From failure to making a comeback, to turning a dorm-room passion into a business, the top 3 SMB stories of this week
This week, we at SMBStory covered some great stories of passion, grit, and gumption, of not giving up when all hope is lost, of finding inspiration in the unlikeliest places, and of solving key gaps in the market.
The entrepreneurial journey is a roller-coaster ride. There are many challenges, and ups and downs in the journey that an entrepreneur goes through. However, for a passionate entrepreneur, these challenges are just passing phases.
Though the industry experience counts in making big business, there are many entrepreneurs who tasted success without any prior experience.
Here are the top three stories SMBStory covered this week that show how tremendous passion into the business can make one soar high with flying colours.
The pharmaceutical industry was battling recession in 2008. It was a hard time for entrepreneurs of this industry who were also hemmed in by a bad credit system the following year. Some failed while others struggled to remain afloat.
Pradip Singh Puri, Founder of Avian Remedies Ltd, a 25-year-old pharma company, too was hit by the downturn. In an interaction with SMBStory, his son, Angad Singh Puri, who heads the company's retail, explains how the family fought hard and then made a comeback in a different industry.
“It was a very bad phase for us. We were into poultry and pharma business. The bird flu and recession hit us at the same time and we couldn’t foresee any positive change coming forth for the pharma industry. The recession ended after a while and we saw a steady boom in the furniture industry. We studied the market well and decided to take a leap of faith by starting a luxury furniture brand,” he says.
Angad explains that the market was flooded with products that were either too niche targeting a premium segment, or on a low scale. There was no middle ground, essentially, with limited options for the discerning upper-middle class. Avian went after that segment. So, letting go of his pharma expertise, Pradip founded Avian Lifestyle under Avian Remedies Group Pvt Ltd in 2013 in Gurugram, to plunge into the furniture industry. The business began in 2011 under the parent company with a capital of Rs 1.5 crore.
He started by importing furniture in 2011 from Vietnam, from a German company called Brema, for wholesaling under the parent company. Angad says,
“Vietnam is a hub for furniture and is one of the largest exporters of solid wood furniture to India. We started our journey by importing furniture and tried wholesaling in many retail stores. We then opened a 25,000sqft high-street store in Sultanpur, Delhi, and started out by selling furniture with a five-percent margin, which is very low compared to the market rates.”
Gradually, Avian started shaping up and they captured most of the furniture markets in Delhi, including Kirti Nagar.
In 2013, Pradip opened another 11,000sqft store in Gurugram, as furniture buyers, even on wholesale, often like to get the touch and feel of it before they go ahead.
Avian’s business expanded and the brand also started importing furniture from Turkey, where it has 56 exclusive dealerships. Today, Avian records an annual turnover of Rs 15 crore and wholesales to 50 brands across India.
Varun Mahna was first introduced to poker while he was studying at BITS Pilani in 2005. A card game featuring several variations and numerous strategies, poker relies on combinations made with players' cards to determine the winners.
Varun, his friend, Varun Puri, and others would hole up in their hostel rooms to play the card game for hours. He then joined XLRI Jamshedpur, where poker was popular as well. As he played more games, Varun’s love for the game grew. When he started working for Star Sports, he switched to online poker.
Varun started playing a lot of online poker games. This is when he noticed a trend that would go on to transform a small business idea into a multi-crore one.
“Online poker was trending and demand was increasing rapidly. However, there was a gap between demand and supply. As a consumer, the three or four existing online poker platforms didn’t offer great service and technology,” he says.
Seeing an opportunity to disrupt the online poker market, Varun decided to start his own business - a small and new player that could, ideally, meet the extra demand. In 2017, Varun along with engineering batchmate Varun Puri and two other co-founders, Shashwat Jain and Karan Gandhi, started Xeta Networks, under which they launched Poker Dangal, an online poker platform.
Varun says they invested Rs 30 lakh from their personal savings and began working at a friend’s house. Registered in Kolkata, Poker Dangal is headquartered in Delhi, with small offices in Kolkata and Chennai.
Poker Dangal generates revenue in two ways: charging service fees on wagers and charging entry fees for tournaments. “Every hand is charged. On average, we charge a three to four percent service fee on every hand that is wagered on the platform,” Varun says. These service fees are applicable to individual cash games as well as tournament games.
Poker Dangal’s approach to online poker worked so well that the small business quickly grew into one handling lakhs of users on a monthly basis. It gets around 1.2 lakh active users on a monthly basis, Varun claims, and 4,000-5,000 active players per day.
With service and tournament fees levied on each of these players, the company estimates it will record a revenue of Rs 40 crore this year.
Varun also says it recorded Rs 200-crore-worth wagers and entry fees last quarter and broke into the top five online poker platforms in India.
Born and raised in Jaipur, Rajasthan, handicrafts from the State always mesmerised Rahul Jain. Be it the fascinating katputli puppets, or the embellished mochdi footwear, or the colourful bangles, the handicrafts from Rajasthan are sought after across the world. But when Rahul, 31, stepped into a mall in Mumbai—where he was working after completing engineering—to pick up a gift for a friend, he was shocked at how exorbitantly the Rajasthan handicrafts were priced.
“I am from Rajasthan and I know how much a piece of Rajasthani handicraft costs. The selling price of that item was four times higher than the actual cost and I was shocked to see that there is no predefined market of these handicrafts,” the entrepreneur tells SMBStory.
That experience spurred Rahul to open his own ecommerce company a year later to collaborate with artisans and craftsmen and sell affordable products by cutting out middlemen.
In 2014, Rahul along with Ankit Agarwal and Pawan Goyal founded eCraftIndia.com with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 20,000. Started as a small online handicraft store it is currently one of the largest handicraft e-stores in India with 9,000 SKUs and clocks Rs 12 crore turnover.
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