It was almost as if Mangesh Survase had his fate etched in stone even before he was born. As a misfit child in a modest family of barbers in Barshi, a small hamlet in Maharashtra, he would have been a slave to circumstances had he lacked the audacity to chase his dreams. The family business was a modest barber shop owned and run by his father, earning the household Rs 400 a month. And his father had dreamed his dreams for him — that Mangesh would someday make it big, albeit in their business. It was against this backdrop that this college-dropout-turned-runaway-rebel turned a Rs 600 saving into Rs 40 lakh in revenue.
Country roads, leading away from homes
For 27-year-old Mangesh Survase, then a spirited teenager, these scripted routes to what seemed like a predestined aim weren’t palatable. Thus, he found himself constantly skirting the norms — ending up at the end of the cane for his poor academic aptitude, and falling into “bad company” that distracted him further until he dropped out of college in the 12th grade.
His father took one last swing at laying down the law by compelling Mangesh to work at their barber shop, considering that all able hands needed to be employed in order to survive the financial abyss the family was staring into. However, this move didn’t sit well with the stubborn visionary. Naturally unmotivated, it wasn’t long before his father dismissed him, not only from the business, but also from their lives.
Dejected yet oddly liberated, Mangesh left Barshi behind and meandered over to Pune, a whole 200 km away from all that was familiar to him. “My uncle came through, to prevent me from hitting rock bottom. He too was a barber — but this time, I had a plan,” says Mangesh.
To earn his daily livelihood, he spent his entire day in his uncle’s shop as an errand boy, scrubbing floors and washing clothes for 17 hours and Rs 20 a day. But when you’re sprawled on the floor, there’s nowhere else to look but up, quite literally in this case, as Mangesh picked up the basic techniques of hair cutting by observing his owner. It was in his blood, and he knew he was interested the more he observed. "I wanted to pursue this newfound interest further, so I decided to get some formal training,” he says.
With the Rs 15,000 he had saved, he looked westward to the Mumbai life that beckoned. He decided to learn advanced hair cutting techniques at Javed Habib’s Hair Salon Academy in Mumbai, and aced a three-month programme in a month and a half. He also worked part-time at various hair salons in Mumbai, earning Rs 20,000 a month to sustain a life in maximum city, but even his rigorous hair-cutting wouldn’t quite cut it. So, during the daytime, he would learn the tricks of the trade in the academy, and come nightfall, he would rough it out in a friend’s garage to save the cost of accommodation.
His passion did not go unnoticed. Not only was he absorbed into the academy for a full-time job, he was also selected for Tony & Guy’s Singapore-based advanced hair-dressing programme, effectively clocking seven years in the hair-dressing industry. But his stint taught him more than just the skill required for hairdressing — he also came to learn the value in it. “Coming from a small town where most hairdressing salons were under tamarind trees, I learnt that this industry can also have a dignified life. With the posh outdoors at all my employers and institutes, I knew that I could become a successful hairdresser and also redeem the reputation of this profession. That sparked the entrepreneurial streak in me,” he recalls.
Taking one for the team
Coming from an economically modest background, this decision to start his own enterprise and create his own brand was a major one, and by no means easy, he adds. Piecing together all his savings, some money borrowed from his father, and finally, a loan from BYST Pune, he cut the ribbon for Mangeshaz Unisex Salon and Academy, a unisex salon that now has branches in Pune and Bhopal with five salons and academies. The company has scaled up operations employing the franchise model, employing 210 people directly and indirectly.
Apart from expansion, Mangesh had one more mission in mind. Looking back at the simple folk of his village who had never had access to world-class services, Mangesh made sure his plush space stocked with the best brands and highly trained staff was made uber-affordable.
Mangesh’s magic sauce
It is difficult to determine whether it was this noble thought, the fact that he offered quick service, or his norm of chatting up everyone that walked through his door that led to his revenues recording a consistent 2x growth since starting up in 2013. He clocked Rs 20 lakh in his first year, which doubled the year after. This year, he is on course to clock Rs 80 lakh.
“My academy provides scientific and systematic training to the aspirants wishing to pursue a career in cosmetology. So far, the academy has enabled hundreds of students to succeed in the profession of cosmetology and become successful entrepreneurs and professionals,” says Mangesh. 1,200 people have been trained at his academy, out of which nearly a thousand have got jobs and 200 have started their own salons.
He also sends his staff to Mumbai to attend workshops to enhance their skills. He vividly remembers his housekeeping days, which is why he provides lunch and dinner to all his employees, as well as incentives when they hit targets.
Up, up, and above
He plans to open 22 branches all over Maharashtra by December 2016. He has collaborated with the US Brand Santhi's for his hair studio, and is planning to open one branch in the US in the next two years.
Besides, his commitment towards society is heartening. A staunch believer in giving back, he is especially passionate about guiding the youth so that they don’t go down the same road he did. “Remembering my own struggle during my early days, I guide the youth through extremely low-cost haircuts and hair treatments for courses at my academy,” he says.
Till today, he has organised many free training sessions for haircuts and hair treatment for orphaned teenagers in Barshi, to make them self-reliant. He will also be organising complimentary seminars on hair cutting for women as he wishes to empower the community. He has also started sharing his experience on various forums to potential entrepreneurs and motivates them to start their own business.