5 small business founders who found success after quitting their full-time jobs

SMBStory has curated a list of some small business entrepreneurs whose difficult decision to quit their jobs set them on the path to entrepreneurial success.

1st Oct 2019
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Quitting a stable job can be a scary step during India's ongoing unemployment crisis. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows the unemployment rate in India went up from 6.47 percent in September 2018 to 8.19 percent in August 2019.

It can especially be nerve-wracking for those who leave their jobs behind in pursuit of realising their entrepreneurial dreams. However, if their business fails, they not only lose a lot of money but also be unemployed.

But these entrepreneurs often took that bold step. And many have seen some great rewards as a result of taking that risk.

SMBStory has curated a list of some small business entrepreneurs whose difficult decision to quit their jobs set them on the path to entrepreneurial success.

Steven Pinto - Mangalore Pearl

steven pinto

Steven Pinto, Founder, Mangalore Pearl

Since childhood, Steven Pinto was passionate about cooking. He was especially fascinated with seafood dishes like fish curry, which was the staple diet for his Catholic community in Mangalore. This fascination stayed with Steven even when he moved to Bengaluru to work in an IT firm.

As he cooked for local friends and Mangalore Catholics, he discovered that the cuisine he grew up with was missing in Bengaluru. "Even though there are many people from this community in Bengaluru, the Mangalore Catholic flavours were missing from seafood restaurants," he says.

And one day in 2004, Steven took a leap of faith to make this passion his profession. He was 40, but age was no bar for him. Quitting his IT job, he started Mangalore Pearl in Frazer Town in an attempt to bring authentic Mangalore seafood cuisine to Bengaluru.

He reveals that every day for the past 15 years, he has been going to Russell Market at 5:15 each morning to buy fresh fish. And this helps Steven avoid sourcing fish from vendors, which saves him a great deal of cost.

Today, Mangalore Pearl has become a legendary name in Bengaluru not only for the Mangalore Catholic community in the city but also among all seafood lovers. It has grown to a 38-member team that works across two outlets (the second, 75-seater restaurant is located in Ulsoor and was opened in 2018.)

Read the full story here.

Ankit Magan - Retas Enviro Solutions


Retas founders Neeraj Chauhan (left), Priyank Jain (centre) and Ankit Magan (right)

One day in 2016, three MBA friends got stuck in a relentless shower of rain in Gurugram. Ankit Magan, Priyank Jain, and Neeraj Chauhan were there for some work, and had to wait more than 45 minutes for the rain to stop.

Because of the rain, the roads were water logged and the drainage systems were choked up. “There was so much wastage of water, so we asked ourselves, what would happen if the city had to pay to receive rainfall? Would so much water go to waste?” says Ankit.

As the friends contemplated this, they decided they must do something to preserve rainwater. Despite having full-time jobs, they wanted to start their own rainwater preservation business and become ‘waterpreneurs.’

Six months later, in December 2016, they left their jobs and started Retas Enviro Solutions in New Delhi to design, manufacture, and install water tanks and modular rainwater harvesting systems. In just two years, Retas has started servicing large clients such as TATA Steel, Reckitt Benckiser, SIEMENS, Hi-Tech Gears, HPCL, Government of Delhi, Government of Uttarakhand, and more.

“With our team of 11 people apart from the three founders, we make around Rs 40 lakh to Rs 45 lakh worth sales each month,” Ankit adds.

Read the full story here.

Amit Chopra - Kesar International

Amit chopra

Amit Chopra, Founder, Kesar International

In his early 20s, Bengaluru-based chartered accountant Amit Chopra was frequently jumping jobs. Having worked at a number of MNCs, he felt he wanted to quit and start his own business. With his skill set, Amit could have easily started an accountancy or consulting firm.

"I wanted to be in an industry which wouldn’t slow down or stop. Upon research, I saw that steel was a huge sector in India which was steadily growing," he says.

Amit was right, because India’s steel production has been on the rise. India was the world’s second-largest steel producer in 2018, with production standing at 106.5 million tonnes in 2018, according to data sourced by India Brand Equity Foundation.

Looking to venture into the steel industry, Amit quit his job as a CA and invested Rs 30 lakh from his own savings, and with some help from his family, to start Kesar International in Bengaluru in 2018.

The company’s objective is to source steel from other states, get it processed into steel products by rolling mills near Bengaluru, and sell the finished steel products to local clients. Amit’s asset-light strategy worked wonders. In its first year, Kesar International landed big clients like Prestige and Sobha, and recorded a revenue of Rs 10 crore.

Read the full story here.

Mamata Hegde - Shree Nandan Ice Cream Glacee

mamata hegde

Mamata Hegde, Founder, Shree Nandan Ice Cream Glacee, and her husband

Unhappy with her low-paying job, 35-year old Mamata Hegde decided to quit her teaching profession. Mamata, who hails from Karnataka, says she had spent nearly two-and-a-half years teaching at an NGO.

“I was paid a meagre salary of Rs 6,000 per month. I was underpaid and I always knew that I could do better," she says.

While Mamata kept looking for a job, not losing hope, her husband, who is a lawyer, advised her to enroll into a training programme by the Ministry of MSME, from where she could learn the know-how of starting a business. Mamata says she underwent the training programme.

After getting some financial aid from her husband and a loan of Rs 2 lakh through the Mudra Scheme, she started Shree Nandan Creme Glacee, an ice cream parlour, in Bengaluru in 2016, with an investment of Rs 10 lakh.

The parlour offers an extensive range of cold delights in a variety of flavours. Fruit ice creams, Italian Gelato, Sundaes and Shakes are some of the top buys at the parlour. 

According to Mamata, she is able to attract a daily footfall of around 200 people due to the reasonable pricing of her sundaes. She says there are three people working with her at present and the company is seeing an annual turnover of Rs 10-12 lakh.

Read the full story here.

Ram Dinesh - Shakos


Shakos founders Ram Dinesh, Kishore Thennarasu and Tamizh Selvan

Started as Fryos in 2017, Ram Dinesh (25), Kishore Thennarasu (25), and Tamizh Selvan (25) were serving different varieties of french fries from a small kiosk.

The IT professionals also had milkshakes as part of the menu, but the shakes became such a huge hit that the founders decided to start Shakos and serve milkshakes exclusively.

Co-founder Ram Dinesh says, "Before we started Shakos, we saw milkshakes in Chennai were overpriced, or their quality did not justify the price point. We saw this as a big opportunity for milkshakes which balanced good quality with affordable prices."

The founders were from different IT verticals such as sales and marketing, growth, operations, etc, but this business opportunity seemed too good to turn down.

They quit their jobs and came together to start Shakos with a bootstrapped investment of Rs 45 lakh. Launching a unique range of classic and premium milkshakes, Shakos recorded Rs 1 crore revenue just over a year after launch, and is targeting Rs 5 crore by the end of this year. The founders also aim to open 50 outlets this year and 200 outlets in the next two years.

(Edited by: Palak Agarwal)

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