Sunday, 22 July 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mr.Karsanbhai Patel - Founder of Nirma Group (Nirma Washing Powder)

Inspiring Personalities:

Today I gonna post about Mr.Karsanbhai Patel, a Low profiled Entrepreneur from Gujarat. His name is not so famous among us, but his Brand Name is  !!!  Can any one forget the ad “Washing Powder Nirma………….” ? Yeap. He is the founder of Nirma Groups..

Born into a farmer family from north Gujarat, Karsanbhai finished his B.Sc. in Chemistry at age 21 and worked as a lab technician, first in the New Cotton Mills, Ahmedabad, of the Lalbhai group and then at the Geology and Mining Department of the state Government.
It was in 1969 that Dr. Karsanbhai Patel started Nirma and went on to create a whole new segment in the Indian domestic detergent market. He has named it as Nirma in Memory of her Daughter Nirupama, who is no more now . During that time the domestic detergent market only had the premium segment and there were very few companies , mainly the MNCs , which were into this business.

Karsanbhai Patel used to make detergent powder in the backyard of his house in Ahmedabad and then carry out door to door selling of his hand made product in his Bi-Cycle. He gave a money back guarantee with every pack that was sold.Karsanbhai Patel managed to offer his detergent powder for Rs. 3 per kg when the cheapest detergent at that time was Rs.13 per kg and so he was able to successfully target the middle and lower middle income segment.

Sabki Pasand Nirma…

Nirma became a huge success and all this was a result of Karsanbhai Patel’s entrepreneurial skills.
Karsanbhai Patel had good knowledge of chemicals and he came up with Nirma detergent which was a result of innovative combination of the important ingredients.Indigenous method was used ,and also the detergent was more environment friendly.

Consumers now had a quality detergent powder , having an affordable price tag.
The process of detergent production was labour intensive and this gave employment to a large number of people.Nirma focused on cost reduction strategies to make a place for itself in the market.Nirma has always been known for offering quality products at afforbable prices and thus creating good value for the consumer’s money.

In the 1980s nirma moved ahead of Surf , a detergent by HLL , to caputre a large market share.Later, Nirma successfully entered in the premium segment of soaps and detergents.Nirma went on to become the largest detergent and the second largest soap company in India.Nirma had more than 35% market share in the detergent segment and around 20 % market share in the toilet soap segment.The company got listed on the stock exchanges in the year 1994.

Nirma adopted backward integration strategy for the regular supply of raw materials,90 % of which they manufacture themselves.Nirma also gave due importance to modernization ,expansion and upgradation of the production facilities.The company also made sure that it uses the latest technology and infrastructure.

As far as Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is concerned, Nirma has made some good efforts by starting Nirma Education & Research Foundation (NERF) in the year 1994 for the purpose of running various educational institutes.Nirma has also set up Nirma labs , which prepares aspiring entrepreneurs to effectively face the different business challenges.Nirma also runs Nirma Memorial Trust ,Nirma Foundation and Chanasma Ruppur Gram Vikas Trust as a part of their effort as a socially responsible corporate citizen.

The company that was started in 1969 with just one man who used to deliver his product from one house to the other,today employs around 14 thousand people .
This is how Forbes Describes about this person Karsanbhai Patel:

“Born into a farmer's family, he made early fortune with detergent brand Nirma, which is one of the top-selling low-priced detergents. His success forced Unilever and Procter & Gamble to launch cheaper clones. Nirma is now one of India's leading consumer and chemical companies; its soaps and detergents sell through two million retail outlets. In 2004, it expanded into pharma by acquiring an IV fluid factory in Ahmedabad. Also acquired U.S.-based Searles Valley Minerals to become one of the top producers of soda ash in the world. His two sons run the business.”

Sources: whitekoundinya.blogspot, frenzyindia.blogspot,

Friday, 20 July 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Techie Brothers – Mr.Kumar Srinivasan, GM-VP Amazon Bangalore & Mr.Kalyan Ram (Kal Ram), CEO of Global Scholar

Inspiring Personalities:

For the past few days, I have been posting/sharing mostly about those Inspiring Personalities who have succeeded without or with less education.Today I gonna share about the Two Techie Brothers born in Mannarkovil (Tirunelveli Dt) who came from the poor background and has stepped onto greater heights because of their education and hard work. They are Mr.Kumar Srinivasan, GM-VP Amazon Bangalore & Mr.Kalyan Ram (Kal Ram), CEO of Global Scholar.

Lets go !!!

