I was shocked to hear from a common friend that Nitish Tipnis passed away on the 4th of September 2018, in the evening, at the gym, due to a sudden cardiac arrest. I am still finding it difficult to believe. That very same day he had wished one of our friends 'Happy Birthday' on our WhatsApp group. Life and death are so unpredictable, so close to each other!
Nitish started his career at Nerolac Paints which is just 200 metres from my current house. He used to share his 'first job' stories whenever he was in my building. Nitish moved on to join Videocon which became the longest stint of his career and motivated him to become an entrepreneur very early in his career. He set up Plugin Sales, which was India's first 'corporatised' durables retail chain for consumer electronics and appliances. Post that he moved on to set up the consumer durables, IT and telecom businesses for Reliance Retail, which he built from the ground up to a US$2Bn sales biz in five years.
He also did a similar stint at Future Group to build their E-Zone business. He did two terms with Hover Automotive as director marketing and sales - managing the marketing, sales, network development and after-sales business for Nissan passenger cars.
He also spent his last few years at Hover and ensured the litigation with Nissan was brought to a conclusion. He was one of the finest sales and marketing minds I have ever met. Everyone I met was always all praises for him, including his team members who said he was a fantastic boss to work with; an amazing team leader who always gave everybody their space. Overall, a fantastic human being and a friend that one would cherish in office.
Nitish was an entrepreneur from his heart and soul. He loved to build businesses from scratch and that's probably why we connected well. These last few months he was busy building an AI-based fashion startup. He had also created a forum for fashion called 'Who needs fashion' - a fun-filled and interactive discussion platform where you can answer questions on fashion and style, in a community. He had a great fashion sense. A stylish man with great taste for watches and clothes, he had a penchant for shopping in London. He wanted to build his venture on his passion - 'fashion'.
As we both worked for Reliance and had many common friends, we first met at one of the panel discussions at an event around 10 years back. Nitish was not just another person one meets in most of these conferences. He was a great orator, speaker and a brilliant moderator. His deep baritone voice, charismatic style, warm personality and easy-going nature caught my attention. That started our friendship journey as we both kept attending panels, meets, conferences, digital marketing forums, thanks to IAMAI, Adtech, iMedia, exchange4media, afaqs, etc.
Like me, he was outspoken and loved calling a spade a spade, and soon we formed a group with a few other like minded CXOs who can speak their mind and are not afraid of the consequences. That started a deep friendship among our group members and we started meeting socially almost every month, apart from formal marketing events. Nitish was a wordsmith and had a great sense of humour as evidenced by the laughs he generated at parties and get-togethers. I would like to share one of his last public tweets here:
He was a great friend and had an innate ability to blend with people irrespective of their professional levels and backgrounds. He had a zest to learn and was never afraid of starting all over again. He was a keen listener and was empathetic; he always made others feel comfortable.
I have extremely fond memories of chatting with him as he sipped on his Earl Grey Tea and gave me his complete attention. Personally, he was a close friend with whom I was comfortable discussing both ideas and fears. He was a friend whom you went back to during difficult times to keep your spirit high. He calmed you with his advice and his wit. Nitish was also highly spiritual and a Satya Sai Baba devotee; perhaps that's why I have never seen him getting easily perturbed. He always shared positive energy and was full of enthusiasm.
My mind is still searching for an answer to the unanswerable question -Why? As they say, 'Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget'. We are never ready to say goodbye forever even though we know it is a part of life. Today my heart is heavy for losing someone so special, but as I mourn his death, I will also celebrate his life.
A keen golfer, a generous man, friend, father, husband, and guru; may God give enough strength to his family to bear the irreplaceable loss.
Nitish Tipnis... Rest in Peace.
(Sanjay Tripathy is co-founder and CEO, Agilio Labs, a startup incubator; advisor, IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India); and SHEROES).
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