From almost getting sold to registering 40% YoY growth, how this Pune-based bootstrapped company is taking on the likes of PepsiCo and Coca Cola
In the first two years at his father's company, Vishal Chandra did not even have a desk to work on. Goes to show that not all who join their family business are treated special.
But, today, Vishal is grateful that his father made him learn and motivate himself at every critical stage. Since 2012, he has taken his family business of packaged drinking water manufacturing to new heights. From the delivery of 60 jars of water per day in 2001 to more than 12,000 jars per day in 2016, Pune-based bootstrapped Cool Spring Beverages has attained a CAGR of 40 percent.
Vishal has done his BBA from City University of New York and has worked with Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley, NY. His father, Naresh Chandra, who is the MD of Cool Spring Beverages, wanted to ensure that Vishal learnt everything about the manufacturing process. Vishal used to spend hours with the production team and make 50-60 cold calls a day to get hold of the procurement team as well.
A chartered accountant and serial entrepreneur, Naresh moved to Mumbai from Agra in 1980 and ran a couple of trading and financing companies until the late 1990s. He soon ran into hard times when his thriving business witnessed a significant downfall.
In 2001, Naresh moved to Pune to take over a failing packaged drinking water manufacturing plant, 'Hello' brand of water, in Hadapsar. Naresh and his friend Ramesh Chaudhary spent Rs five lakh each to save the plant and renamed it 'Cool Spring Beverages'. Ramesh later sold his stakes to Naresh and quit the company.
In early 2000, Pune succumbed to the corporate revolution that had taken over the country. Naresh knocked on the door of several corporates but it was very difficult to build trust beyond branded products.
In 2003, Cool Spring got a new lease of life in the form of Madhura Chittar, who brought 16 years of experience in leading multiple functions across industries. Her contribution has further fuelled the growth of the company. She is today VP Operations at the company. Cool Spring became the first company in Pune to receive the IS 14543:2004 certification awarded by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
Kunal Chandra (38), the eldest son of Naresh joined the business in 2007 and started another manufacturing plant in Andheri, Mumbai. Kunal is an MBA from New York Institute of Technology.
A new dawn
Until Vishal (30) took on responsibility, the company for a decade did not have a corporate website in place. Moreover, Cool Spring on 2012 was in the verge of getting sold owing to heavy competition, slowing sales and rate reductions.
Vishal then came to the aid and vowed to preserve the legacy of his family business. Transforming the traditional business into a tech-enabled one was the only viable option for him. Using data, he ensured every piece of information was recorded to serve the clients better. The next logical step was to initiate a pan-India supply model by creating a supply chain network beyond Mumbai and Pune.
Cool Spring Beverages today supplies packaged drinking water to corporates across 14 cities in India, including Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Vizag, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Kochi.
According to some industry estimates, India's packaged bottled water industry is estimated to reach Rs 160 billion in 2018 growing at a CAGR of 22 percent. Bisleri, Coca Cola (Kinley), PepsiCo (Aquafina), Parle (Bailley) are some of the dominant players in this market.
Vishal states that India today is home to 5,000 known drinking water manufacturers. But Cool Spring is the only company that does not operate through the franchise model. Vishal goes to every city, does plant audits, evaluates operations and negotiates pricing to ensure the quality remains the same across India. Cool Spring has two vendors in each city.
The raw water undergoes reverse osmosis filtration and sterilisation using ozone gas and ultra-violet light before it is packaged into jars for delivery. There are check points at every stage of manufacturing that are continuously monitored in order to ensure safe and healthy consumable water. The vehicles are tracked using GPS and an SMS is sent to every client the moment vehicles arrive the vicinity.
With 120 employees and 200 clients, Cool Spring aims to reach 15,000 jars per day by the end of 2016. Client list include the likes of IBM, Concentrix, Capgemini, Accenture, Dell, Mphasis, HSBC, RBS, GlobeOp and Firstsource.
Vishal also plans to develop an employee benefit programme: The Corporate Lounge. The programme will be a one-stop shop for registered corporates and their employees to avail specially curated deals on various products and services. From designers’ apparel, home décor to accessories including essential services like travel, concierge, legal, rental, co-living, insurance, health and beauty will be showcased for the employees.
Going forward, the company also plans to provide corporate catering, tea and coffee vending supplies and corporate gifting services to its clients.