Tata Nano Convertible: Brainchild of a Gujarati businessman
Until a few months back, 44 year old Ramesh Patel was working for a contractor to ferry laborers to and fro a construction site in Navsari. Here is how he created a business for himself and a joy-ride for everyone else.
Staying next to a beach has its own benefits. Ramesh’s house is just 100 meters off the shore. Everyday after work, he would go for a walk on the beach and watch the sunset. He would also notice the amount of money tourists spent at the beach. Let me give you an idea of the beach in question here. This beach will give you an altogether different experience. It’s filled with kids and their parents. There’s hardly anyone in the water. But everybody loves to go to the beach for horse rides, camel rides, parasailing via car, eating, drinking and many such other activities. Sensing a business opportunity so close to his house, Ramesh decided wanted to open a business on the beach but most of the flourishing businesses at the beach here, were not viable financially.
He kept on thinking. One such evening, about 6 months back, Ramesh got an idea, which coud give him the chance to setup his own business on the beach. To materialize his idea, he needed a Nano convertible. So, he visited the nearest Tata Motors dealer and asked for a Nano without roof. Perplexed with the demand, the dealer politely said that Tata Motors has not launched a Nano in that format. All that is available is the one you see here.
Ramesh then asks the dealer, “Can I get one made without roof, from you?” The dealer, still perplexed, said he cannot answer that, our office in Pune will help you with that. Not one to loose hope, Ramesh called up the Pune office. They too declined. Then he laid his final offer to Tata Motors office in Pune, which he thought was too good to be declined. He offered to pay the full amount of the car’s price, plus he will also offer the unused materials like glass and roof back to Tata, for free. He still wonders why was his final offer rejected.
Anyways, Ramesh returned empty handed from the Tata Motors dealer, but now he had a new idea. He decided to buy a new Nano and then cut the roof off. But then, he thought of the negative part, what if the business fails? Buying a used Nano was a better bet. Luckily, a relative of his is willing to sell a yellow colored Nano. Next part was to modify the Nano. Ramesh visited a garage, which was owned by a friend of his. Ramesh then explains what he exactly wants to be made out of the Nano. After a brief discussion, the garage owner tells Ramesh to come back after a week. Speaking about the money he spent in modifying the Nano, Ramesh says, the garage friend did him as a favor.
In Dec 2012, Ramesh took the delivery of his home-made Tata Nano Convertible, with all the necessary mods, like protective cover on the underbody, no windows, plastic cover on seats, special roof-mat and a waterproof cover for the car when its parked in his garage. The roof of the Nano was taken off permanently, but kept in a perfectly good condition at his home. If the business failed, Ramesh would ask the same garage friend to attach the roof back and then sell the car off. He says, this way, he would lose a maximum of INR 20k.
Ramesh was now ready to start his new business. He took his Nano Convertible to the beach next day itself and was amazed with the kind of response received. He says, from the first day itself, the Nano Convertible created a niche for itself amongst other adventure rides offered on the beach.
Nano is a very recognizable car, not only in India, but globally, and seeing one without roof, is something everybody visiting the beach cherishes. Hundreds of people take a drive on the beach in Ramesh’s Nano Convertible and even more come near the car just to click a picture.
Ramesh no longer works for the contractor as the Nano joy-ride business is good and growing. He has also hired help for his new business, which allows him to take rest in between joy-rides. He sits on a plastic chair next to the car and will offer a drive around the beach for INR 150 ($2.7).