From the humble environs of the village in which they were born to the sophisticated corporate world, successfully breaking the shackles of poverty that ruined the mirth of their boyhood, the two brothers – Kumar Srinivasan as the General Manager, Vice President of Technology and Head of Amazon Bangalore Center and Kalyan Raman as the CEO of Global Scholar – today reign the corporate world. The Cost of Being Poor
On Diwali morning in 1987 Kumar Srinivasan woke up just as he did every day. His biggest Diwali gift was waiting for him. “My brother gave me 10 and he was budgeting this for the last 3 months,” recalls Kumar.
With no breakfast, he used to walk 10-12 kms everyday to go to school. Luckily for him, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran had introduced Midday Meal Scheme for school children in the state. “That’s why my mom always voted for MGR’s party,” quips Kumar. While he looked forward to the much-needed meal-sambar bath with a few pieces of carrot and tomato, Kumar would stay back after all students had left to wash the vessels. This would earn him an extra plate of meal, which he promptly packed and brought home. Sometime he would give it to his younger brother in whose school the scheme was yet to be introduced, and sometimes the morsel of food would be lunch for his sister next day. His childhood memories still bear the imprints of a household bonded by the pressures of poverty.
Kumar’s family lived in such abject poverty that they reached a point when they had nothing left in the house that could be sold to meet the next day’s expenses. It was then that his mother decided to sell the only ceiling fan left in the house. Selling the fan would buy them food for another one full week. “The situation was so miserable that I remember my mother selling our stainless steel plates, in which we would eat, for 50 paise,” narrates Kumar.
“I still remember passing down the clothes to my younger brothers. The trousers that the youngest one used to wear to go to school had more white patches on it than its original blue color because of the stitches,” nostalgically says Kumar’s elder brother Kalyan Raman (Kal). His energy and passion are very obvious in his words. And it is this energy and passion that were a common trait amongst all the siblings. He says, “We never felt we were poor. Even though we weren’t all that happy, we were peaceful because we always lived on hope. The beauty of hope is that when you have nothing else left to lean upon, you get used to be peaceful. You wait for miracles to happen. Waiting for miracles helps remain hopeful,” says Kal.
Their mother made a bold call early on saying, “I want every kid to be educated to the best of their abilities. Nobody is going to discontinue education and take a job for a short term gain. If we have to suffer for a few years, so be it.” Many of their relatives thought otherwise. They saw no need for all the kids to go to school. Her stubbornness to send children to school only meant that relatives would stop helping. It didn’t matter much to her.
Later on in life, Kal steps into Anna University. Best students from elite schools across the state used to come there to study, and here was a kid from the village trying to compete with them. “It was not daunting, but it was exciting to me,” says Kal. However, it was not a happy sign to see his classmates coming to college on bicycles, bikes, or cars. Some were wearing double bull shirts and the latest branded jeans or shoes out in the market. Kal couldn’t get the money to buy or do whatever he wanted. “I struggled,” he notes.
While he was in Anna University, like other hostel students, he would need money for his basic expenses. A postman would come to the hostel block during lunch break, sit in a prominent place and read out names of students who had received money orders from their parents. “Senthil…Rs 500; Arasu…Rs 200; Chandra…Rs 1,000; Selvam; and so on.” The students would walk up, collect the money, and tip the postman with Rs 5 or 10, as they pleased. The postman would never ever call out ‘Kalyan Raman’. After the roll call, as the happy students dispersed, the postman would silently walk up to Kal and handover the 2.50 money order his mother would have sent with love. “Receiving such a meager amount would look bad for an engineering student. The postman was so thoughtful that he would not call my name as it would hurt my self respect. Even if I offered 25 paise as a friendly tip he would not accept it,” recalls Kal. The thoughtful postman would only pat on his back and say, “Kalyan, study well.” But the money order his mother sent him reminded Kal of a number of things and kindled his spirits, and perhaps was one of the main reasons behind what Kal has achieved today. With almost zero money, Kal became the biggest defaulter for not paying the mess fees.
 The cook in the kitchen had learnt about Kal’s poor condition. He would say, “I know I am not supposed to give you food but come after everyone is done with.” There were several days when Kal had no food to eat. He would be eagerly waiting to grab food when day scholars at college offered him a portion of the food that they had brought from home. “It was a survival game,” says Kal.
Kal is today the CEO of, which offers an online tutoring platform, where parents and students can safely connect with trusted educators who provide one-on-one tutoring, homework help, or self-paced learning.

Kumar Follows Kal :

Meanwhile Kumar completed his B.Sc. in Physics, and on his brother’s advice he landed in Chennai and joined SSI for Diploma in Computers. He then went to the U.S. to join his brother. He is currently is the General Manager and Vice President responsible for a business unit, while being the head of the India center. However, Kumar doesn’t agree to the fact that he has achieved a lot in a short span of 10 years of his professional life. “Go, look at the Facebook CEO, he is just 23. I am 13 years behind already. Everyday I think I am very much behind and need to catch up with the rest of the world,” he says. In Kumar’s spirit and daring attitude to perform you cannot fail to see a mirror image of Kal.
Kal remarks, as he narrates couplets in Tamil: Kodithu Kodithy Varumai Kodithu Athaninum Kodithu Illamayil Varumai. It says: Poverty is very cruel; more cruel is the poverty in youth. “Poverty and richness can either be a catalyst or could be a burden to get better. It all depends on the mindset. It has everything to do with the fire in the belly or having the wings of fire. There are examples of people getting repressed and depressed by poverty and unable to get anywhere. Willing to do whatever it takes and wanting to prove a point, wanting to make a difference, wanting to be known for something that’s what differentiates. Poverty just pushes the goals farther and makes the struggle to achieve interesting, from the view point of others. It creates its own challenges. I don’t think, it either hurts or helps if the person doesn’t have that fire within him.”
When Kal’s dad passed away, he used to tell his mother, “Don’t worry mother. Some day we (children) will make so much of money that you wouldn’t even know what to do with.” She did believe in his words. “Neither of us had any clue as to how it will come to pass,” quips Kal. And he definitely kept his promise.

