In 1945, Western India Palm Refined Oils was founded in the city of Amalner in the state of Maharashtra by a man named Mr. Premji.
The company produced a popular brand of sunflower oil amongst other vegetable based products. For the next twenty years, it continued to do just that and made solid returns.
But selling vegetables will only get you so far.
Fortunately for the company, an entrepreneurially minded employee had ambitions beyond what had started out as little more than a market stall.
Mr. Premji’s son Azim, fresh from his stint at Stanford, recognised that if the company was to reach its full potential it would need to radically alter its approach.
Enthused by the rising importance of computers in the information age, Azim convinced the company to enter the IT products business in 1982.
It was an inspired strategic move.
Over the next ten years, the company grew substantially in size. It’s turnover and profits soon, by many multiples, dwarfed the amount the family business had made from selling vegetables.
Fast forward to the present day and Azim is currently the second wealthiest person in India with a fortune estimated at around $20 billion.
What would the company’s future have looked like if Azim hadn’t made this momentous decision?
One of the greatest talents of an intrapreneur is their ability to think ‘outside the box’.
Radical changes are often the only way for companies to grow beyond a certain point.
Branching out into IT at a time when it was a nascent business category must have seemed like madness at the time.
Who knew that WIPRO (now one of the world’s largest IT companies) originally started out as Western India Palm Refined Oils?