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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Just Dial founder shrugs off rich IPO haul

Manu P Toms, Hindustan Times   Mumbai, May 23, 2013
First Published: 21:30 IST(23/5/2013) | Last Updated: 02:56 IST(24/5/2013)

India’s latest IPO multi-millionaire can break into a Hindi film song anytime, and prefers jeans and T-shirt to the blue suits that go with the corner office.

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"It is paper wealth. I don't feel great about it," VSS Mani, the 47-year-old founder and CEO of Just Dial said after his search service company that thrives on providing Internet and phone -call based sales leads had a blockbuster share issue.

His net worth exceeded R1,200 crore after the initial public offer (IPO) was subscribed by 12 times.

“It doesn’t mean much to me except the pride that I have given liquidity to my investors and created wealth for our employees,” Mani said.

He charged kids in his lower middle class neighbourhood in Kolkata for video shows. But he insists his entry into business was accidental.

As the eldest child of his humble family, he had to abandon his chartered accountant's course to take up a sales job in a yellow pages publication. An idea was born when a businessman asked him: "Why can't we do this on the phone?" -and provided funds.

Ask Me, the first such venture did not succeed in the 1980s when only 1 in 100 Indians used a telephone. Mani walked out of the Delhi venture after handing over shares to his partners, and started afresh in the 1990s in Mumbai to re-enter the business. The rest is history.


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