Reliance Jio is working everyday like a startup, says Akash Ambani

"I really like your company." When an Ambani speaks those words, one is left wondering if it is just a compliment or an offer. 

It is 23-year old Akash Ambani who used these words to greet Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl as they shook hands in a private room where the VIPs assembled for dinner after the awards presentation. 

Could this be Akash's first overture to explore a future mobile commerce alliance between Reliance and India's second largest e-commerce unicorn? 

It was an intriguing question, but not the most persistent one that evening. 

The most common query directed at him and younger sibling Isha was about the timeline of the Jio launch and how the service would be different from those offered by rivals. Akash laughed off the question, turning to Hugo Barra, the Brazilian boss of Chinese mobile handset maker Xiaomi instead for a diplomatic way out. "Hugo has to give me some devices first." 

It was an evening which saw old wealth being perfectly comfortable among the newly wealthy. 

"This is the first time someone is bringing together so many tech-centric companies, entrepreneurs and ideas to a single platform," said Isha after the event. 

"I work in a startup too," quipped Akash. "We may have a few thousand working round the clock, but Jio is evolving every single day...It's not just about mobility but bringing it together with digital, media, cloud services among many other things." 

Flying down just for the gala, the Ambani twins blended in with ease, mingling with maverick entrepreneurs, blue-blooded VCs and Bengaluru's business and social elite. Most have typically seen the siblings in pinstripes or formal attire during their annual photo-op just before RIL's AGM, but this was an evening with a difference — they were at a rare corporate outing, fulfilling their roles as directors of Reliance Jio Infocomm, arguably the biggest bet by their father's Reliance group in recent years. Both have been educated in the United States, Akash at Brown University and Isha at Yale. 

Together, they upped the style quotient — Isha in a gold top, black palazzo and stilettos while Akash looked sharp in a fitted suit, checked shirt with matching pair of grey check socks and brown double monk strap shoes. 

"The spirit of collaboration and learning is very high among both siblings," says D ShivaKumar, Chairman & CEO of Pepsico India, a family friend who was seated next to Isha during the ceremony where they gave away two awards. He had last met the duo over a year ago along with their parents and Sachin Tendulkar in Melbourne at the cricket World Cup finals. Pepsi has been the title sponsor of the IPL. 

The siblings chose to fly out right after the event in their private jet and opted out of the dinner with other guests and award winners. "We have a launch coming up and we need to be home tonight to be able to be in office by morning," said Akash. With a parting line like that, it was tough to hold them back. They do want to answer that obvious question soon.

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