The usual day generally didn’t start that well in that particular Aggarwal house. Devoid of a decent job, the senior Aggarwal in the house just wandered in the streets to earn a living, searching for a daily job. He was a contract labor in one of the biggest steel firms in India in Jamshedpur. Generally he would get a job on two-thirds of the days in the month. Burdened by a family of five, including him, many a times they would sleep without having little or no food.
Even then, the junior Aggarwal, the only boy among three kids at home, studied hard to clear a top engineering entrance exam. It was difficult to get admission in an NIT, which he deserved, had his father’s boss not helped them. He managed to get a loan. In the hope of a bright light at the end of the tunnel, the junior Aggarwal, Mohit, was sent to study - Study to earn a decent job to pull them out of their misery.
What was special about that day was that Mohit has got himself placed in a top IT company of India. The senior Aggarwal was overwhelmed when he heard that his son would get a decent salary. There was mirth all around. Sweets were distributed to the envy of the neighbors – most of whom were contract laborers themselves. They eagerly waited for their son to return. And soon that day also came.
Mohit came back after completing his engineering and a decent job in his pocket. “When is the joining?” his father asked as he got fresh and sat on the chair with a cup of tea in his hand. “I don’t know.” He seemed lost. He seemed thinking very hard. “What happened?” His mother asked him. “I don’t know. I just don’t want to work for someone. I will open my own business.”
“Own business? Where would the money come from?”
“It wouldn’t require much capital. I will open a fast food center.”
“What?” Senior Aggarwal sprang off the chair. “You did engineering to sell noodles? You know the condition of the house. You have two sisters to get married. A decent job you have got. Why do you want to just let that go? A settled life is everyone’s dream. You want to let it slip off?”
“This job is nothing. A mere twenty-twenty two thousand is what I would get. I want to seriously do this. It has got a lot of scope.”
“Scope my foot.” His father was taken aback by this. He just stood up and went inside. He heard his mother saying “May be he is tired. We will talk to him once he is relaxed.”
The Aggarwals have a sense of business in their genes. Mohit’s grandfather was a saree merchant. That didn’t go too well. His uncle was in a business as well. Only his father was the odd one out. He has had legends of generations doing business. And somehow, it was strong in him.
Several rounds of negotiations failed. Mohit was firm on his decision. He managed to pull out thirty thousand from one of his friends and bought a cart. He also found a place and discussed with his father. He was so disgusted with what Mohit was doing that he made it clear “Either you stop this all at once or leave my house right away.”
Mohit chose the latter option. He was not ready to give up. He started by selling chicken rolls, veg rolls, noodles and soups. He hired a couple of cooks who were in their mid forties and quite experienced. He sat together to discuss with them how to make the business flourish. One of those two guys told him “Uniqueness is the key in food industry. If you are unique, you’d sell.” Mohit just assimilated that.
They worked hard together to create a recipe. A paste of spices and “god knows what” which they stuffed every roll with. It wasn’t easy to start with. The price they kept was pretty low. They distributed pamphlets in the morning newspapers. The word of mouth is important in these things and it spread virally. In one year of business he was selling around 500 rolls per evening. Noodles, soups and other items also made a small part of the business.
“I know that people just love the rolls. The secret stuffing is the key. I earn more than seventy- eighty thousand a month after giving away the salaries and operation costs. I am planning to open some new joints as well. But I just love sitting here and watch people devour my food.”
His typical day starts with preparing all the stuffs required in the evening. He opens only for three hours. He has 6 staffs working for him. Three years into this business and he has got one of his sisters married and second getting married in March this year. “Life is what you make out of it. No job is small if you have your heart into it.” He says.
P.S. He was my batch-mate in NIT and just loved cooking.