Source :,

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mr.V.G.Panneerdas , Founder VGP Groups

My Click
Inspiring Personalities:

Today I am going to post about Mr.Panneerdas. This time it is easy for you all to guess who he is. For those few who couldn’t guess, He is the man behind VGP. Yet another inspiring one.
Source: VGP Website

The Key factor behind the success of VGP is doing things differently. Mr.Panneerdas’s life starts from Labour of Provision store, Coolie,  Tea shop, News Paper Delivery, Fancy Stores and finally to the Proud Owner of VGP Groups !

Here I go :

The Rise of VGP on the Business Horizon is a true story. It is the story of simplicity, but encased with a Great Vision of Daring Dreams and of Indomitable will to succeed and walking the New Path; of dynamism, growth & pinnacle of achievements. The Name VGP is Acronym for its remarkable founder, Mr. V.G. Panneerdas.

VG Panneerdas, was born to poor parents, in a village called Azhagappapuram in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India. Panneerdas, even while going to primary school, did odd jobs during spare hours, like errand boy in a provision store, carrying load on his head, etc.
VG Panneerdas, at the age of 12, quickly gathered his wits and with dreams in his heart and just Rs. 25 in pocket, set out for Chennai, to bail out his family from poverty. V.G. Panneerdas’s rags to riches story is a Profile in Courage, of indomitable Will of dedication, of hard work and of smart thinking and of high ideals and goals he set for himself. Each step he took in his life was a masterstroke on the path of Progress. After reaching Chennai, some of the odd jobs Mr. Panneerdas did was to work in a provision shop, sleeping on gunny bags spread out in the night. Eating and living by frugal means, he saved money to set up a Tea shop with an adjunct Betel nut shop and then took to Newspaper vending, door to door alongwith his younger brother, VG Santhosam.

After doing some odd, difficult jobs in the beginning, in the year 1955 Mr.V.G. Panneerdas, opened his first own shop to sell alarm clocks, watches, wall clocks, etc. He built his enterprise with poise and confidence, with belief and faith in People. He pioneered the idea of “Buy Now, Pay Later” concept.A little later, he added bicycles to his range. He targeted small people like, way side traders, shopkeepers, salaried people, rickshaw pullers, all of whom had a need to own things but could not shell out the cost across the counter. He thought he could give these people products by easy monthly installments.
1964, VGP was well established in business. Now, the thought was to do something different. From being one of the first organized Retailer, VGP opened the first, full fledged three storied VG Panneerdas & Co Consumer Durables, Showroom with all leading products and brands under one roof, at Saidapet. VGP became National bestsellers for Murphy brand radios. They won an all India Campaign Competition by portraying a gypsy couple boarding a flight with Murphy radio in hand. VGP also thought of novel ideas of publicity and promotion by wall paintings on railway walls and other places, painting on overhead tanks and the like. Even today some of these old paintings could be seen.

VGP also specialized in Township evelopment with Modern Layouts. More than conforming to statutory stipulations, they also employed the ÒBuy Now, Pay LaterÓ concept in real estate. Till date, more than 200 Townships have been developed, a record by itself.

Not only in Tamil Nadu, VGP pioneered marketing of real estate through conduct of Exhibitions in large halls and major Hotels in all major cities of India and abroad, like USA, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, Middle East, Hong Kong, Mauritius and so on. The Flavour of Home Soil concept caught on famously with people of Indian origin everywhere.

During one of his trips abroad, VG Panneerdas was fascinated by Disneyland and he wanted to replicate such a tourist marvel with authentic Indian theme.In the year 1975 the "VGP GOLDEN BEACH" was started. The place became an instant hit with visitors. VGP Golden Beach remains a much sought after tourist haunt till today. VGP Golden Beach has been a first of its kind facility, much replicated today, but having a charm, all its own.

The saga of success of VGP continued with the start of Video Vision of India in Bombay, with state of the art equipments, VGP Video Vision, has once again, been a pioneer in duplicating, converting into video format and language dubbing of various Indian films and serials for a grateful Indian market abroad. Transporting Indian Culture was thus achieved with the warmth of emotions and has met with remarkable success.
Doing things differently, doing things for a cause and having a multifaceted approach keep VGP on the move, always. The Group has a load of fresh ideas and plans for the next coming years.

