At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.
And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.
The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.
Entrepreneur, CEO, Angel Investor, world traveller, fitness enthusiast, home brewer, avid beer drinker—say hello to Naresh Malhotra, our Kudix Mug Holder of the month, and a man who redefines the entire notion of ageing.
We ask this of every Mug Holder—why do you think you were chosen?
*laughs* How do I know that? Well, I come here very often. That maybe one of the reasons.
I know most of the guys here, so that could be another reason.
And also because of that gift my son bought.
That we will get to shortly. What an amazing birthday gift.
Yes! So, maybe one of those reasons—or all of them.
Probably! Are you from Bangalore?
I’ve been here for many years now.
I moved here in 1986 and set up home here. I came from overseas and my children, I have two boys, they were small at that time, 6 and 4 years old. They’re big boys now!
I came back and started working with UB, and I did that for six and half years.
Then I left them and joined KPMG. They were starting off at that time.
I was the Managing Partner for South India. I left them after six and a half years too.
And then I was with Coffee Day. I was the CEO for about seven years.
I see a pattern here!
Yeah. I figured that six-seven years is the right amount of time to give up whatever you can contribute best to the company and then move on.
And after that, I start getting bored also. I look for new challenges and things to do.
After Coffee Day, I thought I’d retire. I was 60 then. But then I realised I wasn’t ready to retire so I joined a Capital firm as a partner, was with them for four years, and again said I’d retire.
But then I started doing medical clinics. So, everything is always totally different from what I was doing before because that’s where the challenge is.
Apart from that, I also do a lot of angel investing. I invest in a lot of startups.
I don’t think I’ll ever retire. When you say retire, it usually means doing nothing. I don’t think I’m the sort of person who can do nothing.
I have a pretty full lifestyle I think.
People ask me when I’m going to take it easy. I say, when I die, I’ll take it easy.
Why not make the most of what you’ve got?
Has beer always been a part of your life?
Let me tell you.
I don’t drink most of the forms of alcohol. I only drink beer.
I’m a beer person. It’s not that I don’t touch whiskey or wine. I like a good wine too.
But I very rarely drink any other hard liquor. Beer, or sometimes wine if there is a really good one.
Toit was one of the first to open in Bangalore and it was obviously an attraction. I live not even five minutes from here. That makes a lot of difference, because sometimes I can just walk down.
I drink beer everyday, but I’m not addicted to it. I’ll have a glass or maybe two glasses at most. It doesn’t matter whether I’m here or at home.
We, as a family, also tend to make some beer at home, which is very good. And we all chip in.
How long have you been home brewing?
Few years now. It’s not just me. My boys and wife help out, and we do it more as a family hobby. And I must say we make pretty good beer.
Do all of you enjoy drinking beer? The whole family?
And do you have a favourite type?
I like hoppy beers. I don’t like sweet beers, to be frank. Neither do I like too much flavour. But I like the hoppiness. So, slightly bitter, not sweet types of beers. IPAs and Double IPAs.
I travel a lot, almost four to five times overseas every year, maybe twice a month within India, and wherever I go, I drink the local beer.
Where have you had the best beer so far in all your travels?
That’s really difficult. Because beer is not only about the taste but also your mood at that time and how you feel.
But if I were to rate country wise, I would say Belgian beers are very good.
Indian beers are very good too. I think if you compare internationally, Toit will come pretty close up on top. The beers here are very good. I prefer them to even the beers I have in London. I don’t know what it is, but I find them far better.
There are some microbreweries apart from Toit that serve really good beer too.
Do you still go to office?
Yeah yeah, of course! I go everyday!
I’m out by 9 am, sometimes even by 7:30 am.
Wow. That’s early.
Yeah. But I don’t mind. Hard work hasn’t killed anyone. I think not working kills people.
Do your sons also stay in Bangalore?
My elder boy stays in Bangalore, and the younger one stays in Chicago.
The younger one is a surgeon and the older one is an investment banker.
They’ve also travelled and studied abroad, so they’re good beer drinkers too. So is my wife!
In all the times you’ve come here, as a family or otherwise, is there any particular memory that stands out?
I think the Sundays when they have a band here is good. I try to come on those Sundays if I’m in town.
They also had my birthday here last month.
That was your 70th birthday, yes?
Yes! That was fun. I had my close friends, not too many. We come here often together.
I really can’t think of one memorable thing. Most of my days here are memorable. I like the ambiance and there’s a certain energy in the place that makes it likeable.
Let me put it this way—I’ve never had a disappointing day here.
Fair enough. So tell us about this amazing birthday gift your sons gave you.
