Human beings have an urge to venerate the Almighty, to celebrate the small and the big blessings in life and nowhere do we celebrate as much as we do in India. With our multiple religions and multiple Gods it's only to be expected that when it comes down to ritual and protocol, some of us will be stumped. At least I am, when it comes to rituals and rites, I cannot tell my Arrathi from my Shardhanjali. Perhaps with this in mind, in 2008 Hanish V Pherwani decided that he would be the shining light that guides "Okassionz".
As founder and C.E.O. of his company "Okassionz" (pronounced occasions), he hit upon the idea of manufacturing Designer Puja kits.
Starting with a Diwali Puja kit, Vehicle Puja kit, Grih Pravesh kit, Karva Chauth, Ugadi kit, Pongal, Ganesh Chaturthi, Muslim Namaz kit, Rangoli kit, "Okassionz Puja kits" have become an Ethnic Gift everyone would cherish.
Hanish says" Readymade Puja kits have made life much easier for people who are unaware of the Puja items required to perform a Ritual correctly. It is also an ethnic form of gifting to clients/ relatives in festivals. People can easily conduct a Puja with the kit which contains everything from Agarbatti to Ghee, Deepak, Clove Cardamom, Sindoor all 32 items required for the Puja in mind, labeled and packed neatly with high quality material" The kit also contains Puja vidhi on how to perform the Puja so that the hapless worshipper can now have instructions on how to do things the right way.
Okassionz manufactures Customized High quality Puja material gifts packed and Designed to customer needs and contains all the ingredients required for specific Pujas. Their kits are available under two brands:
Swastik & Shraddha. Both are Designer Puja kits. The only difference between the two is that Swastik is a Premium pack & Shraddha is a Retail/Economy pack. Both can be utilized for gifting as well personal purpose.
However not just the common man but also Corporates are buying the kits for gifting purposes. Since the kit can also be customized as per their brand identity & logo they think its worth spending on something that is ethnic and adds a personal touch.
Hanish is also not one to rest on his laurels, and has already charted out a path for growth. The Shraddha pack is being launched for export and for perennial rituals, a Vehicle Puja kit has already been launched & also a Grih Pravesh kit.
With the growing demand in mind Hanish says "We now have got enquires from our present clients for Pongal, Ugadi, Janmashtmi, Chath & Ganesh Chaturti Puja. So basically if we have a look at these festivals they are around in a gap of a month or two. It's in this order, Holi, Ugadi and so on... Holi kit is also there for Colorful celebrations."
It's not much of a guess then to realize that he plans to take Okassionz to a national level.
So where does someone with such a innovative and eye-opening idea find the motivation to shun the normal office job and launch a business of his own. To this he replies "A 9-5 job is not bad because it gives stability. But I never felt passionate about it. There should be some passion in whatever you do. I was working in a call center just to gather funds for this project but that was monotonous. As soon as I got how much I wanted I resigned without any further thoughts because I was passionate about running my own business."
Beginning the business with a seed capital of just 4.5 lacs Hanish is expecting 100% growth with a turnover of 9 lacs in just three months. He is also getting calls for Distributorship of the product from various states. Shraddha Retail pack has also been launched for the mass public. Currently working with his father and two assistants Hanish is going to scale up further this year beginning Diwali production by the month of May.
With any business there are challenges and when one enters a market that is hinged on one's knowledge of the traditional "Okassionz" has also faced a few trials. Hanish recalls the effort it took in delivering 1500 kits in 6 days, which he says was not much of a challenge at all.
"The true Challenge was to implement the idea of "Okassionz", because people were not sure that I would do business in the first year but yes it happened. I didn't have any knowledge about legal aspects also on how to get the Sales Tax Number etc. But I did it on my own."
There are certain pitfalls to being an amateur Entrepreneur. "Okassionz" didn't launch Shraddha pack in the first year but got a lot of enquiries for the economy pack. With that in mind the "Shraddha" pack is already hitting markets. With a certain amount of satisfaction Hanish notes that 9 lacs turnover in just three months without any big advertisement expenditure or PR is itself an achievement for "Okassionz". Add to that, orders from Walmart (Canada) & Piramal Health Care for their customized designs and I do believe that we have a winner here.
So what inspires someone like Hanish and has he ever thought of giving up on his dreams? Hanish replies "Not at all, because I knew the idea would work. I struggled to find products, cut down labour costs, even arranging all 34 items and packaging solutions. The kits that you see are all designed by me. So that also took time, to get the ethnic/ look. I did not get the kits designed by any designer, the Puja vidhi booklet in Hindi is typed by me word by word after learning Hindi typing."
With so much effort and focus on his dreams we at Yourstory asked him how he stays inspired. To this he says he has a vision that the product is needed in the market, provided the marketing should be done well and quality should be maintained.
And as a spot of advice to those who would take the Entrepreneurs leap he says "Yes, lot of times people are afraid to take risks. Needless to say that you require confidence in yourself, but risk taking ability is something that should be there in everybody who looks forward to starting business. . If you can handle it and have faith in your idea / concept, you are surely going to win."
Yourstory wishes Hanish and "Okassionz" the success that they so truly deserve and hope to see them gracing every "Okassion"