The distinctive Amusement Park wing of the VGP Golden Beach with separate entry, lovely layouts, more exciting rides, food courts, etc. Yet another significant step taken in 2002 was the beginning of conducting international thrill events, for the first time in India, at the VGP Universal Kingdom..
VGP Hollywood Wild West Stunt Show with performers from USA, was launched offering exhilarating entertainment as never before. The show was a sell out success paving the way for more and more of such event shows like Pirates of the Caribbean American Stunt Show in 2003.
Today the legend"VGP" has left a rich legacy, being followed with drive and dynamism by his brothers and sons.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mr.Ramesh Babu, Barber to Owner of RAMESH TOURS & TRAVELS (Bengaluru)

Inspiring Personalities:

Its yet another Inspiring success story. Today I am going to post about Mr.Ramesh Babu ! People of Bengaluru might be aware of him., might have seen him in Barber shop or Hired Cars from him !!! Mr.Ramesh Babu is a poor barber with great attitude and hardwork, he went on to earn Billions with his Car Rental Business “Ramesh Tours & Travels” in Bengaluru .. I have read this article in and worth to share with you all !

Here I start :

Fancy getting your hair styled for only Rs 65 by someone who goes to work at his barber shop in a Rs 3-crore Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost?
Yes, this is the amazing rags-to-riches story of 41-year-old Ramesh Babu who made it big in this cut-throat world all on the dint of his honesty, hard work, humility and some foresight.
Life wasn't always hunky dory for this man. He was only 7 years old when his father, P Gopal, a barber in Bengaluru, died. All he left behind was a barber shop: little did he know that his son would become a billionaire even before he turned 40.
With her husband no more, Ramesh Babu's mother had to work as a cook to help feed her children, get them a semblance of an education and help them have a shot at life.
Since she couldn't run the barber shop, she rented it out for Rs 5 a day.
"We grew up on one meal a day," says Ramesh Babu, in between giving instructions to his staff and answering his mobile phone.
As he grew older, his sense of responsibility tugged at him and he couldn't quite decide if he should study further or start working to support his mother and the family income.
However, upon his mother's insistence, he resolved study up to the pre-university level and then obtained a diploma in electronics. All this while, his father's shop was still being rented out for meagre amounts. He then decided to run it himself and in 1989, he began working at the salon that had first been established by his grandfather.
His barber shop -- Inner Space -- did well enough for him to be able to not just look after his family's needs, but also to save some money.
By 1994, Ramesh had saved enough to buy a Maruti Omni. He bought it for personal use, but it "used to lie idle most of the time" so he decided to put it out on rent.
And that was the seed that later bore fruit and turned into his new company Ramesh Tours and Travels.

Between 1994 and 2004, he bought seven more cars and rented them out too. He ensured that his drivers were well behaved and his clientele happy. Sampath was his first driver and he still works for Ramesh.
Ramesh had a small office till then. In 2004, he decided to enter the luxury car segment. He bought a Mercedes Benz for a cost of Rs 42 lakh (Rs 4.2 million).
He took a loan from the bank for this. "It ran very well because other travel agencies with the same car used old cars. We were the only ones who used a brand new car." From then on, it was a one-way street to success for Ramesh.
He now owns 90 cars in all, most Toyota Innovas. His fleet of cars also includes 27 luxury vehicles: from Mercedes to BMWs to a white Rolls-Royce Ghost. He actually needed a paper and pencil to count the number of cars he owns.
Today, all his cars had gone out on rent. The lowest rent for a car he lets out is Rs 1,000 a day and the most expensive is Rs 50,000 a day (for the Rolls-Royce, of course. You can now roughly calculate his daily income.
His first car -- the Maruti Omni -- is still with him, but it has been 'retired'. He does not rent it out any more.
He has 60 drivers working for him, but you can also rent a car from him and drive it yourself.
At Inner Space, his salon, there are five more people working with him.
From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. he works at his salon, cutting hair. "Today I had three customers," he says happily.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., he works at his car rental office. At 4 p.m., he goes back to his saloon and works there till 7 p.m. Thereafter, he comes back to the rental agency and stays there till 8.30 p.m.
He is happily married and has three kids, all in school. The elder two are girls, the youngest is a son. "I will teach my kids to work in both my businesses," he says.
The man is a shining example of dignity of labour. He is not a member of any club because he "does not have the time".
On Sundays, he works the whole day at the salon as it is the 'rush hour' there. That effectively means he does not have a single weekly holiday.
He still remembers the days when his mom worked as a cook. He still cuts and styles hair so that he never forgets his humble beginnings. He says he never disappoints his customers.
He cuts men's hair for Rs 65 and ladies' hair for Rs 150.
Some of the costs that he incurs in his business include fines. Every month, they visit the traffic police and pay all the fines. The fine is taken out from the concerned driver's salary. He does not like authorities stopping his car anywhere and troubling his customers.
And all this happened just because he could not bear to see his Omni lying idle.
His formula for success is simple, "Hard work and honesty," he says, grinning.
His humility is endearing. Success sits easily on his young shoulders even as he good-naturedly cribs about his drivers giving him all sorts of problems.
He has travelled to Germany as a tourist. He has also been to Singapore to learn how to cut women's hair. He works hard and says being honest is essential for success.

Source :
Amazing !! If any one has met him or knows more about Mr.Ramesh Babu, please feel free to comment !

