Inside Mukesh Bansal & Tata Digital’s rising ambitions

Tata Digital’s investment in CureFit is less about healthcare and more about recruiting a decorated veteran to help it navigate India’s startup ecosystem. In this perplexing deal, both Bansal and Tata Group are marrying their unfulfilled ambitions.

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By 

Aditi Shrivastava

Madhav Chanchani

June 09, 2021

11 Min Read

It is not like the Tata Group, one of the most well-regarded corporate houses in India, to announce a deal before it is formally closed. But it did just that when it declared Tata Digital’s up to $75 million investment in healthcare and fitness startup CureFit. The company says in a statement that it has reached a memorandum of understanding for the investment, the due diligence is yet to be completed, and it still needs to secure a few approvals.

Tata Digital announcement on June 7 :

Tata Digital Limited, a 100% subsidiary of Tata Sons Private Ltd. has entered an Memorandum of Understanding for investing of up to US$75mn in CureFit Healthcare Private Limited (“CureFit”), subject to completion of diligence process and other approvals. CureFit Founder & CEO Mukesh Bansal will join Tata Digital in an executive role as President, Tata Digital Limited. In addition, Mukesh will continue in his leadership role at CureFit.

The push to announce the deal came as Mukesh Bansal, CureFit’s founder and CEO, has been named president at Tata Digital, said three people familiar with the developments. Bansal has already joined Tata Digital and is busy recruiting and evaluating potential acquisitions, they said. 

Tata Group, a relative newcomer to the internet economy, is on an acquisition and investment run, picking up India’s largest e-grocer BigBasket and online pharmacy 1MG, which hasn’t been formally announced yet. But it has quite some distance to cover in terms of stringing its existing brands and new businesses into a super app targeting a $100 billion market.

In Bansal, the conglomerate now has an insider who’s played a key role in the meteoric growth of India’s startup ecosystem as the founder of Myntra and CureFit and as the head of commerce at Flipkart. Having Bansal on board might also come handy if Tata Group decides to raise money for Tata Digital.

“When you cannot find anyone inside the group you need to start looking outside,” said a person closely familiar with the developments. “Bansal is being hired to anchor Tata Group’s ambition in the digital space.”

Bansal will continue to run CureFit independently, just as he did with Myntra after Flipkart acquired what’s grown to be India’s largest online fashion retailer. Except that with CureFit, its business battered by the pandemic, he’s trying to pull off a tough turnaround from an offline fitness center model to a digital fitness brand. 

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