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June 13, 2013

College dropouts still successful entrepreneurs - PNC Menon


College dropouts still successful entrepreneurs - PNC Menon

The founder of Sobha Group of companies, Mr. Puthan Neduvakkatt Chenthamaraksha Menon is one of the richest non-residential Indians with $1.25 billion of personal assets. He began his career in the latter half of 1970’s by setting up his very own interior decoration firm in the Sultanate of Oman. He has been rightly known as a “first generation entrepreneur” who has been an inspiration to many other fellow Indians with his determination, hard work and high self-confidence.


PNC Menon was born on December 13, 1948, in Vadakkencherry in Palakkad district of Kerala in a wealthy business family. Soon after he moved to Thrissur, as his father had been working there. He completed his schooling in Thrissur, and also enrolled for a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree in Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur. As luck would have it, PNC Menon lost his father at a tender age of 10. Eventually, the business began to be buried in debt as his grandparents were not much educated to cater to the requirements of the business. Besides, his mother was ill and depressed, unable to accept the untimely death of his father. Everything began to go downhill. At a juncture of time, the family was unable to provide for decent dinner on the table. Thus, adversely affected by the financial crunch young PNC Menon dropped out of college.

First Venture:

After dropping out of college, he started his very own interior decoration company; wherein he could be called for designing the interiors of individual houses, offices and small scale industries on the basis of a contract. When asked about, why he wanted to start his own firm; he exclaims that, he never liked working under a captain; he always wanted to be the leader. Like many children hailing from business families, he thought that working under a subordinate was not his cup of tea. Thus, began the setting up of one of the largest groups India had ever witnessed.

Turning Point:

Menon was happy with his interior decoration business, but it could just fulfill his family’s bare essential needs. One day, PNC Menon in the lobby of a hotel in Kochi quite accidentally met Brigadier General Suleiman Al Adawy. The General had been in town for buying a fishing boat, while Menon was in the hotel premises for some other work. They happened to interact with each other, and soon began chattering about the endless opportunities that his land could offer to nurture Menon’s talent. The imprevisible meeting concluded with the gentleman inviting PNC Menon for business to the Sultanate of Oman.

Menon could not turn down the invitation and within 2 months he made his first trip to the Sultanate of Oman, with merely Rs. 50 in his pocket. Filled with confidence and determination, fearless Menon began his second venture. Brig Gen Suleiman Al Adawy and Menon borrowed a sum of 3000 riyals from a bank to invest as an initial capital into the business. The business he started in Oman was similar to the one in Kerala, wherein he would serve as an interior decorator on the basis of small contracts. By now, he had already set his first foot in the International Market.

Though Menon accepts that he witnessed a lot of obstacles on his way, all he says is all that was worth it. He learnt a lot with first hand-experience. For instance, Menon had no professional qualification, had limited funds to invest, there were language barriers; but all this just made him stronger.

After stepping into the Sultanate of Oman, backing out was not an option for Menon. Eventually, with his hard work, firm determination and undeterred faith in god, everything changed for the best. In a mere time of 8 years in Oman, PNC Menon was amongst the top 4 interior designers in Oman. In 1986 his company, The Services and Trader Group of Companies emerged out as the leaders in the industry.

Backward Integration:

Menon says that, probably his is the only company in the history that forged back from architecture into structural engineering. Thus, in 1986, PNC Menon decided to become a full time builder. From building factories, houses to large commercial scale buildings, Menon had conquered it all. The giant leap of backward integration became a huge success.

After establishing a successful firm in Oman, Menon was ready to dive into the sea, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which also turned out to be a huge success.

 Business in India:

Later, his love for his mother land brought him back to India and in 1995 he founded Sobha Developers in Bangalore. Since then, the company has established several turnkey bases, which cover an area of about 1.85 million sq ft. and approximately forty residential projects, which have witnessed path breaking success and were highly profitable.

Personal Life:

PNC Menon is happily married to Ms. Sobha Menon, and has three children. His son Ravi Menon would be presiding over as the Chairman of the group on November 17, 2013. Presently, Ravi is the vice-chairman of the company.

Awards and Achievements:

PNC Menon has been bestowed with many prestigious awards. The most significant ones being the “Lifetime Achievement Award “ by SIM( Society Interiors Magazine) in the year 2006, the “ Global India Splendor Award” in 2007 and the “Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Puruskar-2009” by Ms. Pratibha Patel, the former president of India . Also, he has also been nominated to be a part of Advisory Council for Overseas Indians.

 Towards A better Society:

Sobha Developers has lent a new dimension to the Corporate Social Responsibility Sector with their sincere devotion and genuine concern for the development of Rural India. Gramosabha initiative has also been undertaken by Sobha Developers, under the aegis of Sri Kurumba Temple. Also, several plans have been formulated and implemented for the upliftment and empowerment of the Indian population living below the poverty line by providing quality education, drinking water, sanitation facilities, houses among other basic necessities. Also, Sobha’s Hermitage has been opened for senior citizens, young widows and their children. Recently, Mr. PNC Menon made it to the headlines of every newspaper when he pledged to give away half of his personal wealth to charity.

Tags : PNC Menon, Sobha Group of companies, College dropouts successful, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, sobha group, pnc menon biography

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I have been writing for almost 3 years now for various clients