[Interview] Pawan Agrawal of Mumbai Dabbawala: “Passion isin-built”

20th Mar 2012
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YourStory is proud to present a short interview with Dr. Pawan Agrawal of the Mumbai Dabbawala. The Dabbawalas, as they are popularly known, scripted their own history by a showcase of excellence in customer service for 120 years. They have garnered a lot of global attention, including, from noted personalities such as Prince Charles and Richard Branson, Six Sigma and ISO certification, and in the process, have become a case study in Harvard Business School.

Can you tell us three things that led to your logistics success story?

See, the first success story in logistics is the involvement of the feeling of ownership. If you do so, then you can achieve the lowest cost structure. Second, you must consider the time factor. Whatever the supply chain might be, the delivery must be on time. You should look at the resources that are suitable to your product, for your delivery. For example, for these people, the local train is the only source of transport to deliver on time and it has the lowest cost for monthly pass and luggage pass. Third, passion is very important. They are very passionate about what they do.

How do you instill passion and ownership in your employees?

Passion is in-built. So either you find passionate people or inspire people by setting an example yourself. Newcomers automatically adapt to the existing situation at work; when they see passionate people working, they are inspired and try their best to work at the same pace and a similar level.

So as a startup founder, it’s in you to instill that passion?

Absolutely

What plans for Dabbawalas? Any plans of expansion?

No, that would be difficult, because the geographical structure of Mumbai is such that we have straight delivery lines. Second, is the crowded local trains. You don’t see that in other cities, maybe Delhi, yes, but in Mumbai it’s very difficult to even carry a tiffin because of how crowded they are.

What drives you as an entrepreneur?

The feeling that while I live, I must work for the betterment of the country. I must contribute something.

If you have to give three pieces of advice to entrepreneurs, what would they be?

First, is that entrepreneurs should not work only for money. Second, they should focus on customer satisfaction. And third, the services must be delivered consistently throughout the year.

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