Friday, January 8, 2010

A Billionaire - Chance Meet

Met Lakshmipathi Raju, Ram's junior from JNTU on the 4th January, 2009. I had just driven in from Pune and was dog tired when Ram called and said he was in town - the billionaire, private jet owner from the US - and could I come over and meet him. I have fond memories of Lachi and said that I would.
Lachi looked just the same. I asked him how he made it. He was a computer science graduate here when he left. He said he always wanted to do pharmacy so he went to the US and graduated in pharmacy all over again. After that he and his brother started a business and added value to one the first businesses they started - of providing home care for patients who needed home IV care. Once they built this business model to a decent size and one of the healthcare companies realised that it was worth buying off them, they sold it off and then realised that another business model was staring them in the face. That of oncologists and increasing their profit margins from distributors and of distributors who can gain by increasing their turnovers by simply giving a few oncologists a higher margin at a time. And on and on and on.
Lachi operates in areas where he adds value, where everyone gets a win win situation and where he builds long term relationships. Today he says he can pretty much get most things done in the healthcare industry in the USA. His brother has since retired after selling five businesses - all small, none which had more than 80 employees at any time - but adding great value all round.
"I always focused on one thing at a time. One business at a time and growing it and creating value," he says. "Only when it became big did the idea of selling it off come. And when I moved into another business it was always related to the first and I could see a clear connection or gap." Another thing was that he invested in was building relationships in the domain right from the first day. He never ever held back when it came to building relationships he says. Today all his business work on the fact that he has this tremendous network of the right people in the healthcare business who trust him and know that he delivers value.
Hmm, lessons from a billionaire. One thing at a time, create value, be in related areas and build lasting relationships. He is also as down to earth and grounded as he was then he remembered the Nike shoes he gifted me before he left for the USA, a prize possession I remember, a white one with red Nike logo which I used for several years after that with great pride. I do think I have a picture of it which I will rummage, scan and post!
More on Lachi and his success formulas later. I will probably have a longer chat with him later when he comes back. He is now trying to get a foothold for healthcare companies in India. That should wake up a few of our pharma giants!!!
Am looking forward to that!

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