5 companies that have put Coimbatore on India’s entrepreneurship map
One of the trends that has emerged strongly during the coronavirus pandemic is the strengthening of local economies. With disruptions in supply chains causing havoc throughout the world, businesses have been compelled to look for solutions in their own backyard. This pandemic has made one realise that Tier II and Tier III cities are going to play a greater role going forward.
Coimbatore, often known as the ‘Manchester of South India’ (for the enormous support it provides to the textile industry), is garnering prominence in Tamil Nadu’s business community.
With schemes such as the TN Electronics, Hardware and Manufacturing Policy 2020, TN Electric Vehicle Policy 2019, TN Combined Development Building Roads 2019 and more, the city has the potential to become one of India’s significant manufacturing hubs.
SMBStory has curated a list of companies that puts this city on India’s entrepreneurship map.
B. Soundararajan, Chairman and Managing Director, Suguna Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
In 1986, brothers GB Sundararajan and B Soundararajan started Suguna Foods Private Limited in Coimbatore as a small poultry trading company, wherein they supplied equipment, healthcare products related to poultry, feed, and chicks to other poultry companies.
Three years into the trading business, they realised that many farmers were giving up farming because of the large credit gap in the market. With a dearth of structured loans from banks, these farmers had to depend on private lenders. Also, they were unable to sustain themselves on an unstable income.
This is when the idea to adopt a contract farming model struck the brothers, which cuts out the middleman.
In 1990, Suguna Foods, with just three farms, started contract poultry farming, wherein it provided farmers everything they needed to grow chicks — from feed to medicines, and, in turn, the farmers supplied the poultry to Suguna Foods.
Today, through this model, Suguna Foods is providing a stable income to over 40,000 farmers. Primarily known for its quality-grade chicken and related food products, it also operates about 66 feed mills across the country. The company rakes in Rs 8,700 crore annual turnover.
VKC Noushad, Founder of Walkaroo
In 2013, VKC Noushad launched a brand called Walkaroo in Coimbatore, which offers products that intersect fashion, quality, and affordability. It offers casual shoes, formal shoes, flip-flops, open footwear, slippers, sandals etc for men, women, kids, etc.
The shoes are manufactured at the company’s own 12 manufacturing units across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and a few more places. The units together have a capacity of producing four lakh pairs of shoes per day.
Apart from launching its own website, Walkaroo listed itself on ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and a few others in 2019. However, Noushad maintains that it is not a digital-first brand.
Walkaroo clocked a turnover of Rs 1,245 crore in the last financial year.
TABP Snacks and Beverages
Brindha Vijayakumar and Prabhu Gandhikumar, Co-founders, TABP Snacks an Beverages
Prabhu Gandhikumar was working as a consultant in the US for many years before he moved back to India in 2012 to join his family business of manufacturing metal castings in Coimbatore. He, however, felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction.
In 2016, he explored various sectors he could venture into, and beverages seemed like a good option. He realised that daily wage earners yearned for carbonated drinks that were affordable yet tasty, especially during summer months like April, May, and June.
Moreover, according to several data reports, a daily wage worker, on average, earns between Rs 9,000-10,000 a month. Sometimes, even less.
Prabhu says he found a real gap in the market. And so, Prabhu and his wife, Brindha Vijayakumar, launched Tanvi Foods, focusing only on beverages, in 2016 with two flavours — mango and apple juice priced at Rs 10.
There was no looking back since, and the company later got converted into TABP Snacks and Beverages in 2018. According to the numbers shared by Prabhu, TABP has grown from clocking Rs 92 lakh in FY17 to Rs 35.5 crore in FY21.
P Arumugam and Kanishka Arumugam
In 1980, P Arumugam, who hails from Kottur, a small village in Tamil Nadu, moved to Coimbatore to pursue his higher studies. After he completed his studies, Arumugam’s uncle, KK Veluchamy, suggested he open a shop selling spare parts for pumps, and in 1981, the duo and their friend, MS Sundaram, launched Deccan Pumps.
The pump manufacturing company began its journey as a small workshop with only nine workers, manufacturing submersible pumps for farmers. Gradually, the small group diversified into manufacturing other products such as jet pumps, submersible motors, centrifugal monoblocs, borehole submersibles etc.
The company also underwent several changes as Arumugam acquired the group completely and became the sole owner, which paved the way for a larger holdings company called EKKI Group, which comprises four companies: Deccan Pumps, Deccan Enterprises, EKKI HOMA and EKKI Pumps.
This happened in the year 2013.
Today, the company has evolved from being just a pump manufacturer to a water technology company.
Vijay Prasad, Executive Director, Annapoorna Masalas
Coimbatore resident Dr Damodarasamy Naidu, in 1975, was running a small chain of hotels when he decided to venture into the spices business, aimed at supplying local spice mixes to them. He established Annapoorna Masalas that locally sourced the spices, blended them in a small unit in Coimbatore, and sold them to hotels in the region, following a B2B model.
Today, Annapoorna Masalas has a total of 53 products and 101 SKUs. After rebranding, it launched about 12 national-regional blends, three biryani variants, and nine Tamil Nadu regional blends.
In FY20, the spice mix brand raked in annual revenue of Rs 35 crore. Annapoorna Masalas is also available on ecommerce portals like Amazon, Bigbasket, Flipkart, and Paytm Mall.