On In Inspiration

This Millionaire Barber Owns Not 1, 2, 3... But 200 Cars

We all hear stories about personal perseverance, about real-life heroes overcoming holdups reaching the pinnacle of success and they never disappoint to inspire us. This story is yet another inspiration to inflame our passions telling us to believe in our dreams and follow suit.

Ramesh Babu (Bangalore, India) with his mean machines.

Ramesh Babu, a barber by profession followed his dream persistently and today he is a millionaire and a proud owner of a Rolls Royce and other luxury cars. It started with a Maruti Van and now he has a fleet of owns more than 200 cars. With his limited savings, he bought a Maruti Van in the year 1994 and started his own car rental business that had reached to seven cars by 2004. His car list now includes 200 vehicles and what is even more extraordinary that out of the 200 cars, 75 come in the luxury segment; Mercedes, BMW, Audi, five and ten seater luxury vans, and his ultimate mean machine and pride, a Rolls Royce.

Once a barber, always a barber...

Now living in the lap of luxury, much of Ramesh Babu’s early life was a struggle for survival and remembering his roots he remains true to his craft, a barber at heart. It was during high school when Babu started snipping locks taking forward his father’s legacy. He still takes pride in doing it and charges only a hundred rupees for his service. It is this humbleness that has won millions of hearts and earned him the title of ‘Millionaire Barber’. He has been featured on several television channels and newspapers and has even given a TED talk where he humbly referred himself as the ‘Millionaire Barber’. An urban legend, here’s the inspiring real-life story of Ramesh Babu.

Challenging Openings

Born into a poor family, Babu’s father was a barber who passed away in the year 1979 when Babu was just seven years old. Her mother started working as a maid servant to makes ends meet and his father’s saloon business was taken over by his uncle who used to pay them five rupees a day. Even during those days, five rupees was too small an amount to see to Babu, his brother and sister’s educational and physical needs. To survive they took to having just one meal a day. To pick up extra cash Babu started taking up odd jobs from delivering milk bottles to newspapers and more to lessen the burden on his mother’s shoulder. Thanks to the money coming in from these odd jobs that Babu could finish his tenth standard and join evening PUC.

Turning point in Babu's life

It was sometime during the nineties when his mother had a bitter fight with the uncle and he simply stopped paying them any money. Babu wanted to take over the saloon but his mother was adamant about him to continue his education. Babu started working at saloon learning the trade. Mornings were spent in the saloon and evenings at college and since the saloon used to be open till 1 in the morning, Babu used to go again after the college. It was during this time that people started calling him a barber.

Avant-garde, here he begins...

He bought a second-hand Maruti Van in 1993. His uncle had bought a small car and it was because of that he too bought a car in vanity. It took all his savings and a little loan but the satisfaction of buying a grander vehicle than his uncle was what made him feel happier. His grandfather mortgaged his property for him to get the loan and the loan interest was six thousand and eight hundred rupees.It was Nandini akka, the lady in whose house her mother used to work suggested to rent the car instead of just keeping it around. It was again she who taught him the basics of the business. She became like a sister for Babu and still is a big part of his life. She even called him and showed him off at her daughter’ wedding.

Building bricks of the business...

It was from 1994 that Ramesh Babu got seriously into the car rental business. The first company he rented the car to was Intel and it was again Nandini akka who arranged that as she was working there. Babu kept adding more cars to the fleet and till 2004 he had about five to six cars. He was more focused on the saloon business and this was a side business. Also, this business was not doing very well as the competition was tough as everyone in the business had small cars. It was then he thought of getting into the luxury car segment where not many players had forayed.

No risk no gain!

When Babu was buying his first luxury car in 2004 everyone suggested him he was making a big mistake. Forty lakh rupees even for a luxury car in 2004 was huge and though he was apprehensive he took the plunge. He decided to sell off the car if it came to the worst. But luckily for Babu, the risk paid off wonderfully. None of the other car rental services had a luxury car of this grandeur. Others did have cars in the luxury segment but they were all second-hand models and not in a good condition. Babu was the first person in Bengaluru to invest in a brand new luxury car and it changed the car rental services for good.“If you want to do business, you might be willing to take risks”, says Babu. Again when he tried to take a step further and invest in a Rolls Royce in 2011 people warned him about the scope of failure he might have to deal with, with such a huge investment. Babu then thought about the risk he took a decade earlier and how well it paid off. He went ahead and invested almost four crore rupees in this car and once again, the risk paid off extremely well. It has proven to be one of the most popular vehicles he owns.

Biggest challenge

Every business has its share of challenges and the biggest challenge Babu had to face was pay over three crores rupees in road taxes alone. He borrowed from so many people, even putting up his property documents to get cash. “Every business will have recurring formidable challenges. The idea is to embrace them wholeheartedly and tackle them vehemently”, he further adds.

What the future holds...

While expanding his car rental business, Babu has not neglected his father’s business and has opened two more shops around Bengaluru. "My first priority is my profession, my barber shop. That gave me bread and every day I work from 8 am till late evening. I visit all three saloons and handle the work personally. This gives me enormous satisfaction," he says.He dedicates his success to his mother, recalling how she had struggled for him especially after the death of his father. "Her sacrifice and guidance have helped me to achieve my goal," he says.

Success mantra and message to other aspiring entrepreneurs...

Babu’s success mantra is simple and easy to follow, "All you need to succeed is confidence, relentless hard work, dedication, and undeviating focus on your goal…and some luck", he commences.