Battala Munusamy Balakrishna started his career as a car washer at Rs 500 a month. Later, working through a series of field sales jobs, the Hyderabad-based Balakrishna now owns a water treatment equipment company, Aquapot, catering to both the domestic and commercial segments with an annual turnover of Rs 20 crore. The 34-year-old Balakrishna has come far from the days when he had to count every rupee. “If I spent Rs 10 I would calculate that my parents had earned that from selling three litres of milk,” he told The Weekend Leader.
Coming from a poor family in Sankarayalapeta in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Balakrishna studied in the village school. His father was a small farmer and the family also sold milk. In 1998-99, after completing a vocational course in automobile engineering (technical) from a government college in nearby Palamneru, Balakrishna headed to Bangalore with the Rs 1,000 his mother had given him in painstakingly saved ten-rupee notes.
In 2001, Balakrishna joined Margadarsi Motors, an authorized Maruti car showroom as a car washer under his first boss, a 15-year-old boy.
Six months later, Balakrishna applied for the post of a marketing executive in CRI Pumps, which made pumping systems for residential, agriculture, building, water supply, mining and other applications. He joined the company at Rs. 2,000 a month.
From 2003-2008, Balakrishna worked at Point Pumps, a Coimbatore company – again selling pump sets at a monthly pay of Rs 6,000 – and in Ador Welding Ltd, a Mumbai welding products company, where he held a marketing post overseeing the sales for the whole of Andhra Pradesh for Rs 12,000 a month.
By 2008, Balakrishna had collected a wealth of experience, dealing with thousands of people from different parts of the country. He joined Rieco Industries, a manufacturer and supplier of industrial air pollution equipment.
In 2011, on an impulse, Balakrishna dipped into his savings and paid an advance of Rs 1.3 lakh for office space in Hyderbasti in Secundarabad, and had to gear up to pay a monthly rent of Rs 14,000. A childhood friend Naveen suggested the reverse osmosis (RO) based water purification business. Seeing potential in the segment, Balakrishna travelled to Chennai for a water expo to get acquainted with the industry, and then to Salem in Tamil Nadu, where a former colleague from CRI Pumps manufactured domestic ROs. Three days of intensive self-education later, Balakrishna returned to Hyderabad with 20 units of domestic ROs from Salem.
Balakrishna set up his company – Aquapot RO Technolgies – as a sole proprietorship two months after he took over the office space. He started with just Rs two lakh, assembling domestic ROs, buying some parts and having others made to order and customised. Today his staff assembles domestic ROs in three locations in Hyderabad and his team goes onsite to establish commercial plants. The company grew by 25-50 per cent every year.
Now, Balakrishna’s company is giving big players such as Kent, Eureka Forbes, Live Pure and others in the industry a run for their money. Aquapot products are sold in Chennai and Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Nanded in Maharashtra, Hubli and Bengaluru in Karnataka, Tirupati and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, and Hyderabad and its neighbouring districts in Telangana. There are close to 1,500 RO companies in India, with a value of Rs 30,000 crore in market share. Aquapot occupies one of the top 20 slots at present.
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