Monday, 16 July 2012

Inspiring Personality - Ms.Malavika Iyer, Ph.d Student.- An Epitome of Optimistic Thinking

Inspiring Personality:

I must say, This supposed to be the Best Inspirational Story for me !! Really inspired by this girl and her achievements !! She is Malavika Iyer, who has lost both her hands in a Bomb blast some 10 years back I believe. Hope many of us remember that news. She never felt down, she took it as an opportunity and has seen huge success by Scoring 483 out of 500 in her SSLC examination with Centums in Maths & Science, 97 in Social studies, 97 in Hindi & 89 in English !!! She has seen so many successes till then… Presently she is pursuing her Ph.d ! Wonderful achievement and I am sure her story can motivate each and every one of us ! Am really proud to have her Mother “HEMA MALINI” Mam in my friend list !!!

Here is the Background & History behind the success story of Ms.Malavika Iyer which I read from various sites like Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, DNA India etc .

Malvika Iyer, hero … valiant survivor of a grenade blast, of the emotional pain and the incredible physical handicaps that followed. Yet, she believes, “The accident was something that had to happen. But things are not so bad. In fact all is well.”

Malvika was 13 when a grenade exploded in her hands. She lost both hands and was severely injured in her legs.

“My father, a government employee, was posted in Bikaner at that point,” she says. “There was a fire in the ammunition depot nearby and ammo got scattered in the neighbourhood. My sister and I found a hand grenade and brought it home, believing that it was defused. It lay in our garage for nearly a year till the day it exploded as I was looking at it,” narrates Malvika.

“I lost so much blood, the doctors thought I wouldn’t survive. I was in emergency surgery for hours and conscious through it all,” she recalls bravely. When Malvika pulled through, the doctors called it a “miracle”.

Malvika and her sister, along with their mother, returned to Chennai where medical treatment was more advanced and they had greater family support. Malvika was then fitted with prosthetic bio-electric hands, but still couldn’t walk.

She was going to miss an entire year of school and the injuries hurt. “There were days when I felt that I wouldn’t make it and was very sorry for myself. But my mother was a pillar of strength and the spirit of those around me kept me buoyant. I wanted to get back to normal life and took the class10 board exams privately, after missing almost two years of school,” she says.

"May 26 is my rebirth," she says, recalling the incident that happened. Braving the odds, she prepared herself for the SSLC exam at the centre in Shenoy Nagar. "She was sharp and could calculate maths equations in her mind," said A.S. Arul, director, Arul's Coaching Centre. "We gave her special care for two hours daily."

Then she aced the board exams … with a state rank in three subjects! All the praise she received could not fully describe her spunkiness. The success did, however, give a boost to her zeal and courage.

“There was no looking back after that,” she says, “I stood first in the state among private students and was awarded a cash prize of `1 lakh by the then Chief Minister.”

She went on to score 1137 out of 1200 in her 12th Board Examination, with a score of Centum in Commerce !!

Malvika  went on to study economics at St. Stephens, Delhi. She became the NGO coordinator of the Wildlife Society and executive member of the Commonwealth Society.

During the Wildlife Society’s annual festival ‘Prakriti’, she brushed shoulders with self-help groups consisting of underprivileged men, women and children who made articles like jute bags, purses, home décor and greeting cards to earn their livelihood. Malavika ran a campaign to sell their products. In the aftermath of the Tsunami, she donated clothes and medicines to the victims and took part in the peace march in Delhi to protest against the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Malavika’s example teaches us that patience and determination can take you out of the deepest woods. Her missionary zeal, coupled with simplicity and humility, helped her understand the true meaning of life. At such a young age, Malavika’s intention is commendable: she wants to fight for the rights of the oppressed and end the injustices done to the underprivileged. Malavika underlines the basic concept of life — fight and you will survive, surrender and you will be wiped out. All of us would do well to learn that from her. She is currently Pursuing Ph.d and worked as Research Trainee in Scarf India (Schizophrenia – Recovery Study).
“Now my life’s issues are like those of any other 22-year-old. But I find that I inspire people and am able to help them. I want to become a counsellor,” she says.

A dancer and sports enthusiast before the accident, Malvika says after the accident, “it hurt to not be able to pursue any of these passions any more.” But in her positive way, says that there were compensations.

“The accident helped me discover latent talents and enhance those that I was already gifted with. I’ve now discovered poetry. Writing has also helped me make peace with the accident.”

Her constructive attitude to life is incredible. She believes, “If it weren’t for the accident I wouldn’t have returned to Chennai and met so many wonderful people and made such great friends.”

Source : Articles on The Hindu, The Telegraph, Deccan Chronicle, DNA.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Inspiring Personality - Mr.Duraisamy &Mrs. Shanti Duraisamy, Shakthi Masala

Inspiring Personalities::

Yet another inspiring personality and yet another success story with Rs.10,000 Investment !!  Today it is about Mr.Duraisamy & Mrs. Shanthi Duraisamy…!!! People of Erode might have guessed whom I am talking about..! They are the pioneer in Foods products.. Yeah they are the people behind the world famous “SHAKTHI MASALA”. Just read this article in Business Today and worth sharing with u all !!

