Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mrs.Patricia Narayanan, Founder of Sandeepha Group of Restaurants

Inspiring Personalities :

Today I have read about another inspirational personality in Rediff website. Her name is Mrs.Patricia Narayanan. She started as a woman selling the food items on the road side of Marina Beach , and slowly progressed into getting a Partnership deal from Sangeetha Restaurants, But it was declined by her and she started running her own restaurants by the name “SANDEEPHA RESTAURANT”. Truly Inspiring !!!

Here I start :
She started her career 30 years ago as an entrepreneur, selling eateries from a mobile cart on the Marina beach amidst all odds -- battling a failed marriage, coping with her husband, a multiple addict, and taking care of two kids.

Today, she has overcome the hurdles and owns a chain of restaurants.

An entrepreneur by accident
I was always interested in cooking and passionate about trying out new dishes. But, the thought of becoming a business woman never came to my mind at all as I do not come from a business family. Both my parents were government servants.

But my marriage changed everything. Both the families opposed the marriage vehemently as my husband belonged to the Brahmin community; unfortunately my marriage did not work out as my husband was addicted to alcohol, drugs, etc. I could not bring him out of the addiction. As a young woman, I did not know how to cope with this and I was getting beaten up everyday.

Though my father, a very conservative Christian never forgave me, he gave me refuge when I had nowhere to go. I was thrown out with two very small children. It was a question of survival for me. I knew I should either succumb to the burden or fight; I decided to fight my lonely battle.

I did not want to be a burden on my parents. So, to be economically independent, I could only do what I knew and what I liked. I started making pickles, squashes and jams at home. I just took a couple of hundred rupees from my mother. I sold everything I made in one day and that gave me confidence.

I earned a good income. I invested whatever I earned to make more pickles, squashes and jams. It was quite lucrative in the sense, even ten rupees was a blessing for me.
The first step as an entrepreneur
My father's friend, who was running a school for handicapped children, was handing out mobile carts or kiosks to people who would employ at least two handicapped people. They needed somebody who could run it and I was offered one such cart free. I had to train the handicapped children to make coffee and serve them to customers.

As I lived near the Marina beach, I decided to put the mobile cart at the Anna Square on the Marina beach. I had seen people thronging the beach in the evenings. But I had to make umpteen trips to the Public Works Department and wait for one year to get the permission.

Finally, I started working on June 21, 1982, a day I will never forget. The previous night itself, with the help of the local rickshaw drivers, I had rolled the mobile cart to the beach. It was a small move but thrilling as it was my own and I was going to be a business woman the next day.

While such carts sold only tea and cigarettes, I decided to sell cutlets, samosas, bajjis, fresh juice and coffee and tea. On the first day, I sold only one cup of coffee and that was for fifty paise!

I was very disappointed and came home crying. I told my mother, that I would not like to continue. But my mother consoled me saying, at least you sold one cup of coffee. That's a good sign. You will do well tomorrow. And, she was adamant that I go the next day also.

The next day, I made sold snacks for Rs 600-700 which was big money for me then! As I started making money, I added ice creams, sandwiches, French fries and juices too. I used to keep thinking of adding more items.

I ran it from 1982 to 2003, and the maximum I made from that mobile cart was Rs 25,000 a day. That was during the bandh days! We used to be open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, and later, I started opening from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. for the walkers.

I used to personally stand there and sell all the stuff I made. I never felt scared to stand there late at night. My only thought was to prove myself and move ahead.

There was a fire in me that made me believe that I could be successful without anyone's help. I did not want to be a failure. If you have that fire, nothing in the world can stop you from succeeding.

Offer to run a canteen
On seeing my work at the beach, within a year, the Slum Clearance Board gave me an offer to run the canteen at their office with a proper kitchen. The chairman met me during her morning walk. That is how I got the offer. The canteen was a huge success.

On Wednesdays, it was the public grievance day, so about 3000 people used to come there and I had a roaring business.

I used to get up at 5 a.m. in the morning, make idlis and go to the beach. From 9 a.m. I would be at the canteen. From 3.30 p.m. I would again be at the beach cart and would be there till 11p.m. By then, I had employed people to cook, and clean, and all the cooking was done at the canteen kitchen. My monthly income in those days was around Rs 20,000.

Later, I got an offer to run the Bank of Madurai canteen, I stopped running the canteen at the Slum Clearance Board canteen. At the Bank canteen, I served food to around 300 people daily.

The turning point
One day, after a fight with my husband who used to come to trouble me often, I boarded a bus and travelled till the last stop. I got down and saw the National Port Management training school run by the Central government.

On the spur of the moment, I told the security guard that I wanted to meet the administrative officer. I met him and told him that I was a caterer and that I heard they were looking for a one.

