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Spark Of Corporate

Captain Gopinath

Founder,

Air Deccan

Captain Gopinath

This week we will be getting some inspiration from a person who has made flying simple, or in the words of Gopinath himself "Simplyfly". Yes we are talking about Captain Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath famously known as Captain Gopinath, who made it big with his life.

 

Early Days

Captain Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath (or 'Gopi' to his friends) was born in a Hassan Iyengar family in the remote village of Gorur, Karnataka.

His father was a poor school teacher and a farmer as well. Gopi went to a Kannada-medium school till Class V after which he was selected at the Sainik School in Bijapur which had just been set up to cater to students in Karnataka. There with the help of the headmaster of his school, he first got to know about army and placements in the armed forces.

He decided to take up the job and went to write the examination to join the armed forces.

Incidentally, he failed the first time he appeared for the entrance exam as the paper was in English of which he did not know a word. His headmaster, however, was a very determined man and he wrote to the defense ministry asking them how they hoped to recruit boys from villages in South India if the paper was held in English and not in their mother tongue. He was able to appear again for the exam, this time in Kannada and that's how he got selected. And went on to become Captain Gopinath.

He had spent eight years serving for the country and during his tenure he was placed in all the places around the borders, right from Bangladesh, Himalayas, and Kashmir to Rajasthan; where he served for the country.

Once he was done with his graduation he was appointed as an Officer of the Indian Army.

He has also taken part in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war. But some how the life in military has not convinced him, he was not happy with the basic idea of killing. He always wanted to do something to his village. Apparently, he quit the Army to come back to his village and take up farming.

Thereafter he became a farmer who converted barren land in to proper plantation. He got into sericulture and eco-farming (award winning Seri culturist). Next, he started the Malnad Mobikes (Enfield dealership) and opened a hotel in Hassan.

Although he was making some good money, he was not completely happy with what he is doing; he wanted to make use of his experience in military and then came the idea of starting an aviation unit.

Birth of the Spark

He had set up Deccan Charter, India's first private helicopter charter company which was followed by India's first low-cost airline Air Deccan.

It was not until the year 1995 when the government took measures to improve the aviation sector in India, several rules where relaxed in order to encourage entrepreneurs to invest and explore air transportation. The reforms initiated by the management did see positive results. And many new players started to show a keen interest in this sector; Captain Gopinath was also one among them. It was him and a close friend from the armed services who came together with the idea to start a private commercial helicopter service known as Deccan Aviation. In 1997, the service became operational, while Bangalore became its headquarters. The helicopter service extended to cities like Ahmedabad, Cochin, Delhi, Indore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur and Coochbehar.

This aviation company began with just a single helicopter, but currently boasts of a fleet that commutes across several destinations in the country. In 2003, Captain Gopinath began his first air-craft service known as Air Deccan, this air service was a low-cost brand, and the main aim was to fulfill the common man's dream to fly. Air Deccan was one of the first low-cost services in India and was an instant success but due to the excessive competition from other similar airline carriers.

Beginning with just four flights a day, AIR DECCAN in 2007 flew more than 350 flights daily connecting 65 destinations including hitherto unconnected sectors, across the country. Air Deccan has flown over 11.5 million people since inception. The airline had emerged as the largest people's carrier in a span of 4 years, overtaking the national carrier operating for 55 years.

The Company's overwhelming growth also saw the entry of several other low cost airbuses such as Indigo Airlines, Go Air, Spice Jet and Jet Lite. In 2007, Captain Gopinath was left with no other alternative but to consolidate with the Kingfisher Airlines, the merger earned him substantial profits. Currently Air Deccan is known as Kingfisher Red with Vijay Mallya being the CEO and Chairman.

Meanwhile, the helicopter services exteneted to Sri Lanka in 2004 promoting itself as a major private charter services. The year 2009 saw Captain Gopinath get into the role of a politician when he stood as an independent candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, but failed to gather sufficient support from the general public. On the business front he was also responsible for starting operations for a new freight flight known as Deccan 360.

Coming from a modest background, Captain Gopinath is a multi-faceted personality. He comfortably shifted into different guises: an Army Officer, India's leading business man, an independent political candidate, an eco- friendly farmer and a well known author. With so much diversity to his personality it is no doubt that he is one of the most interesting and distinguished persons that one can come cross. Despite his many roles he is well known as a pioneer of low-cost airlines, a venture capitalist who revolutionized the face of Indian aviation in the country. His book "Simply Fly" sheds light on the remarkable journey of turning his ambitious vision into a successful business story. Unlike other entrepreneurs Captain Gopinath's attempts to inspire young business men in the country have been successful. His phenomenal success in such a short span of time has been rewarded by many well known and prestigious institutions.

Captain Gopinath has been an important face of India aviation; his business ideologies transformed the airline sector into a thriving and profitable sector. Today, an airline is no more restricted to just an elite group of people but has become a affordable and feasible transportation means in the country.

He currently lives in Bangalore with his wife and 2 daughters, Pallavi and Krithika.

Time Line
 
1997: He started Deccan Aviation operations.
2003: He commenced Air Deccan operations.
2004: Deccan Aviation extended to Sri Lanka.
2007: Air Deccan merged with Kingfisher Airlines.
2009: He commenced Deccan 360 and ran for the Lok Sabha elections
More about Mr. Gopinath
 
Country of Citizenship INDIA
Residence Karnataka
Marital status Married
Children Two

Awards and Honors

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1996 - Rolex international award for Enterprise

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2004 - Entrepreneur of the year-National Academy of Management,Entrepreneurship

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2004 - Indomitable spirit of enterprise & outstanding achievements-Ernst & Young India

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2004 - Centennial Excellence Award-Rotary International

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2005 - Best Entrepreneur of the year- Hutti Gold Mines - People's skill foundation

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2005 - Business Leader Award-World HRD Congress

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2005 – Rajyotsava Award (Karnataka)

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2005 - Startup entrepreneur of the year- NITIE - Entrepreneurship Excellence Awards

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2005 - Emerging achiever of India-Rotary Club of Bombay

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2004 -2005 - Galileo Editor's choice award-Express Travel & Tourism

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2006 - Chevalier Legion d'honneur- The French Republic

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2006 - Sir M Visvesvaraya Memorial Award- FKCCI

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2007 - Laureate Award for contribution in the “commercial air transport segment”-Aviation Week

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2007 - Frost & Sullivan award for the ‘CEO of the Year’-Frost & Sullivan

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2006 & 2007 - India’s Best Domestic Low Cost CarrierGalileo Express TravelWorld Award

Hope viewers caught up the spark..

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  • Michael Bloomberg
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  • AKIO TOYODA
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  • Toney Bates
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  • John. H Hammergren
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  • Mary Barra
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  • Michael Andrew
  • Dennis M Nally
  • Lloyd Craig Blankfein
  • Jamie Dimon
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Barry Salzberg
  • Mindy Grossman
  • John Chambers
  • Sherilyn S. McCoy
  • Paul E. Jacobs




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