He left out of school at the age of 16 in 1978 to catch a train to Mumbai to try his luck, and three years later earned his first killing – a ten thousand dollar commission on a diamond sale with a Japanese customer.
Gautam Adani, Asia’s richest man, began his entrepreneurial path at that point. He laments not finishing college, stating that his early experiences made him intelligent, but formal education swiftly broadens one’s knowledge.
Mr. Gautam Adani spoke at the 75th anniversary celebrations of Vidya Mandir Trust Palanpur in Gujarat, recounting his phenomenal journey that has seen his group become the world’s largest solar power company, India’s largest airport and sea port operator, the nation’s largest integrated energy player, the country’s second-largest cement manufacturer, and a conglomerate with a market capitalisation of more than $225 billion in four and a half decades.
While his social behaviour was formed by the arid and harsh living circumstances of Gujarat’s Banaskantha, his father’s engagement in what is now known as ‘ahead trades’ provided him with the early learning.
Mr. Gautam Adani came to Ahmedabad after leaving Banaskantha, where he completed his secondary school for four years.
“I was just 16 years old when I decided to forego my studies and go to Mumbai,” he explained. “In this context, I am frequently questioned why I moved to Mumbai and did not work with my family. Many of the children in the audience would agree that a teenage boy’s optimism and drive for freedom is difficult to restrain. All I knew was that I wanted to accomplish something unique and on my own.”
With little money in his pocket, he bought a railway ticket and boarded the Gujarat Mail to Mumbai.
“When I arrived in Mumbai, my cousin Prakashbhai Desai enrolled me at Mahendra Brothers, where I began learning how to assort diamonds. I rapidly learned the trade, and after around three years at Mahendra Brothers, I quit to start my own brokerage in diamond trading at Zaveri Bazar “He stated. “I vividly remember my first exchange with a Japanese customer. I earned a $10,000 commission.”
This, he added, was the beginning of his entrepreneurial adventure.
“Another frequently asked topic is whether I have any regrets about not attending college. Reflecting on my life and the various paths it has taken, I now think that I would have benefited from finishing college. While my early experiences taught me wisdom, I now understand that formal education swiftly broadens one’s understanding “He stated. “To gain wisdom, one must gain experience; to get knowledge, one must study.”
He described them as complimentary. “And, while I will never truly know, I do wonder whether my talents would have expanded faster if I had gone to college.”
Mr.Gautam Adani, 60, began as a trader and has since gone on a quick diversification binge, expanding his business from ports and coal mining to airports, data centres, cement, and green energy.
“First-generation entrepreneurs typically begin with a distinct edge – the benefit of having nothing to lose. This notion is their source of strength. This was freeing in my thinking. I had no legacy to leave behind, but I had the opportunity to leave my own.
“I had nothing to prove to anyone — but I did have a chance to show to myself that I could climb. I had nothing to lose by venturing into unfamiliar territory. Except for my own, I had no expectations to meet. These principles got ingrained in me “He stated.
Mr. Gautam Adani stated that when he was 19, his elder brother Mahasukhbhai invited him back to assist operate a small-scale PVC film plant the family had bought in Ahmedabad.
“We used to buy raw materials from other countries. It was a difficult business. Given all of the import limitations at the time, PVC film manufacture faced a severe lack of raw materials “He said that the liberalisation of import rules by then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 provided him with his first significant break.
“Despite my lack of trading knowledge, I seized the chance and proceeded quickly to form a trading organisation. We began importing polymers to supply the small-scale firms that were lacking in raw materials. This decision created the groundwork for the Global Trading Company I would eventually establish “He stated.
P.V. Narasimha Rao’s 1991 liberalisation enabled him to develop a full-fledged worldwide trading firm dealing in polymers, metals, textiles, and agricultural products.
“Within two years, we had grown to become the country’s largest worldwide trading business. I had turned 29 and realised the importance of two dimensions that would define all we accomplished – scale and speed “He stated.
Mr. Gautam Adani had previously concentrated on trade. In 1994, he listed Adani Exports, today known as Adani Enterprises.
Another chance arose in 1995, when the Gujarat government chose to enhance the state’s coastline.
“Around the same time, Cargill, a worldwide commodities trader, approached us with a proposition to source the salt produced along the Kutch coastline,” he explained.
“To make a long and exciting tale short, the collaboration did not go further. However, we were left with around 40,000 acres of marshy area to harvest salt and permission to construct a captive jetty at Mundra for salt export.”
He then constructed a full-service commercial port at Mundra, Gujarat. “And the rest, as they say, is history,” he continued.
When the Gujarat government unveiled its SEZ strategy in 2005, Mr. Gautam Adani acted rapidly to turn the site initially designated for salt industries into the country’s largest multi-product SEZ, supported by world-class infrastructure such as ports, rail, aviation, road, and water networks.
“Today, I can certainly state that Mundra’s true growth has only just begun. It now has the potential to become one of the world’s leading integrated industrial parks in the next years “He stated.
Gautam Adani Group has continued to develop and is now the world’s largest solar power provider, with plans to become the world’s largest renewable firm by 2030. With 25% of passenger traffic and 40% of air cargo, it is India’s largest airport operator.
It is India’s largest port and logistics corporation, with a 30% national market share. It is also India’s largest integrated energy company, with a portfolio that includes power production, transmission, and distribution, LNG and LPG terminals, city gas, and piped gas distribution.
Following the IPO of Gautam Adani Wilmar, the Gautam Adani Group is the country’s second biggest cement maker and the most valued FMCG firm.
“We have announced our direction in new industries like as data centres, super applications, industrial clouds, aerospace and defence, metals, and petrochemicals,” he stated.
Mr. Gautam Adani further stated that over the next 30 years, India would be a place of huge opportunity, and that now is the time to dream big.