Money & Me: 'Fatherhood completely changed my lifestyle and my attitude to risk'
Businessman and cricket team owner Gaurav Grover says his financial priorities shifted when his son was born
Gaurav Grover is a businessman who splits his time between Sports City in Dubai and New Delhi in India. He has made his fortune across various sectors, including IT services, software development and real estate. A huge cricket fan, last year he bought an Abu Dhabi T10 Cricket League franchise, rebranding the team Deccan Gladiators. Mr Grover, 36, is married and father to a seven-month-old son.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
I was born and brought up in New Delhi with my elder brother and sister, and my father leading the family. We had an upper middle class life, went to one of the best schools in Delhi. My father ran his own printing business for 50 years. He worked hard; that was motivation for us, an inspiration, that money comes from hard, and smart, work. I used to get pocket money, 3,000 Indian rupees (Dh154) a month. Out of that you’d spend on transport, clothing, friends.
After marrying I realised I have responsibility — I can have ups and downs, but my family should be secure.
How much did you earn in your first job?
I just wanted to start working, any kind of job. I didn’t want to waste time on more education at that particular moment. I wanted to earn money straight away, so I started working at a call centre after I left school, aged about 18. Surviving in that particular scenario was difficult as I was the youngest. My first salary was 5,000 rupees, although the first two months they gave a stipend of 2,500 rupees because I was training.
Money was my primary goal and in 2002, 5,000 for an 18-year-old kid was enough. I had daily expenses — transport, phone bills. After two months we started getting incentives. I always set myself targets and, once I’ve achieved them, set new targets.
In five years I was operations manager for the company, but needed to rediscover myself. I started my own business in 2008, selling contractual mobile phones.
What brought you to Dubai?
I came during demonetisation in India, in 2016. I’d been here on vacation. Every time I could see something new. The only thing that’s constant is change. It offered a lot of opportunity. There was no growth happening in my business. I wanted to explore, do something different so I started with import/export, mobile phones from the US, then got into real estate. I invest in luxury properties and I’m working on offering short-term rentals, through my own website; like Airbnb, but these properties will belong to me with a team taking care of them. I’m also into construction in India.
Are you wise with money?
For the last couple of years, yes. When you are an individual, your risk-taking is higher. It's what made me successful. After marrying I realised I have responsibility — I can have ups and downs, but my family should be secure. After the baby … I tend to take much less risk now. As a kid you learn to buy a home or gold; safe bets. I’m focusing on those nowadays. I’ve invested a lot in the UAE, but you should not keep all your eggs in one basket.
So fatherhood influenced your financial outlook?
It completely changes your lifestyle. You work 18 hours a day, but once you have a kid you reduce your working hours. You have to make your vision clearer. Earlier in life, you take so many risks, doing whatever you like from your heart. Now you cannot afford to make the wrong decisions because it's not just your life — people are depending on you to be careful.
Do you not consider buying a cricket team as risky?
Cricket is a religion in our country. You grow up watching legends playing and now they’re playing for you. It’s a proud moment. Most top businessmen in India own a (Indian Premier League) franchise, earning a lot from it. To get into that market, you need to start from somewhere to create a name so we started with 10 over cricket. It’s not a risk, it has a lot of potential. The inclination is towards the game, but this is pure business.
How does it make you money?
This is like a fire now; quick cricket “cricketainment”. The more the league is promoted, big names coming in, hopefully, next year we’ll have more big sponsors. The league is being watched all over the world now.
There’s a franchise cost we have to pay, plus player costs and logistics; you have to fly them here and there is the expense of hotel stays. I have to consider this a business, otherwise I make losses. It is a five-year investment; the planning is done and then you start earning. We can earn a lot out of it.
Do you have a philosophy about money?
We shouldn't chase money; it will come. You have to focus on hard work, how smartly you implement your hard work. There has to be risk taking. It's about taking it the right time — plan it, take the risk and move on. Success will be there. Money … it’s a fuel. It’s not just about earning money, but experience also. I rediscover myself every one or two years. Moving water will not stagnate.
Are you a spender or a saver?
A spender. I believe the more you spend, you earn more. If you don’t have that capacity to spend you cannot earn. You have to keep in mind you are spending well.
Where do you save your money?
In physical gold and fixed deposits in India; as a non-resident Indian you get almost 10 per cent. I earned a lot in cryptocurrency early on and still invest in it. I have an IT company here and in India and believe blockchain technology is the future. I’ve tried many things, also lost money in different businesses, but real estate all over the world or gold … it goes up. I invest in properties because I’m getting fixed income, rental. I check where I am making or losing money with an Excel sheet. I started making these sheets after marrying, to make sure where I'm heading.
What are your luxuries?
Cars. I drive a Porsche Cayenne and Jaguar XJL. I change cars every one-and-a-half years. This is where I lose money, but I’m happy. Sometimes you have to spend on yourself … a reward for hard work.
Do you prefer paying in cash or credit card?
I prefer cash and using your own hard-earned money rather than the bank’s money. I don’t want to miss payments on my credit card.
Do you have any financial regrets?
Never, even if I lose money in business, that’s learning experience. Victory is sweeter after you lose. I learn from my mistakes, learn from victories, and move on. Destiny sometimes changes, but I do not stop.
Do you plan for retirement?
My dad is 75 and still working. This is motivation for me. I don’t have plans for retirement. I don’t want to be a bedridden guy idle the whole day, watching television.
Updated: December 15, 2019 09:51 AM