Here I go :

In Mamarathupalayam, a sleepy little town 10 km from Erode in southern Tamil Nadu, about half a dozen turmeric farmers wait patiently, samples of their produce neatly arranged on sheets of newspaper in front of them. Their name, the name of their village, and the quantity of their produce are displayed next to the little heaps of turmeric. They are at the factory of Sakthi Masala Pvt Ltd, one of the largest producers of branded spices in southern India.

Sakthi does not purchase produce unless a member of the family that owns the company personally inspects and approves it. This takes time, but the farmers do not mind, because they don't need to deal with middlemen, and they get paid directly.

"Almost all our purchases are cleared by family members, to ensure that we buy the best possible inputs so that our products are of impeccable quality," says Santhi Duraisamy, Director, Sakthi Masala, and a driving force behind the company's growth. That is no small task: the company buys 36,000 tonnes of inputs every year. "If you ask me to describe the reason for our success in one word, it is quality," she says.

The rags-to-riches story of Sakthi Masala began in 1975, when Santhi's husband P.C. Duraisamy, then a turmeric trader, decided to venture into the world of branded retail. What began with an investment of Rs 10,000 in a 300 sq ft space today occupies more than 30 acres, employs 1,000 workers, and has a turnover of more than Rs 330 crore. Sakthi makes more than 50 varieties of spice and masala powders, besides pickles, flour, papad and ghee. The company is a leading player in the branded masala segment although its market share is difficult to gauge considering the unorganised nature of the industry.

In its early days, the biggest hurdle the company faced was not competition from multinational companies or established local players. Rather, the challenge was to change age-old cooking practices in Tamil homes. "Women preferred to make the masala powders themselves, as they were particular about taste and quality," says Santhi. "Buying them was unthinkable, and we had to win over the housewives."

While maintaining the quality of the inputs, the company had to continuously innovate its manufacturing processes. "There was no specific machinery for the production of spices and spice blends. Through experience and suitable changes in the process, we were able to produce and package spices and spice mixes that retained the aroma and flavour," she says. "We had to arrive at the perfect blend of tradition and technology." As a result, acceptance increased rapidly, helped by the fact that women have been increasingly taking up jobs outside the home and easy cooking became a way of life.

Today, Sakthi Masala products are available in almost all parts of South India, and in other major cities with a significant South Indian population. The company also exports to Australia, Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and West Asia. The closely held company is cagey about its growth plans. "We want to widen our product range and constantly upgrade our technology" is all Santhi is willing to say.

Source : Business Today

Inspiring Personality - Mr.P.Ponnudurai, Lion Dates

Mr.Ponnudurai (Image Source : Hindu)

Mr. P.Ponnudurai:


Continuing my posts on Inspiring personalities, today I have read an article about Mr.P.Ponnudurai.  Can any one guess who he is? Now comes the clue.

He is the one who gives the Brand Name for Dates.

Now almost every one got it right.

Yeah, this post is about the Man Behind LION DATES - Mr.P.Ponnudurai.

The son of a landless farmer from Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu, who later went to Sri Lanka, Ponnudurai started working in a small provision shop from the  age of 10. When his parents were sent back to India in 1974, the 17-year-old continued working in a provision store in Tiruchi at a monthly salary of Rs 85

“But right from childhood I wanted to have my own business. So I got a bank loan of Rs 4,600 through a lawyer friend and started a small provision store, but with my having no experience, it failed and I was left with a debt of over Rs 4,000.”

He next got a job as a junior assistant in the Collector's office at a salary of Rs 800. To enhance his income he sold Sabina packets. 

Source : Google Images
“One day I saw some dates being sold loose in an unhygienic condition and asked the shopkeeper why could he not package and sell it. To needle me he said, ‘why don't you pack and give it to me.' So I did.”

That gives the birth of Lion Dates;
With his salary and income from sale of Sabina and dates, he soon wiped off his debt. After a while, the sale of dates went up to 500 packets a day; 

“As I did not have a shop, I'd pack dates at home and personally deliver to shops and stores,” recalls Ponnudurai. Gradually he extended his sales to Chennai, being supported by Sabina distributors.

Branding time

Very soon he had to give his product a name.

 “I took just five minutes to do so. I asked myself who is the most powerful being in the world and the answer that came to me was the lion, who is the king of the jungle.” 

As dates too are packed with iron and vitamins, he thought this would be the most appropriate brand name. But he didn't have the money to print labels from Sivakasi. 

“as I'd have to give order for a minimum of 10,000 labels, so I took the lion's picture from a political party's election symbol!”

Slowly he expanded his business to Madurai and Thanjavur and by 1983 his turnover had touched Rs 50,000. The profit margins were good and he started advertising on radio.

For professional help with his ad campaign, in 1992 he got in touch with G.N. Dhinesh Kumar, MD, Saroj Ad Creators, who has now become a close friend and media advisor. Says Kumar: “I told him, why don't you make a TV ad; he was reluctant but I convinced him.”

