Sky, Fire & Earth

A surreal evening with Meena Ganesh, Ganesh Krishnan & Subroto Bagchi

Samparna Tripathy
3 min readOct 19, 2019

Underneath the clear autumn skies in Bhubaneswar huddled a motley group of people. Entrepreneurs, artists, bureaucrats & politicians sat on the steps of the amphitheater at Kalabhoomi. The congregation around a symbolic fire without any premium seat division set the tone of that evening. That all of us are a part of one big tribe who come together to share stories. To learn from each other and have our feet grounded at all times.

Fireside Chat with Ganesh Krishnan, Subroto Bagchi & Meena Ganesh (from left to right)

“You have to spot the opportunity early”, candidly confessed Ganesh Krishnan. It’s a reasonable guess that the man instrumental in driving the growth of companies such as Big Basket & Bluestone was referring to his secret sauce of success. And that’s where he caught you off guard with his whacky sense of humor. Ganesh was actually referring to the moment he laid his eyes on his partner, Meena. It was the day in 1983 when India lifted the World Cup. And Ganesh had earned a prize for life.

Draped in a humble orange saree, Meena captured our imagination with her simplicity & zest for life. Her personal tryst with a broken healthcare system that failed her father inspired her to start Portea Medical. She committed to the cause of setting the benchmark for trust in post-operative care, chronic disease management and stabilization of health of the elderly. Her anecdotes on pushing boundaries of job descriptions and sharing failures to conserve mental strength resonated with the eclectic audience gathered around.

Often traveling on rail from Howrah to Chennai, Meena would peek out of the window to spot the lagoon of Chilika. As she set foot in Odisha for the first time, she felt overwhelmed with the warmth of its people coming together to showcase the beauty of their land. That’s Meena. We could reach out to her since she opened her heart to us. With grace. And one big smile.

Ganesh and Meena reinforced the need for building a support network before embarking on the exciting but challenging journey of entrepreneurship. “Find someone to place your trust in. Get an education to fall back on. With a safety net in place, you will be better equipped to run the full marathon and solve a real problem sustainably.”

A candid but precious moment of the joy of listening to stories captured on camera

Lauding the entrepreneurial ecosystem & professionalism in Odisha, Ganesh remarked that the State is quite close to achieving the critical mass, beyond which lies exponential growth. Citing the example of Cardekho, a startup success story from Jaipur, Ganesh mentioned that the current democratization of the playing field allows entrepreneurs to run operations from almost anywhere. With the cost of running business rising exponentially in tier 1 cities, the time has come to focus on ideas in tier 2 & 3 markets.

To build on this opportunity, the time has come for Odisha to celebrate its role models & success stories more vocally. Something that has been constantly espoused by the moderator of the evening, our very own Subroto Bagchi. The customary Skilled in Odisha tee that he wears with much elan is a testament to the kind of pride we need to have in the impact we create. Quoting Bagchi, we owe our existence to “human transformation”. So think big & then execute.

“Fail, but fail spectacularly”.