Meet Ravi. He is one of the two founders of mag nation. Much less in the public eye than I am (Sahil), he is every bit a driving force of mag nation as is the guy writing this blog. He also happens to be one of the smartest blokes around.
Ravi is a medical doctor. Moreover, he is a Pathologist. So, when he’s not busy building a retail empire, he diagnoses rare diseases in his spare time, which is a useful skill to have in this industry. Okay, not really.
When he migrated to New Zealand from India, the New Zealand government wouldn’t recognise his qualifications. (Which is pretty crazy stuff when you consider that could have taught many of the local doctors a thing or two about Pathology, having dealt with all sorts of weird diseases during his time on the sub-continent. But, I digress…)
Because he wanted a different life for his family, Ravi left India and gave up years of study and a thriving private practise in the process. Unable to practise medicine in New Zealand and with no non-medical business experience behind him, he bought a small convenience store called Mega Mags in Queen St in Auckland. From there, the mag nation concept was born.
This bloke is a rocket scientist. Genius mind. He is also my uncle. And he is incredibly precious to me. My second child’s middle name is in honour of the guy.
When we began to plan what would later become mag nation, he did everything he could to talk me out of it. He told me that I had a real future in the corporate world, family responsibilities, and that I shouldn’t risk everything on a dream. Only when I proved my stubbornness did he relent and welcome me to his world of being broke.
At 55 years old, Ravi is no spring chicken. In fact, a publisher we often deal with referred to him recently as ‘the Yoda of Magazines’. He is known globally (he has spoken twice at Colophon) and there are few people with more knowledge of magazine retail supply than he has. Yet, he is also remarkably young in his outlook.
For a brand that takes such a different and at times irreverent approach, people are often surprised to find out that neither of the founders are in their 20s.
Virtually all the mags that you see in mag nation are there because Ravi decided that they should be and could be. He is the sort of bloke who can memorise spreadsheets worth of data and regurgitate pricing and margins at a moments notice. He is also the guy who when discussing creating subscription terminals in-store and how to avoid theft of equipment, suggested that we glue the mouse to the table. It took him 30 seconds to realize why the rest of us where wetting our pants. We all have our slips.
More than all else, he is a good bloke. If you are going to bet your entire future on a business, might as well be with someone you trust. There is no blame, recrimination or singular credit amongst the two of us. Though all of this is totally irrelevant to the average customer walking into our stores, I genuinely hope you feel something intangible but special when walking into a mag nation store.
If you do, then you are feeling the presence of the Yoda of Magazines.
(‘Ravi Yoda’ illustration by the inimitable Tyson Savanah from our Elizabeth Street store.)