However, what he failed to do was get his client to change the lion picture on his packets.

“He was very sentimental about it and said the product should not get the label of being too elitist. He wanted to promote dates as a health food for common people.” says Kumar.

Though sceptical about television ads, Ponnudorai gave Kumar a budget of Rs 95,000.

“we began with a 10-seconds spot, he wouldn't agree for even a 20-seconds spot,” recalls Kumar.

But two weeks later the entrepreneur agreed to a 40-seconds spot as he saw the impact on his sales. 

“Now, of course, we've gone up to about 50,000 seconds per week all over India; we have spots in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Oriya and Bengali,” adds Kumar.

The ads target Tamils in Malaysia and Singapore where Lion dates and other products are exported. 

“Even though I don't export to Europe, I've seen Indian and Sri Lankan shops in Europe selling my dates, so they must be smuggled,” smiles Ponnudurai.


Along the way came value addition through seedless dates and he also began importing from Muscat. In 1995 he was invited by a Muscat Government factory that had made a lot of date syrup but did not know how to sell it.

 “I thought if it can be mixed with milk, then it would become a healthy drink… a good tonic for children and adults.”

He personally began to experiment mixing of date syrup with milk at different temperatures. “A few times the milk curdled, or the drink tasted horrible. But then I found that the syrup mixed in lukewarm milk really tastes good.”

The sales of the date syrup picked up but then the Muscat factory closed down in 2000. Luckily he knew a Keralite working there, so after consulting him he put up his own production plant and the product is doing very well. “people like to have date syrup not only with milk but also with idli or dosai,” he says.
Obviously the desi version of crepes with chocolate or strawberry sauce, or pancakes with maple syrup!

Source :
Another Lion product is honey; he first tried to make honey with dates, but that didn't do well. But the shopkeepers said ‘give us plain honey,' and he did, branding it Lion honey.

To continue with the health theme, Ponnudurai started marketing Lion oats. “I import in bulk from Australia and that is doing well. My eldest daughter, who is now in the US, has joined me now and marketing oats was her idea,” he says.

This entrepreneur has put up four factories; “I found it difficult to get labour in Tiruchi so my production centres are in villages around Tiruchi,” he says.
The company employs 600 women in cleaning and seed removing. Ponnudurai explains that in the date business — particularly extraction of seeds — there cannot be too much mechanisation as it is a sticky product and will get stuck in the machine. “This is true even in the Arab countries; all over the world date business requires manual labour.”

The company imports 8,000 tonnes of dates every year and the bulk of it comes from Iraq (through Dubai) and Muscat. “I was the first one to get black dates from Muscat. Then I started importing from Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria. Now I have started importing Jordanian dates; they are very good but very costly at Rs 1,200 a kg. Iraqi dates cost only Rs 100 a kg.”

As other players in the dates business are small, he estimates he has about 80 per cent of the market and thinks he owes his success to “hard work, dedication, and my belief that I should not sell something that is not good for the health of the people. Dates are packed with iron, vitamins and other nutrients that are good for the health of the entire family. Apart from dates, date syrup, honey and oats, we had tamarind too, but I haven't really pushed that product because tamarind can cause stomach pain if consumed in big quantity.”

But more than promoting healthy and nutritious foods, he is proud about being a simple man.

“Some people close to me say I should buy an expensive car. I drive in a Honda City and think the purpose of a car is to reach from point A to point B. I have come up the hard way, so I know the value of money.”

Incidentally the auto rickshaw he bought in 1984 to supply dates is still with him; “I need to remind myself that I once had to drive that auto myself to deliver my products,” he says.

Adds Kumar: “He will part with lakhs of rupees for advertising his products, but will think twice to spend Rs 500 on a shirt!”

Ask him about his long-term vision or goals and the man who doesn't care much about giving interviews — he was a very reluctant applicant for the recent regional awards the CII gave to entrepreneurs — says:

“I don't want to show my face, let my company's face be there; nobody should know who is behind this company.”

His long-term goal for his business is simple; “till you get 100 per cent of the market, there is scope for growth.”

He does not sport the smooth mannerisms of the average corporate don. On the contrary, he is proud about his humble beginnings and talks at length about the English tutor he had to employ, paying him a daily fee of Rs 100 for three years to learn the language, after a petrifying trip to Mumbai in 1992.

“A man who had come to Tiruchi said to expand my business I should enter the Mumbai market. So I went to Mumbai but was too scared to go outside the Hotel as I knew only Tamil. He asked me to take a train to Masjid Bunder and meet a commission agent. Luckily the agent spoke Tamil.”

Not only that, he also ordered from the dates dealer half a tonne of dates, and gave him an advance too!

In three years, he had started importing dates from Muscat and first travelled there in 1995. Now he regularly imports from Iraq (via Dubai), Iran, Muscat, Tunisia, etc.

English language skills might have come to him late in life, but of three daughters, one is a doctor and the other two have done business management courses from London and the US.

