Bhanu Choudhrie was Entrepreneur of the Year at the Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards in 2008.
Born in Delhi in 1978, he studied International Business and Marketing at the University of Boston and moved to London.
He has been the executive director of C&C Alpha Group Ltd since 2001 and the group has a vast portfolio of investments, from luxury award-winning spa hotels in India and Mauritius to care homes in the UK.
What made you come over to London rather than working in the US when you finished your degree?
I did an internship in the US in 1999 at JP Morgan but soon after I saw a huge opportunity with lots of new businesses and ventures to get into in London. It was an interesting time and period of my life.
In 2008 you won the Asian Entrepreneur of the Year award, what did it mean to you winning this?
Being an Asian award and being born in India, it was very exciting to receive the award. It's been great to have the opportunity in a country where I wasn't born, to learn, develop business and meet people.
You do a lot of charity work, is it important to you to be giving something back?
It is Hindu philosophy that the more you give, the more you get. When I was a child, we used to visit the blind, the handicapped and schools where kids were without parents. It is about taking care of other individuals and to cherish what you have, you must take care of them. Path to Success is a charity run by my mother and it is a very big success story. I help her as director to promote the charity and work with schools in the UK.
You are a lover of Asian Art setting up an Art Foundation. What is it in particular that you like about it and what does the art foundation entail?
There is a lack of Asian arts in the UK and I want to promote local individuals. There are some galleries and some museums with a couple of pieces here and there, but it is seriously lacking. My endeavor is to secure a location in Central London to bring in artists from Asia, bring in musicians into culture and show what Asian culture is all about. For example, M.F. Husain is the 'Picasso of India,' and he is still painting at 94 years old. I want to interact with children, governments and schools to showcase Indian talents.
You have invested in a Bollywood production – tell us more about this.
I have launched a company in India which is going into filming and distribution. We found that there are people with huge amounts of ability and there are organizations in India that fund small and large productions; however it is a disorganized structure. The middle scale productions are being left out and it is difficult for them to secure funding. We have stepped in and going to partner with medium sized production companies. I am working with famous Indian singer and producer Anup Jalota, with a film being launched Worldwide in April. I am actually flying out tonight to look through scripts in the next week. There is a lot of talent in India.
What is the secret to your success?
It is being able to be supporting and working with management teams, CEOs and professionals who run businesses on a day to day business.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to set up their own business, especially in the current tough climate?
This is the perfect opportunity and time for inspiring entrepreneurs to launch. There is a huge opportunity in this environment to shine, we have recessions all the time and if you can succeed in the middle of one, you ride the wave to when things are good again.
What was your first job and how much did you earn?
When I was 12 years old my father asked me to work in his garage. He owns many vintage cars, one of the biggest collections in India. Every summer holiday I would spend one month in the garage and one month travelling. The garage was hot, with many mechanics and carpenters inside. I look back now and I realise how exciting it was. I remember when my car broke down when I was studying in Boston and my friend said 'ring triple A,' but I got out of the car and fixed it myself, and that was all down to the time I spent working at the garage for free.
Who is your business hero?
Every entrepreneur is a hero to me. Richard Branson, Warren Buffett – whoever you take, they are great in their own way. If you could club every entrepreneur into one person, that would be my ultimate business hero.
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