Nothing can be done using steel without abrasive products. Wherever steel is used, abrasive products are required for grinding, cutting, sharpening, polishing etc., Apart from these applications abrasive products are used in construction industries and other engineering industries. There are range of abrasive products are available in the market such as Bonded Abrasives, Coated Abrasives, Non Woven Abrasives, Construction Products and Thin Wheels. The products manufactured by startup Visvas Abrasives come under the Thin Wheels segment. The Indian abrasive market potential is about Rs.6000 crore and world market potential is about Rs.1.5 lakh crore; certainly a long way to go for this startup.
After introducing the basic premise of the industry, Praveen Vijayakumar, Founder, Visvas Abrasives, shared his journey with us. As most of the entrepreneur stories, his story was touching as well, “We come from a village located near Dindigul, Tamilnadu. My family struggled even for basic needs during my childhood. My father is an electrician and a seventh standard drop out. He has managed to become a government contractor all by sheer hardwork, and transformed everything within a short span of time. Inspired by my father, I always dreamt of building a world class enterprise since my childhood; the knowledge which I gained from my engineering project coupled with the passion to start something related to chemical engineering processes motivated me to start Visvas Abrasive.”
A Chemical Engineering graduate from Anna University (Chennai), Praveen got an opportunity to do his final year project in the field of manufacturing abrasives. Impressed by the application of abrasives, market potential and passion to do something on his own, Praveen started Visvas Abrasives in January’10 with a loan amount of Rs.25 lakh from IDBI Bank through CGTMSE program.
“We manufacture all kinds of resin bonded abrasive grinding wheels that are widely used in the engineering industries such as power plant equipment manufacturers, automobile industries and foundries. Our products are made up of specially processed raw materials at well monitored process conditions and also comply with the fail safe process equipments. We have an efficient team of marketing professionals and a network of distributors to promote our products all over Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra, Maharastra and Gujarat,” says a proud Praveen.
As the products are industrial consumables and utilized by heavy fabrication industries such as wind-mill manufacturers, boiler and other power plant equipment manufacturers and automobile industries, their customers comprise BHEL, Cethar Ltd, Ashok Leyland, TAFE, Suzlon, Regen, Shriram Power and Gamesa.
“We appoint a stockist and a marketing manager in each state and they in turn appoint dealers all over the state. Our stockist will supply to the dealers and they will supply to the end users. All of our stockists are established players in industrial supply,” adds Praveen.
Startups today face many issues pertaining to the attrition; Praveen has a point to add on that, “I started this company with a team of two people. Totally 36 people are working in our company now. Attrition rate is “0” in our company. Apart from good package we provide, we also ensure quality education to the children of our employees, and 10% of our profit to our employees. 26 people are working in our factory under our Production Manager, Murugesan. Selvaganesh, the GM takes care of our company’s administration and other operations and Hariharan, our Marketing Head is takes care of our marketing team of 6 people.”
“As our competitors are MNCs and their brands are very well established in all markets, we have to put our maximum effort to break their brand value. We are overcoming this by giving quality products, better service and proper pricing. Our products consume 30 – 40% less energy compared to the MNCs’ products. Some customers prefer customized product based on their applications. We can develop the product exclusively for them based on their needs whereas MNCs fail on this front,” says Praveen taking about the competition.
Visvas Abrasives has increased the production capacity to 20 times higher than its production capacity during inception. In the first financial year 2010-11, the firm set the target as Rs.25 lakh and achieved Rs.55 lakh. In the last financial year it set the target as Rs.2 crore and reached Rs.1.76 crore. Praveen adds, “In this financial year we set it has target as Rs.7 crore and it’s expected to reach Rs.4.5 – 5 crore. In next financial year, easily we can reach Rs.12 crore turn over with our existing set up. We are planning to promote our products all over India, Singapore and Vietnam in the near future. We acquired 20% market share in all existing markets in this short span of time. We have a vision to reach Rs.500 crore turn over by the year 2020.”
Praveen received Young Entrepreneur Award in March 2012 from Young Entrepreneur School which is promoted by Tamilnadu Chamber of Commerce. Our company featured in the book Entrepedia under the topic Innovation Pipeline.
No matter what heights he reaches, Praveen is humble by heart. After sharing with us his vision of reaching for the skies, Praveen come back to the earth, only to reveal that he has a great heart for the needy, “I started a foundation called Oviyam in April, 2012 along with my college friends to give education to the poor students. We are contributing some minimum amount every month. We helped 3 students in last academic year and we can help minimum 15 students in the next academic year. If everyone start something like this then we can give education to many students and many people will be benefited,” he says.
Do visit Visvas Abrasives!