Deccan Chronicle Tuesday, Apr 11, 2017
Mysuru: His is a B to B story or to be more precise a Barber to a Billionaire story. Starting out as a humble barber, Mr Ramesh Babu , 45, today is a proud owner of 378 ordinary cars and 120 top-end luxury cars , including the Rolls Royce Ghost which he hires out to corporate giants, and filmstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan when they come to Bengaluru on visits.
The entrepreneur, who now runs Ramesh Tours and Travels in Bengaluru , is still in touch with his roots, making sure he cuts hair three days a week at his salon at the Bowring Institute in the city. “It keeps me humble,” he told the audience at a symposium held as part of the three day “Mysuru travel mart,” here on Friday.
His father Gopal, who ran a barber’s shop on Brigade road, died when he was seven years old and his uncle took over the business, but gave the family only Rs 5 a day, forcing his mother had to work as domestic help.
He took a job while in class VIII delivering papers and milk to houses on a cycle gifted to his mother by the daughter of the house she worked in, Ms Nandini. But he doggedly did his SSLC and worked as an office boy while doing his PUC in commerce at a night college.
Then one day he confronted his uncle and asked him to hand over the salon, which he did. Soon he decided to give up his studies and gave all his attention to the salon. While to begin with he only watched his hired barber cut hair, one day he was forced to do it himself when a customer arrived early. That was the beginning.
His travel business began quite by chance in 1994 when he bought his first Maruti car on a loan and found it hard to pay it off.
Ms Nandini again stepped in and helped him hire it out for people travelling outside the city. “In 2001, I was asked to send a Mercedes for someone in Bengaluru. I borrowed it but it stalled halfway. So I decided to buy one in 2004. Now I have 378 cars including 120 luxury ones. People want luxury, they are ready to pay for it,” added the entrepreneur, who hopes to own 700 cars in a decade.
“Even when I had to clear a road tax of Rs 3.78 crores I sold my wife’s jewellery and other properties but not the cars. I still have my Maruthi van,” he smiled.