 200 crores. Next on the line was Falcon Real Estate Private Limited, the real estate arm of what had now become the large multi-business Falcon conglomerate. With a land bank of about 300 acres in and around Bhubaneswar, Falcon Real Estate has emerged as a trusted name in the sector within a short period.

 

But Tara Ranjan is much more than a highly successful entrepreneur. Having come up the hard way, he understands the need for employment in a poor state like Odisha. Falcon employs over 5000 workers. There is a philanthropist lurking inside the A-list businessman. When the Covid 19 started wreaking havoc in the state, he was the first off the blocks and contributed Rs 1 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) and appealed to fellow entrepreneurs to chip in with generous contributions to go fight the pandemic.

 

There are many Odias who have succeeded in various fields. However, Tara Ranjan belongs to that rare breed who has achieved enviable success in an area that has very few success stories, especially without a business background. Not just in Odisha, but across the country, he is an example of success for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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