He said, to my surprise that they were indeed looking for one as they had problems with the current contractor. I still believe it was God who took me there.

I got the offer. I had to serve three meals to about 700 students. They gave us quarters to stay. It was a new life for me. I got into the groove in a day. It was successful from day one, and I took care of the canteen till 1998.

My first weekly payment was Rs 80,000. I felt so elated having seen only hundreds and thousands till then. During those times, I was earning almost a lakh a week.

In those days, I wanted to do everything personally as I felt only then, things would run smoothly. Now I know if I train people well, they will do the work the way you want.

Starting restaurants
My connection with restaurants started in 1998 when I met people from the Sangeetha Restaurant group. They offered me a partnership in one of the units. But my son, Praveen Rajkumar wanted me to start my own restaurant and build a brand of ours.

But destiny played truant with me again. I lost my daughter, Pratibha Sandra and son-in-law road accident, a month after their marriage in 2004. It shattered me, and I withdrew from all that I was doing.

Then my son took over and started the first restaurant 'Sandeepha' in my daughter's memory. It took some time for me to come out of the shock and start helping my son in the business. Now, I am fully involved in the business. The fire to succeed has come back to me now.

Ambulance to help the accident victims
I still cannot get over my daughter's death as I did all this for my children; to bring them up and give them a good life.

What shocked me was the way the accident victims were treated by the ambulance operators. When they found that all the four in the car were dead, they said they would not carry dead bodies. Finally, somebody carried all the dead bodies in the boot of a car. When I saw the bodies being taken out of the boot, I broke down.

No mother can bear such a scene. That is when I decided to keep an ambulance on that very spot to help people whether the victims are alive or dead. It is in memory of my daughter.

Ficci entrepreneur of the year award
I started my business with just two people. Now, there are 200 people working for me in my restaurants. My lifestyle has changed too. From travelling in a cycle rickshaw, I moved to auto rickshaws and now I have my own car. From 50 paise a day, my revenue has gone up to Rs 2 lakh a day.

The 'Ficci entrepreneur of the year' award is the culmination of all the hard work I have put in over the last 30 years. It came as a surprise as this is the first time I have received an award.

Till now, I had no time to think of what I was doing. But the award made me look back and relive the days that passed by. Now, my ambition is to build my Sandeepha brand.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

Do not ever compromise on quality. Never lose your self-confidence. Believe in yourself and the product you are making. Third, always stick to what you know. When you employ people, you should know what you ask them to do.

Source : Rediff, etc.,

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mr.Vidyakar - Founder, UDHAVUM KARANGAL

Inspiring Personalities :

Today I am going to share about the person whom I admires most, eventhough I got to know about his personal life, tragedies etc., of late. But He is the one who can be traced as the perfect epitome for Selfless Human Being .. !!! Well,  I am talking about the founder of “UDAVUM KARANGAL” !! Am sure he needs no Introduction, Udhavum Karangal has been doing great work for many years, Many of us know or heard about Udhavum Karangal. But very few of us knows about the man behind this UDHAVUM KARANGAL. He is none other than Mr.Vidyakar. Have read about him in many sites and happy to share with you all about this wonderful personality. Personally, I want to meet him atleast once in my lifetime !

Here I go :

The horrors of childhood such as those of Vidyakar's, may in most cases, be expected to yield a selfish, embittered man. Yet Vidyakar today personifies the power of compassion. His many armed service organisation Udavum Karangal, saves Tamil Nadu from the ignominy of being a heartless state.

Size and scale:

In a mere 18 years, Vidyakar who is not yet fifty, has built a safe haven for 1800 people the society has no time for. Among them are the new born, the sick, the lost, the abandoned, the abused, the crazed and the dying. Even as he struggles to meet the mammoth budget, he does not turn away anyone needing a home. A mere phone call reporting a destitute will have him race to pick up the soul.

He runs a large campus in the outskirts of Chennai to house his flock, in circumstances of peace and cleanliness, that many middle class Indians would envy. He runs a high school that serves his 400 children and the many more from nearby villages. He is planning a 100 bed hospital. Lepers, AIDS victims, the mentally deranged are all to be found among the members of this bachelor's large family. This family gives them identity, love, training and a positive outlook on life. Many have grown and left the family to re-settle on their own in the outer world that was so abrupt with them once.

Who is this man Vidyakar? Is he real?

An accident in Mysore:

He was born in 1953 in Kollegal a village near Mysore. Barely out of his mother's arms, he began to realise the heavy discord between his parents. His first awareness of the world was one of a space where he was not wanted. He was confused as to why he was there. School was a routine he had to go through. Home was a place to endure. With each passing year came the certainty that he was not wanted by his family for reasons he was too young to understand. He spent his time wandering the streets, helping neighbours, looking for anything that would give him relevance.

