Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sweet Success Story of Mr.Avinash - Founder "Love for Choco" by Malavikka

Sweet Success Story of 
Mr.Avinash - Founder Love for Choco
By Malavikka Sridharan

It is easy to take up a business. But it demands some qualities to sustain in it. I’m a post graduate journalism student confined to my areas of writing. I hardly knew about business until I happened to interview Avinash Vasanth, the owner of an online chocolate store “Lovefor Choco”.  

First Generation Entrepreneur:

Avinash was an engineering graduate and an enthusiastic entrepreneur. He was not from a family of business people. But there was something that made him different from other engineers. He was not interested in engineering. The idea of being a leader excited him more than computers leading him into employment. He was willing to fail.

Baby Steps into Business:

He started the venture as a student, with an idea to start a journal that featured the events of various colleges. Being an amateur, he and his friends had planned to release just five books for publication until he realized that it doesn’t work that way since publishers order a minimum of 100 books and that each book would cost Rs.150 accounting to an investment of Rs.15,000 per month. Since they were students, they did not have that much of money to invest. Since his home town was Tirupur, a district which is famous for cotton market, he thought to try out his hands on T-Shirt business. With the minimum amount he had in hand, he and his friend bought T-Shirts from there and tried to sell it in Chennai. With the help of his friends, he was able to sell a considerable number in the beginning. But as time passed, he realized that a market needed a bigger circle than just friends and since the orders were in bulk, he could not sell the T-Shirts again to the same set of people. Moreover, he had to concentrate on studies and could not handle this business.

Birth of Love for Choco:

By the end of his final year, he was determined to do something worthwhile that would put him strongly into business. He took a survey from his friends to know if people were in need of anything that was not available in Chennai. A friend of his wanted some exotic chocolates for her friends from Bangalore. Avinash did a research on chocolates and found that it was an innovative idea to supply chocolates for special occasions. This concept was popular in the West but new to India and hence the idea was born for a serious business. But being fresh out of college, he had only his pocket money to spare with which he could not afford to rent or buy a shop.

This gave him the idea to start an online store. But before that he needed to have the necessary products for sale and he had to search for someone who could make chocolates. He flipped through the newspapers, sought the help of his friends and found out an article that had been featured in DC seven years ago about Ms.Chitra, who made quality chocolates. He immediately approached her for help. Initially she was reluctant to accept the offer and claimed that she was no more into that business. But Avinash persuaded her assuring an order of at least 100kg of chocolates per month and offered a trial for one month. She finally agreed to the trial although she was doubtful about how flourishing the business would be. 

Being an engineer himself, with the help of his engineering friends, he designed his own website “Love for Choco”. After one month of marketing through friends and the website, he managed to get orders for 60 kg of chocolates in the second month and this surprised Chitra which made her make chocolates in full fledge for the company.

Free Door Delivery of Chocolates:

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One of the marketing strategies that he used was free home delivery, anywhere within Chennai. As soon as he introduced this scheme, he got an order for Rs.160, outside Thiruvallur, which was 40 Km away from his place. His petrol charges were Rs.300, which was higher than the cost of the order. Still, he was willing to do it for the sake of establishing a relationship with the new customer. Although it was a prescribed criteria mentioned in the site that orders must be placed minimum 24 hours prior the specified time, there were customers who gave a very short notice before their specified time and Avinash obliged them also. Once, there was a corporate order which required the delivery of chocolates in 15 cities. He was promised a 50% payment in prior, but received only 25% of the prior payment. He neither pressurized the financial crunch on his employees nor the customers but managed to pay Chitra and give salary for his employees with his own money and patiently waited for three months until he got the full payment.

The Dedication......

The next month, he met with an accident and was advised by the doctor, to take complete rest for two months. But Avinash did not budge to it, he spite the rains and his health and travelled every day to deliver chocolates. He believed in giving his customers the personal touch with a gesture of sweetness packed along with the chocolates. Even when he issued free chocolates, people were reluctant to taste it for the fear of being poisoned. He had to convince people to choose his brand through it’s design, quality and service. His happiness laid in the delight of his customers.

During Diwali they had lot of orders, but since it was a rainy season, transportation was difficult, the coco powder which was imported didn’t reach on time and he had to face a loss of Rs.50,000. As a leader, he took the blame for the mismanagement and maintained the team spirit by not letting down his colleagues with the blame game. He did a lot of mistakes right from the start of his career and learnt from them. He even announced free supply of chocolates if they were not delivered on time and in a month did eight free deliveries since he could not make it on time. That de-motivated his employees to deliver the goods lately and since then his deliveries have been punctual.

He knew that his relatives would discourage him if he revealed about his venture and kept it to himself for a couple of months. Even his parents knew about it only two months after the business started. Since then they had been supportive to him in his endeavours. Couple of years ago, he started with a capital of Rs.2,000 and now, he gets a turnover of around Rs.3,00,000 per month.

His Other Ventures:

Having achieved this, he wanted to prove himself worthy of his education as well and joined his friend in creating a website that offers IT enabled services. He also partners in a business that requires the supply of dental equipment for colleges and his profits have been used for investment into the three businesses he does, the fact being that he has decided not to take any profits for his personal use until the business booms big time. He has the true spirit of entrepreneurship, he did not do it just for the sake of money, and believed that money will seek him when he sought his passion.

Contact Details of Love for Choco:

Contact Number: 74015 10226 / 74015 10227

About the author (Malavikka Sridharan):

MalavikkaSridharan is an engineering graduate, pursuing her masters in communication. She is an eager writer whose passion lies in poetry, fiction and non-fictional story writing. She has published her writings in newspapers and books. Her style of non-fiction is mostly for children and occasionally for adults. She is presently a intern at The Hindu Business Line. She has interned at The New Indian Express and also explored the styles of writing for a newspaper. Kindled by creative writing by having the privilege of a wonderful library at school, her passion came from various authors like Wordsworth, Conan Doyle and Anna Sewel. Since the emergence of facebook notes, she prefer it more to blogging. You can spot her old works at