Source : The Hindu Business Line,  Sify, Wikipedia, lion dates website, Times of India

Inspiring Personality - Mr.Natarajan , Kovai Pazhamudhir Nilayam

13th July’12::

Kovai Pazhamudir Nilayam maybe a mouthful for anyone outside Tamil Nadu but after you read about this company's trajectory from roadside vendor of fruits to regional retail king, the name just may stick around in your imagination.
The name means 'Orchard of Fruits' and is the first branded retail chain purely for fresh fruits and vegetables in the country.
While other chains such as Reliance and More have posted large losses (Rs 44 crore or Rs 440 million for Reliance, Rs 423 crore or Rs 4.23 billion for Aditya Birla's More), Kovai says that it posted Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million) profit on revenues of Rs 150 crore or Rs 1.5 billion in 2011-2012.
This is a world away from the 25 paise per day that founder Natarajan decided to save, along with his three brothers, for a rosier future in 1953.
Natarajan was 10 at the time, his father had died, and education was jettisoned so they could scrape together a living and survive.
Natarajan and his elder brother Chinnaswamy had recently joined a road side fruit shop, while his younger brother Kandaswamy worked at a petrol station.
"Those were really tough days, without any proper food and shelter," recalls Natarajan, who started his career as a cleaner in the fruit shop.
Twelve years later, in 1965, armed with in-depth knowledge about fruits, "especially procurement" says Natarajan, and fortified by the modest savings that the band of brothers had diligently squirrelled away, Natarajan and his brothers decided to open their own shop -- a 400-square foot establishment in Coimbatore.
"We didn't want to be road side vendors and wanted to do something unique. We wanted to be known as a brand. We knew it was a big risk but we decided to take the plunge," says Natarajan.
Kovai was born.
Being a retail chain that specialises in only fruits or vegetables has its own challenges which are roughly the same today as it was back in the '60s.
One has to compete with carts that come right to your doorstep and sell you products that are invariably cheaper. Indians like to bargain, and Kovai's model back then (and now) was to sell fruits in kilograms (versus in dozens) and that too at a fixed price.
(However, Kovai's large volumes and direct sourcing today actually help keep prices around 10-20 per cent lower than those of hypermarkets and street vendors and where most such chains falter in quality of product, Kovai's is regarded as excellent.)
In this sort of retail model, success hinges on the daily collection -- if the day's business matches the monthly rental, you're in the black.
The brothers, however, were paying Rs 100 as rent, but couldn't make more than Rs 30-35 in sales, which led to further hardship.
"We hardly earned any money and we couldn't support our mother or our younger brother's education, so we decided to join a mill on a shift basis."
Natarajan and his brothers finally realised that their only hope for success was in doing something back then that companies like Airtel have been feverishly pursuing today: Generating 'value added services.'
Besides fruits, the brothers started selling fresh fruit juices as well as sliced fruit in their outlet which allowed them to milk more revenue per kilogram of fruit rather than selling it whole.
The slices and juices were able to garner them a 150 per cent margin.
This proved to be a life-saving strategy and allowed them to slowly consolidate their operations and expand.
Today, Kovai has expanded to 34 outlets, of which 24 are owned and run by Natarajan, while rest are owned and run by his three brothers.
Natarajan has also expanded into vegetables which forms 60 per cent of his business. Saloni Nangia, senior vice president & head, retail & consumer products, Technopak Advisors feels that regional brands like Kovai's are successful because they understand their customer's needs better.
"Also, the needs often change, which regional brands can adapt to faster," he adds.
Kunal Bhaktha, partner, Lastaki Advisors Pvt Ltd, an investment banking company says that another reason for their outsized success is because "the promoters have come from farming community, they know the pulse of the farmers and understand them."
Along the way, Natarajan has also managed to fulfil the quintessential Indian fairy tale -- to educate his son Senthil to the extent that he eventually ended up at Microsoft as a product developer, which he quit six years ago to join the family business.
Now, Senthil is hoping to continue his family's remarkable journey by bringing a little bit of Microsoft to Kovai. 
Technology to manage the business's supply chain is one such thing.
His other initiatives: Importing fruits like Apples, strawberries, and oranges from eight countries including the US, Australia, South Africa, Egypt and New Zealand, making them one of the largest fruit importers in retail; converting vegetable and fruit waste into manure or raw material for farmers in Kerala; launching a chain of juice bars (called Season's, with revenues of Rs 15 crore or Rs 150 million) and foraying into textiles (revenues of Rs 3 crore or Rs 30 million).
Senthil was also the brain behind the expansion of the business, adding 21 stores over a period of six years.
"Now we are planning to add another 50 by 2015 with an investment of Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million).
While the major focus will be in Tamil Nadu, we will also look at Bengaluru, Cochin and Hyderabad," he said.
He is in the process of raising Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) of private equity funding for this purpose.
Still, staying a regional king is one thing and expanding onto the national stage something else entirely.
Becoming a national chain requires deep pockets, a branding exercise with a catchy name (that people can pronounce across the country) and a vast distribution, supply chain and cold chain network.
Not having all the pieces in place could spell disaster as now-extinct retail chain Subhiksha found out and something that the heir to this empire will have to internalise if he wants to continue the magical journey charted by his father.