"Oh, let me not go in to the details. I was a virtual orphan. But one thing I recollect clearly: anyone in trouble in my mohalla and I was right in the middle, helping out!" he says with a wan smile.

One day he witnessed a road accident. The lone passenger in a car was grievously injured. A crowd gathered, the man was rushed to the hospital and the excitement subsided. But Vidyakar followed the ambulance. He was in attendance at the hospital the next couple of weeks, running errands, taking care. The victim was Mr. Ramakrishnan, an auto-parts dealer from Madras, aged about 35. Vidyakar was 13. The year,1967. Despite a language barrier a bond grew between the two that was to last till 1983, when Ramakrishnan died, nursed by Vidyakar.

Relatives soon arrived in Mysore to take Ramakrishnan for further care in Madras. But Vidyakar had had the first scent of love in his life. Within weeks he slipped out of his house, penniless. Riding a train without a ticket, he arrived in Madras. After two weeks of pounding the hungry streets, with sketchy information he found his patron. Ramakrishnan was slightly dazed at first, but soon took him under his wing.

Vidyakar resumed his studies. "I was not a bright student but I was certain what I wanted to do: social service. And Mr.Ramakrishnan indulged me" he says. But Vidyakar is being modest. He has a Masters in psychiatry and sociology. He is a Bachelor in law and a certified counselor. He has also interned 3 years at the Institute of Mental Health and at a leprosy hospital in Chennai.

But it was clear he had no head for business and so was not much help in the shop. The ever-indulgent Ramakrishnan, hung a wry sign at the shop front. 'Udavum Karangal,' it read in Tamil, meaning 'Helping Hands'. Soon Vidyakar had his hands full: typing letters, connecting people with resources, taking charge of distress situations, counseling the angry and the lost.

The baton passes to Prabhu

Let us pause a moment in this incredible story and remember Ramakrishnan. Vidyakar has named practically every structure and service after his patron. But Ramakrishnan was not a wealthy man. He was a middle class Indian in a joint family and taking Vidyakar on cannot have been an easy act. And to encourage this somewhat dreamy boy on his chosen path indicates a great spirit of mind. This is the very stuff of little known India, where unlikely heroes cause great change. This phenomenon must fill every Indian with pride, and hopefully, spur him on to assist.

Back to the story. 1983. Vidyakar, the busy body now has a vast following among the wretched of Aminjikarai, a derelict corner of Chennai. Ramakrishnan is dying of cancer. One late night, an aging cycle rickshaw man brings a babe wrapped in layers of newspaper. He had found it in a cinema hall after the last show. The child was dehydrated and close to death. Can't have been more than 10 months old.

"There was nothing to do but accept charge. I had already moved out of the Ramakrishnan household, as he had got married. I was with the baby in my room in the slum near the shop. I named him 'Prabhu'.Soon began the media attention and an uninvited reputation of one on whom the unwanted may be dumped," he says." And, oh before we go on: Prabhu is today a well adjusted young man in Kolar, re-claimed by his mother!"

Citizens of Chennai will recall how frequently in the eighties, the press reported Vidyakar being loaded with new responsibilities. He has never declined. Sunday evenings were spent by the beach with his wards, to beg for support. Help began to trickle in but responsibilities began to flood too. The AIDS era was dawning. Chennai was growing. Old values were changing. There were more people being sent to the dump heap. Vidyakar became the reluctant messiah.

Fast forward to 'NOW':

As Prabhu began to recover and grow, so did the Vidyakar 'family'. There were soon many wards, young and old filling his tenement to the rafters. And then they were without even the hut: a slum fire put them on the streets.

Ramakrishnan in a dying act funded a move to a rented building nearby. Help has been coming their way steadily. Soon they did not have to beg on the beach. Vidyakar bought a small parcel of land in Tiruverkkadu near Chennai and began to build an integrated campus to house his wards. Over the last decade it has grown to a vast island of peace. There is no need to repeat the details here, as you can read them by clicking on this link to the Udavum Karangal website

But two concluding points need to be made. The first, a features-list of Vidyakar's work. He is funded entirely by voluntary response; no government alms are sought or received. And most of the money is from Indians. His service has no religious slant. His wards are free to follow whatever religion they choose. The management costs are kept very low and frugality is the norm. No idler or undeserving is ever sheltered. The focus is on rehabilitation; either in the family or the society at large. And finally, this is no adoption shop. "They are all my children. I will never give up my responsibility to raise them," says Vidyakar.

The second and concluding point to be made is about the support you can give. For both running the services and completing the ongoing projects, huge sums are needed. But don't take a word of this article. Set aside about 4 hours to visit Udavum Karangal's facilities when you are next in Chennai. More than any visit to any temple of any claim to any transformation, this will reward you. But do be warned: you WILL loosen your purse strings. And discover new emotions.

