In a recent viral video where Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata is seen celebrating his 84th birthday, a man was also seen with him while he blew the candles on a small cupcake.
While the video received a lot of love for its simplicity, users online also wondered who the man with Ratan Tata was. Since he was the only one present there, it was clear he was someone special.
The 28-year-old was Shantanu Naidu, who is the Deputy General Manager of Tata Trusts and a close friend and confidant to Ratan Tata himself. A fifth-generation Tata employee, Shantanu holds an MBA from Cornell University and started in the company as a Business Strategy Intern, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He has also founded his start-up called 'Motopaws' that makes glow-in-the-dark dog collars to ensure the safety of street animals, and is also an author.
The wunderkind joined Tata Trusts in 2018, and according to the Motopaws website, he assists Ratan Tata with "venture capital and mentoring startups."
According to reports, he was first introduced to Ratan Tata after he wrote him a letter about Motopaws, and spoke about how his initiative didn't have enough funding. Impressed by Naidu's dedication and his commitment to protect animals, Tata, who himself is an animal-lover, helped kickstart the organization's funding.
His kind-hearted initiatives and finance-driven strategies are a rare combination, one that even caught the eye of Ratan Tata, who has ever since taken Naidu under his wing. The two share a close mentor-mentee relationship, the details of which Naidu also relates in his book, 'I Came Upon a Lighthouse'.
It was during his work with Ratan Tata that Shantanu realized how hesitant India's youth is when it comes to embracing start-up culture. "Shantanu realized the immense fear and lack of direction young students in India faced in Entrepreneurship," reads an excerpt from the Motopaws website.
Naidu decided to help with this by starting 'On Your Sparks' an initiative where he hosted webinars for youngsters and give them tips on how to begin their start-up journey. Though motivational stories and real-life incidents, he aimed to shape India's start-up culture for the youth.
He charged his attendees for the webinar, the proceeds of which went directly to Motopaws. Today, Motopaws operats in 20 cities across 4 countries, and its presence continues to grow.