Anil Jain was always cut out to be an entrepreneur. His father and uncle came to Chennai in 60’s and started with an Auto Finance business and over the years gradually moved to trading in Industrial Stainless steel. They started with one Company in 1976 in the name of Madras Metals and another in 1980 in the name of Bombay Metals. When his father and uncle split in mid 90’s Bombay Metals had come in Anil’s father’s share. Anil used to take an active interest in the business during his younger days, right from his school days, he used to visit the trading businesses during weekends and saw how business operated.
One thing that was instilled deep in him was the need to be accountable for all his actions. He did not ever mind carrying out even menial jobs, if the situation warranted it. The point was simple – he had to learn every aspect of the business. He used to get paid a princely Rs15 for counting the collections of the firm at the end of the day when he used to go there during his school days. He slowly started learning the trade, and started helping his father during mid 90’s till beginning of 2000. This made him independent from an early age; he traded in the stock market and also sold jeans and T-shirts while in college. He wanted to earn his own money to fund his standard of living.
The turning point came after a chance meeting with one of his customers, when he was exposed to a new product – Refrigerant gas. A bit of research and he knew his big chance was at hand. He was able to foresee an exponential growth in the business of HFC gases, as by 2010, the use of HFC gases would be mandatory as per the Montreal Protocol.
There has been no looking back since then.
The challenge now is to establish a global footprint. To achieve this, he will have to improvise constantly and rely on his ability to identify opportunities, anticipate tomorrow, innovate and invest strategically. As a first step in this direction, he has taken majority stake in a Singapore-based company called Kaltech Engineering and Refrigeration Pte Ltd. It is one of the biggest refrigerant re-fillers in this part, catering to markets in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe. This venture was not very successful and he had to exit from this in 2011. During the same period when he acquired Kaltech, he also started Refex Energy Limited at home, which was focused on Solar Energy.
What drives him is an intense desire to succeed and redefine the parameters of success. He may not win all the time, but the more intense a challenge, the greater the spoils he could take home. It’s not about a 100-metre dash, as much as about a marathon. No milestone is reason enough to stop.
Anil Jain’s biggest strength is his team of people working for him. He has always tried to enthuse them, make them comfortable, create a zone of comfort where they can work without feeling the stress, come out with ideas, take decisions without having to look up to him all the time. This has created a culture of independence and strengthened their loyalty towards the company. He is always there for them, personally and professionally.
Anil Jain’s advice to budding entrepreneurs: Be practical and pragmatic about whatever you do. Once you see the worth of something, take it forward, no matter what.
About his companies
Refex Energy Limited
In 2008, Refex Energy embarked on an exciting journey to develop solar as sustainable energy source, and provide eco-friendly power alternatives in India. At Refex, we aim to be a leading sustainable energy solutions provider in the country and provide energy solutions, which are not only viable in the current scenario but also in the long term. The revenues in the current year have reached 345 Crores and growing at a fast pace.
Refex Energy provides turnkey Solar energy solutions from concept to commissioning for solar PV with the operation and maintenance services throughout the life-time of the project. Led by visionary leaders and industry veterans, REL intends to make Green Power available to all at a cost that pays for itself. Refex strongly believes in the Sun’s potential to significantly address the problems associated with power obtained from non-renewable sources of energy, and it is with this passion, they aim to provide solar solutions to their customers. Quality has always been of utmost priority for Refex, and we challenge ourselves to deliver high quality solutions in the most cost effective manner.
Refex recognize the importance of every step taken towards to building a greener and safer future, and have committed to the development of eco-friendly technologies and futuristic energy solutions. By harnessing the inexhaustible energy of the sun, Refex Energy offers efficient and advanced solutions for energy requirements for today and tomorrow.
Refex Energy has built more than 150Mw of Solar Power plants in the country, 3 of the top 5 Best performing solar plants commissioned under National Solar Policies are constructed by Refex Energy, reflecting our high performance standards and quality controls, (Source: Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Website). The successful performance history of around 21MW of solar power plants commissioned by Refex Energy by October 2011, making it the only EPC in the country with a track record of more than 3 years of successful working Solar Plants in the country. This is a unique selling point for our company unmatched by it’s competition.
He is shortly in the process of listing this Company on BSE and NSE.
Refex Industries Limited
Refex Industries Limited (RIL) (formerly Refex Refrigerants Limited) is a specialist refiller and distributor of Refrigerant gases across India, particularly, environmentally acceptable gases that are replacements for Chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFC’s). These are used primarily as Refrigerants, Foam Blowing Agents and Aerosol Propellants. Its revenues are close to 80 Crores last year.
RIL exercises superior quality control and efficiency with the aid of sophisticated and novel Automated technology for filling. Refex is committed to being an exemplary player in terms of safety, protection of health and environment, and sustainable development. The Group’s policy is underpinned by strong values shared across the Company: spirit of initiative, commitment to progress, professionalism, solidarity, openness, and dialogue. Refex is a supplier to Major Auto Companies, Air Conditioner Manufacturers and also caters to after markets across the country. With a wide network of dealers and distributors, Refex claims a major market share in Refrigerant Industry. Refrigerant selling has created a brand for Refex and from a mere commodity; it made it a branded product, which speaks for its quality and reliability.
