Phenol sales boy turns into philanthropic phenomenon
By Swathi Sriram | Published: 02nd August 2016 05:34 AM |
HYDERABAD: A fugleman of philanthropy, his rags to riches story defines the twists and turns in ones life. From selling phenol to an annual charity of thousands of dollars, Ravinder Thota’s incredible story teaches us lessons in every step. With a “never give up” motto and undeterred ambition, Ravinder narrates his life story from zero to millions.
“I ddi not have footwear until I was in ninth grade”, says Ravinder Thota who has come a long way in his life. “My father passed away when I was three years old and my mother raised me since then. We had small piece of land and my mother and I would do agriculture and survive. Fortunately, I have always believed in education and made sure I would be the topper of our class. So, I continued my education and came to Hyderabad from a small village in Warangal district. My real struggles started after I moved to Hyderabad”, he adds.
This NRI in New Jersey has a Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Agricultural sciences from Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University. “Have you ever heard of the Telugu saying “PhD chesi phenol ammutadu” (He sells phenol despite having a PhD degree), that’s me! Yes, despite of having a doctorate in agricultural sciences, I had no job. By that time, I invested some money in a phenol business started by my friend, which wasn’t doing well. So, to pay my rent and earn bread, I had to sell the cleaning product in hostels, doctors’ offices and other places. But, I never felt guilty because, I was still making money and earning my own bread”, proudly says Ravinder who then worked in couple of Seed companies.
“My life is full of twists and turns. I got married and had a two-year-old son, when we decided to move to the USA. After I came here, I did not know what to do. I saw many people taking trains and going to Wall Street. So, I decided to work for Wall Street and thus wrote exams to be a stockbroker and became one after six months. I started selling stocks and made money and lost money. Everyday was a gamble. I still remember that day when I borrowed some $10,000 from everyone and lost everything in few hours. By that time, my bank balance was in $11,000 deficit. I was sitting in a railways station with zero dollars in my pocket and contemplating suicide. My son was three and that was the exact age when I lost my father. If I die, the struggles of my son would be real. I mustered up courage and somehow made it to my house”, he adds.
“Here I was, with no money, no job and a family to feed. I started working in a motel in night shifts and took IT training during day. I made just enough to barely survive while my wife did the laundry in the motel we were working for. Somehow, I saved some money, took IT training and got myself placed in an IT company in New York City. That was the turning point in my life. Then I invested some money in Real Estate, and also floated my own IT company”.
Today Ravinder owns a multimillion-dollar IT company. “At one point, our annual turnover was $33m. Today, we have many people working for us and I take care of them”. Apart from the IT company, Ravinder also owns many dollar general stores, movie theatres, commercial real estate and so on.
Despite of being a millionaire, Ravinder’s life is simple. “I value every penny and make sure it goes to the right person. I give importance to education. Hence, My wife and I have pledged to sponsor 137 students in two schools being run by Chinna Jiyyar Swamy in Adilabad district”.
Apart from sponsoring the students, Ravinder has also paid money for the higher education of nearly 32 students to pursue MS and MBA in USA. His annual charities are nearly $100,000. Apart from these charities, Ravinder also constructed a Shivalayam in his village as a gratitude to his mother and annually donates clothes and takes care of marriages of girls from his village. “I never step back from donating. It is a blessing. I had nothing in my hand at one point, now I am in a position to give back. Every human being should help others. I firmly believe in that concept”, he says with a smile.
“I am a lighthearted person. I never worry about things and never let things bother me. If you put me in the middle of an ocean, I will look at the peaks of mountain from the deepest point and find a way to climb them, so that I can at least come up and reach shore than drown in the ocean.
My ambitions are always high but my feet are always grounded,” Says Ravinder who loves to watch movies and Telugu serials and swim during his free time.
My son, Abhishek, is 23 years old and resides in Los Angeles. He is also ambitious and wants to pave his own path in Music Industry. My wife, Yashoda, is a homemaker and also takes care of our charity works”, says Ravinder whose advice to youngsters is to give importance to education and aim high. “Honesty, integrity and ambition are essential in life. Never give up”, he concludes.