Success before 30: Meet 5 Indian entrepreneurs who built multi-crore businesses from scratch
It takes blood, sweat, and tears to build a business from scratch. Entrepreneurs who overcome these odds through their sheer resilience are the ones setting examples for others.
SMBStory lists the success stories of five Indian entrepreneurs who built multi-crore businesses in their 30s.
Bala Sarda, Vahdam Teas
Bala Sarda, Founder and CEO, Vahdam Teas
Hailing from a family of tea exporters, Bala Sarda grew up in an environment in substantial knowhow of the tea industry was inevitable.
In 2015, at the age of 23, Bala foundedin New Delhi — a digitally native, vertically integrated global wellness brand — that ships one of India’s finest teas to the world.
Although Indian teas are in wide 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 is 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 US customers.
Rishabh Chokhani, Naturevibe Botanicals
Rishabh Chokhani, Founder, Naturevibe Botanicals
At the age of 29, when Rishabh Chokhani decided to adopt clean eating, he couldn’t believe the impact on his body. The transformation did not take long to show, and the results were astonishing — both physically and mentally.
As his family business was into pharmaceuticals, this made it easier for him to study wellness and related industries.
Rishabh sensed a huge opportunity in the organic foods industry and decided to set up his business along the same lines, and thus startedin 2017 in Mumbai.
“In India, at the time, the organic products market was still growing. However, in the US, it was already a huge craze. Though most of the natural ingredients used in any product have roots in India, there were very few Indian suppliers in the foreign market,” Rishabh tells SMBStory.
He started by catering to the US market and soon expanded to Europe. After operating in these foreign markets and getting know-how of the industry, Rishabh ventured into India in 2019.
Naturevibe Botanicals boasts superfoods, organic food, Ayurvedic supplements, staples, groceries, essential oils, massage oils, etc. The products, over 650 in range, are manufactured in its facility located in Raigarh, Maharashtra.
Today, Rishabh claims the company is exporting Indian botanicals worth Rs 250 crore and clocked a turnover of Rs 140 crore in FY 20-21, with a global customer retention rate of 40 percent.
Pallav Bihani, Boldfit
Pallav Bihani, Founder, Boldfit
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, but 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 foundedin 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.
The cash was less to set up a whole manufacturing infrastructure and Pallav wasn’t ready to seek any external funding, and so 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.
Keshav Rai, Bike Blazer
Keshav Rai, Founder, Bike Blazer
Twenty-seven-year-old Keshav Rai was an average student in school and not very academically inclined. His keen interest to repair things around him led him to pursue engineering.
While in college, Keshav says he would discuss startup ideas with his friends. He requested his father to fund one of his app-based businesses in 2015.
But as they say, timing is everything. If it’s meant to happen, it will. Keshav’s first startup was a failure. But his will to innovate and learn gave him entrepreneurial success later.
One day, he decided to pack his bags and left home telling his parents that he would return in four days. He walked on the streets for three days without being able to come up with any ideas to secure his future.
However, on the fourth day, while Keshav was on his way back home, he was sitting in the parking lot of a metro station in Delhi and saw a man searching for a dusting fabric to wipe his bike. As he couldn’t find anything, he took the duster from a bike next to him, wiped his bike, and went away.
Seeing this, Keshav decided to make a second attempt and started in late 2016.
Bike Blazer offers two-wheeler water-resistant parking covers that protect vehicles from dust. The handy device can be fixed on the vehicle and the overall operational time of the cover is below 30 seconds, says Keshav.
Bike Blazer is now seeing an annual turnover of Rs 1.3 crore as of FY 21.
Jay K Mulchandani, CoreB Group
Jay K Mulchandani, Founder and MD, CoreB Group
Jay K Mulchandani was just 14 when he started helping his grain merchant father in his business. Hailing from Kotputli, Rajasthan, Jay loved to study, and his parents wanted him to pursue the great Indian IIT dream. However, he could not clear the competitive exam on the first attempt and did not get into IIT.
Though Jay pursued mechanical engineering from another college and landed up a job with a reputed auto manufacturing company, the salary offered to him lowered his morale.
Jay started taking commissions on the sale of each truck, and one day, while attending an event, Jay’s enthusiastic sales efforts were noticed by the rival company's leadership, whose manager soon offered Jay a new job and a better package.
“I was transferred to Barmer, a desert area in Rajasthan, to sell trucks. This was a setback for me as it was hard to pitch to clients in such a place. But I found there was a lot of demand for second-hand and older trucks,” he says.
Jay didn’t overthink it, and he decided to resign. A deep-rooted desire to start a business was the cause, and he thought the time had come to work on it.
As someone once said, nothing is a waste of time if one uses the experience wisely. Understanding the demand for refurbished old trucks in many parts of Rajasthan, Jay decided to tap into this gap and ideated upon three manufacturing options — trucks, spare parts, or trailers.
It is the first company to introduce aluminium trailers and 52 tonner trailers in India.
CoreB Group has upscaled its operations from a production capacity of 800 trailers per annum in 2017 to 2,000 trailers per annum.
The company raked in Rs 40 crore turnover in the last fiscal year, taking the projected turnover of CoreB Group to Rs 100 crore in the current financial year.