Refex Trading (S) Pte. Ltd.
Refex Trading (S) Pte Ltd., is an International Trading arm of the group based out of Singapore. With annual revenues of over 50Mio SGD, this Company is into trading of various Minerals. Heavy minerals like Illuminate, Bauxite, Barrite, etc. have been a major product line in the last few years, Coal has added in the last year and have supplied to various companies in Middle, East, Europe and India. Refex has also supplied coal to a trader in India for supply to NTPC.
In his Personal capacity, he has been nurturing start ups and mentoring them towards growth. He has been constantly meeting start up entrepreneurs and motivating them to start their own ventures. He takes with him systems and corporate culture to the startups, apart from financial investments, he brings in professionalism in startups with his team who help them transform to professional Corporates. His team is an expert in Business and Companies transformations by building Systems, SOP’s, KPI’s, KRA’s along with their HR policy, building team, Finance and accounts team with Delegation charters, etc. These helps Company scale very fast and adapt to the fast growing business environment. His team also sets up trainings and brings in external consultants from various fields to help in decision-makings and sign off for the business plans.
He has already invested in many Startups already and committed to a lot more.
I Love Diamonds Pvt Limited, which is into online Jewelry with name “ilovediamonds.com”. The business and website is officially getting launched on 28th August 2015. Apart from selling Jewelry online, its also planning to set up trust stores across the country. 3 of the stores are already up in Bangalore, Chennai and Coimbatore. The investment is to the tune of 1Million USD.
The next Investment is into a Laundry business in the company called The Laundry Project Private Limited, running under brand name “wassup”. They are in the business of commercial and Retail Laundry with operations in Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore and Delhi, starting soon in Mumbai. He is one of the biggest investor after the promoters. Currently HNI’s including, B.S.Nagesh, non-executive vice-chairman of Shoppers Stop, former Barclays India chief executive Mani Subramanian, Ranga Iyer, former MD of pharma major Wyeth India and Arun Chandra Mohan and Praveen Sinha, founders of Jabongg are other investors in this venture. The investment in this is close to 1.00 Million USD.
He has invested in an Online Insurance Company Easypolicy.com; which is started by Ex Promoter of Policybazaar.com and is in a fast trajectory of growth. He along with Ronnie Screwwala of Unilazer Ventures has invested in this. He has already put in a quarter million and is committed for another quarter million by this yearend.
He has invested in a Data Telemetry Company Sun Telematics, the founders of this Company were the first in the country to create a software for Radio Taxis and worked extensively with Meru and others in olden days to set up Radio Taxi. They are out to transform the way this industry has been working in the last few years. Their products and services will reduce the cost for the Transport industry and make them more efficient and robust. He has invested close to Half a Million in this Company.
Another Company is into Intelligent Hiring, Started by2 IIM Ahmedabad Alumini’s. Based out of Bangalore, EvenRank has a database of more than 400,000 resumes and helps companies find the right person using artificial intelligence to assess the resume based on different criteria’s and needs for every Company.
Then comes in the space of Fitness, Flabfit, started by 2 commerce grads, who felt that fitness and wellness should be available in day and one time packages also, a user should be able to find the best place in the locality he is in when he needs the service and should be able to get the best deal for that one visit. They broke the structure of Discounts for Loyalty to discounts for all. This is a disruptive product and can bring all the small and medium wellness and fitness places on maps of the country, offering customers a pay by use Service.
Branfee is a Selfie app which uses AI to identify everything the person is wearing or using in a selfie and take the user to a page to buy the same. It also offers discounts and cash coupons for uploading selfies at certain merchants and using certain merchandises. AI can identify all the products in a selfie and take it to a single or a multi commodity merchandiser who has signed up to sell the product.
The other commitments are towards a Management cum Business Intelligence Company. This is mainly into transformation of business to a corporate and professional culture and building systems and SOP’s for the Company, they also build dashboards for management and team review. Health Management and aggregator Company, investment commitment on a Niche Artist and her Company, A Fintech Company aggregating loans for small, Medium and Large companies. The total investments in these companies will be close to 2.00 Million USD.
Apart from the above investments, he has outlined another 5Million USD to be invested in other startups in various fields over the next 12 months. There are 6 Companies, which are in advance stages of negotiations for investments and will close by August 2016.
Apart from the above, he incubates young CEO’s and Promoters of Ideas to transform into business. At his current office space, 2 groups are already in the process of transforming an idea into business. He provides space for them to work and mature into a company and convert the idea into business. He provides them services like Secretarial, Legal, Admin, Accounts and Finance officers, HR and other services which is not required for a start up to go out and spend money to look for. He is in the process of adding another 5000 sqft towards this incubation in Chennai and provide more robust services and guidance to the ideas.