In the following Link, you can listen to his interview to a website Life Of Excellence :

Here are the Addresses of UDHAVUM KARANGAL. Those who generously wanna contribute something, or do something for the society, you can contact them :

Head Office: Udavum Karangal
Chennai #460, N.S.K. Nagar
Chennai - 600106
Phone: +91-44-2621 6321, 2621 6421, 262 22161
Fax: +91-44-2626 7624
Phone # to call from US: 781 382 0966

Branch Office:
Udavum Karangal
Coimbatore #16 Thandumariamman Koil Street
Near Collectorate
Coimbatore - 641 018
Phone: +91-422-2302030, 2301090

US Chapter
Office: Udavum Karangal of USA
C/o Vedas
23 Crosby Drive
Phone: 781-275-9191 x 125

UK Chapter
14, View Road,
Phone: 774-840-0718

Source :,, , etc.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Inspiring Personalities - Mr.Sathish Babu - Founder Univercell

Inspiring Personalities:

It has been a quite long since I update this blog. Got time to update it now. Today is just gonna share about Mr.Sathish Babu. Many of us know about this UNIVERCELLY renowned entrepreneur..!! Don’t wonder, I’ve spelled it Correctly . He is the founder of UNIVERCELL !!! 
Here I start , thanks to few blogs and sites which made me to get inspired about this personality :
From selling vacuum cleaners as a door to door salesman owning a business selling mobile telephone sets is quite an impressive advance for a young man.D.Sathish Babu not only made that transition a decade ago, but he has firmly established himself as arguably the foremost multi location vendor of mobile telephones of all sizes and brands in India within a decade of launching himself in business.
The tag- line of the company he runs reads Univercell, the Mobile Expert . Anybody who has every shopped for a mobile phone in this part of the world known this is no empty boast
Sathish Babu, a mathematics graduate, began his career as a sales executive with Eureka Forbes where he steadily rose to the post of regional sales manager during nine year tenure. He left the company in 1997 to start his own business venture, bitten by the bug to be “my own boss”.
It was still the early days of the Indian Mobile phone retailing. The industry was highly fragmented and disorganized. Mobile handsets were expensive, the grey market dominated and there were few showrooms around to showcase mobile products
Sathish Babu entered this scene selling postpaid mobile connections as a Skycell teleshop. He soon decided he would provide a nice ambience in which his customers would be able to choose the cellphone instruments they liked in comfort and served well by intelligent, courteous, efficient salespersons.
Using his savings and some capital from the family, Sathish started UniverCell in 2000 in Chennai. Since then, Sathish and Univercell have spun a success story to be the largest mobile phone retailer and among the better known brands in India. Judicious investment in technology and people has seen to that. Statistics are available to show that one out of every handsets sold in the market is from Univercell. Its customer base stands at a vast 5 million, with 100,000 people buying its handsets every month.
From a single store with 32 employees in 2000, Univercell has grown to 170 stores with over 1350 employees across southern India. The company continues to be recognized as the top retailer by all major mobile manufactures and enjoys the best of concessions and incentives. It expects to open 300 stores across India by 2009 and seems will poised to achieve its ambitious target.

Sathish Babu has promoted the brand through every available mass media tool of advertising. Innovative marketing and a consistent presence across media have been the hallmark of Univercell’s journey as far. Celebrity endorsement is for instance a big part of its advertising campaigns with film actor R.Madhavan as its brand ambassador. With effective advertising campaigns and market a promotion, Sathish Babu has made sure that Univercell is well entrenched in the hearts and minds of the buying public all over India. The presence of large retail outlets, print, television, event promotions, billboards and FM radio broadcast, are constant reminders to customers existing and prospective keeping in line with the focus of aggressive expansion, Univercell has started SIS (Shop in Shop) model stress within Music World of RPG group.
Sathish Babu strives to constantly incorporate innovative retailing concepts into his organization. Trying them out first in TamilNadu, Univercell keeps replicating these ideas in the rest of the country. Training and constant motivation are important elements of the organisation’s culture and Sathish Babu’s young (average age staff 24) are known for their job knowledge, high morale articulation and pleasant demeanour.
Univercell has the distinction of being the first mobile phone retailer to provide a warranty on every purchase, keeping in mind the stiff competition the grey market poses. Recently Univercell launched an exclusive MOBILE THEFT and DAMAGE INSURANCE along with Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. to cover all risks not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. It was also the first mobile retailer to implement the touch and feel concept, besides offering several exchange offers.
Sathish Babu and Univercell are determined to go places. They are all set of move into the next phase of expansion. With the Indian cellphone market still quite away from reaching saturation, Univercell’s future looks bright.
Source : muralilistening.blogspot,,