I didn’t know such a thing existed also.
So I get to drink beer for a whole year, for free. I mean, as much as I want. They bought me beers for 365 days of the year. I can’t come everyday, so I don’t know how that’ll work out. *laughs*
The good thing is I can bring my friends too and they can also drink. Not only me. It included a brewery tour too, and a whole bunch of things.
I don’t know who put it together, but whoever did, it was a great gift and surprisingly different.
For someone who is always doing something different and challenging, at your age, do you get a lot of people who think you’re too old for this?
A lot of people come to me for advice. As I said, I fund startups. I had about 16 companies, and I’ve exited 4, so I’ve still got 12.
Of course, some investments are large, some are small, different amounts. And there are some very good companies too.
The ones that aren’t doing too well, I get to spend more time with them and see how I can help with their problems, if they have any.
The companies vary from medical equipment to a brewery. I’ve invested in one in Bombay.
It might be a company in Singapore or one in Bangalore or California too.
They’re all over the place and it’s good fun because I travel to these places often.
Does it get stressful?
No. I don’t think it is. It only becomes stressful if you’re going to lose a lot of money. I had put aside some money for this, and I’ve made many times that already. And I still have 12 companies. I enjoy it and I look forward to it.
I’m still investing, but now I’m looking more at exits than fresh investments because I started off about 15 years ago and that was a good time to start.
People half your age or younger are having problems today—burning out, not being able to start over, or who are fixated on holding onto one job for fear of not finding another good one.
Are you the example of it’s never too late to start something?
I started something even a year ago.
I think the reason for that is that younger people now have different pressures.
In the sense that there is a lot happening on the internet and most young people are connected all the time.
I don’t subscribe to Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Facebook. Because in any case, I get about 60-70 mails in a day, and my philosophy is that if I start doing all that also, I’ll be doing nothing else. I spend a lot of time travelling, at least 10 days per month on an average.
When I’m here, I do a lot of physical activity to keep myself fit.
I have a trainer who comes home twice a week, I have a yoga instructor who comes thrice a week, and I play golf at least thrice a week. In between, I go for walks and jogs at least two or three times a week.
And then there are the board meetings that I attend. So it’s quite full.
I don’t have any tensions. I go to bed at 11:00 pm and I’m up at 5:30-6:00 am everyday. And I sleep, touchwood, beautifully. I don’t have any problems or issues.
The thing is, you’ve got to shut your mind out and get into bed. You get home, and you need to switch off.
Is that the problem for the younger generation? An inability to switch off?
Yeah, because they’re connected all the time!
If your phone pings, and there’s a message at 11 in the night, you want to read it and reply to it, and your brain gets ticking. You don’t relax.
I very rarely look at my mail after 6:30-7:00 pm. Unless someone calls up and says it’s something very urgent. People who know me do that.
Otherwise I can just look at it tomorrow. Nothing great is going to happen overnight.
Emergencies are the only exceptions, but that’s very rare.
Also, doing a lot of physical activity is also very important.
What’s next for you?
I do have a plan, but it’s a loose plan. Not something which is cast in stone.
For instance, next month I’m going for a holiday with my children in Italy and Portugal.
We do a lot of things as a family together, and we hope to do more of that.
I do look at small business opportunities, to help people for instance. A lot of young people want to start something and sometimes I have to tell them I don’t think this is going to work. I’m very frank.
But since they’ve come to me, I don’t mind helping. So I give them some money, they go and try it out. I tell them about the pitfalls but if they’re passionate about it, I don’t want to disappoint them. Take some money, try it out, but if it doesn’t work, don’t be overtly disappointed because it’s part of the learning curve.
I enjoy meeting younger people who have weird and creative ideas.
What’s the weirdest idea someone has come to you with?
I think what is important is that people must pursue their passion. But they must also look at whether it’ll make them money. Because at the end of the day, you’ve got to make some money, no? Can’t live on just fresh air and passion.
What people most often don’t see is that a great product might not always have a market. It has to be a large market, because you’re not the only player.
Everyone has ideas and passion. So, how are you going to execute your ideas?
That’s the problem.
The best idea in the world is not worth anything if you can’t execute it.
People have come to me for everything from fitness studios to movies. I’ve invested in some of them.
The only thing I haven’t done is invest in a movie. So, I’m thinking of doing that.
And will you make a Stan Lee like cameo in the movie?
No, no! Not up for that. But I think it’ll be fun to make a movie. The idea is to have fun, because if you don’t have fun you’ll never be good at it.
A movie is about the only thing I haven’t done. So, why not do that also?