Starting up in their 20s, these entrepreneurs managed to build multi-crore businesses
While most youngsters of their age generally believe in “taking it easy”, these entrepreneurs decided to burn the midnight oil to see success.
People in their 20s have big dreams. It is also a time when we have a higher degree of financial and personal freedom, with the energy to explore new avenues, venture into unchartered territories, and build the foundation for future success.
While the path to building a successful company is a difficult one, many people have managed to brave the storm and have become an inspiration for the next generation.
While most youngsters of their age generally believe in “taking it easy”, these entrepreneurs decided to burn the midnight oil to toil up and create success.
SMBStory lists five entrepreneurs who started in their 20s are now making an impact.
Chai Sutta Bar
Like most parents, Anubhav Dubey and Anand Nayak’s parents urged them to explore options like CA, CAT, MBA, UPSC, and others while sketching out their career trajectory.
However, none of them worked out. After failing to make a mark in these competitive exams, the duo returned to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
“We would fill our bikes with 50 litres of petrol and roam the streets for ideas when we realised the demand for chai in the country,” Anubhav tells SMBStory.
This was the tipping point for the duo. Seeing “chai anywhere and everywhere”, the two friends decided to start a tea-cafe chain in Indore in 2016 with an initial capital of Rs 30 lakh.
They decided to give their chain an unusual name -- .
From one outlet in 2016, the young entrepreneurs have come a long way. Over the years, CSB has scaled to more than 200 outlets in 100 cities in India. Of these, 195 are franchisee models and five are owned by the company.
Malabar Gold and Diamonds
Born into a family of merchants and landlords, MP Ahammed began his entrepreneurial odyssey at the age of 20 by setting up a spice trade venture in 1979. He used to trade cardamom, pepper, and coconut to the retailers of Kozhikode (now Calicut) in Kerala. However, he soon realised that the trading business will not become big.
Ahammed thoroughly researched the market and realised that a major unorganised sector people boasted about was jewellery. And that’s all it took. Gearing up all his courage, he decided to set up a business in the industry and promote his native place Malabar. However, he had no funds to take such a big step.
His relatives gathered around Rs 50 lakh to invest in the business, which built the foundation for Malabar Gold & Diamonds. Thus, in 1993, the company started in a small 400 sq ft shop in Calicut. Ahammed started by purchasing gold bars and then getting the jewellery manufactured from goldsmiths.
What started in 1993 with seven investors now has 4,600. In FY20, Malabar Golds & Diamonds clocked a turnover of Rs 27,000 crore.
Neither is Prafull Billore a foodie nor is he fond of cooking, but he still built a multi-crore business by selling chai (tea) across India.
“I wanted to be a big man. Bachpan se bahut tang samay dekha tha (Have seen tough times since childhood), and so my only passion was to make more money and live a comfortable life. My parents thought if I did MBA, I’ll get a high-paying job and life would be settled. But that didn’t happen. I failed thrice in the CAT entrance exam despite my hard work,” Prafull tells SMBStory.
Hailing from Dhar, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, Prafull had lost his passion for MBA, which he had been pursuing from Ahmedabad University since 2017. However, what kept him motivated was reading books and imbibing the quotes of famous business leaders.
Fast forward five years, the 25-year-old is now a multi-millionaire entrepreneur who has built , a Rs 4 crore turnover business with 50 outlets pan India.
Hailing from a family of tea exporters, Bala Sarda grew up in an environment that led him to get an indepth knowledge of the tea industry was inevitable.
In 2015, at the age of 23, Bala founded in New Delhi, a digitally native, vertically integrated global wellness brand that ships teas across the world.
Although Indian teas are in high demand, Bala felt India as a brand is not efficiently placed in foreign markets. He started by exporting tea to the US after passing the USDA certification and non-GMO verification.
“Not many brands take the initiative to promote Indian tea by launching a homegrown brand in foreign countries. You see Starbucks introducing turmeric latte. It is Westerners who are promoting the benefits of our homegrown products, so why shouldn’t we? I wanted to crack this opportunity and retain the value at the source,” he explains.
Besides the US market, Bala later explored Canada, the UK, and Germany as potential markets.
Vahdam is now available in over 1,000 brick-and-mortar shops in the US. It claims to be one of the first few Indian brands to list in premium and legacy retail chains in the US, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
At present, it has around 175 SKUs, including pyramid-tea bags, superfoods, gift sets, assortments, teaware, and drinkware. In FY20, the company clocked Rs 145 crore so far. Bala says Vahdam has around 1.5 million customers in the US.
Being fit is important for everyone. Twenty-five-year-old entrepreneur Pallav Bihani realised this quite early when he suffered from a slipped disc while in school.
“I was 105 kilograms, and I realised I must start a fitness regime to stay healthy. In the first year of my college, I hit the gym and started taking health supplements. It took a little while, and I was able to bring down my weight. But there was one thing that hit me — fitness affordability,” Pallav tells SMBStory.
He explains fitness is not affordable in India. Right from health supplements and fitness accessories to immunity boosters – people cannot afford such high costs.
He founded in Bengaluru in January 2019 to make fitness available for everyone. He started the D2C health and fitness ecommerce brand after taking a loan of Rs 8 lakh from his father.
As Pallav was short on cash, he decided to start small and began with yoga mats.
Starting with just one product, Boldfit now has 30 SKUs across categories, including fitness and yoga, nutrition, health, and wellness. In two years, Pallav claims to be clocking an annual turnover of Rs 30 crore as of December 2020.
Edited by Megha Reddy