From Coca-Cola India manufacturer turning to D2C, to attracting foreign patients for hair transplant in India; top SMB stories of the week
The Indian business ecosystem is growing rapidly. From adopting technology, boosting business operations to following a D2C selling model, the country has transformed a lot during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
This week, SMBStory featured Indian businesses that are building on the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and putting India on the world map with their products and services. Here are the top SMB stories of the week.
Dinesh Jhadhav, Executive Director, Marketing Operations, HCCB
For years, out-of-home consumption used to bring the majority of business for FMCG manufacturer Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB). The brand, which was incorporated in 1997, is responsible for manufacturing, packaging, distribution, selling, merchandising, and market execution for Coca-Cola India’s products.
HCCB manufactures Coca-Cola, Thums Up, Maaza, Minute Maid, Fanta, Limca, Kinley, etc, and saw most sales coming from restaurants, bars, stalls, and retail outlets. Furthermore, its distribution strategy was a standard FMCG practice — HCCB operated through an extensive network of 3,500 distributors and 2.5 million retail outlets.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a rethink. Amidst the nationwide lockdown, restaurants, retail stores, and other out-of-home consumption places shut temporarily or resorted to delivering goods directly to customers.
“Kiranas and ecommerce platforms emerged as big points of sale for daily essentials. This shift was understandable, given the other two major channels — E&D (eating and dining, or simply restaurants) and convenience stores (like chai shops) — were temporarily out of business. We saw a dramatic increase in grocery consumption as people preferred to stay indoors,” says Dinesh Jadhav, Executive Director, Marketing Operations, HCCB, in an interview with SMBStory.
HCCB began focussing its distribution through food aggregators and delivery services and tied up with Dunzo and Swiggy in select markets to reach consumers directly. Although Dinesh doesn’t disclose any pre-COVID numbers or sales figures from HCCB’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel, he says the Dunzo and Swiggy partnerships have become an integral part of HCCB’s daily operations. In 2019-20, HCCB reported overall revenue of Rs 9,789 crore.
Visaka Industries Ltd
Set up as a cement roof-manufacturing company in the early 1980s by G Venkat Swamy and his son G Vivekanand, Hyderabad-based Visaka Industries Limited has transformed over the last four decades to make sustainable building materials and textiles, and record an annual turnover of Rs 1,127 crore in 2019-20.
In an interaction with SMBStory, the third-generation entrepreneur and joint Managing Director Vamsi Gaddam recounts the vision of his father and grandfather, and how he has carried that forward.
“My grandfather and father took the company to great heights and I was predestined to join the family business,” says Vamsi. “I joined in 2008 and had one core vision—to make Indian products known globally.”
In the early 1980s, Venkat Swamy wanted to set up a business that could employ people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. But prior to the economic liberalisation of 1991, it was hard to get a licence to start a business.
The construction industry was booming in India at that time and had the potential to contribute to the economy.
Swamy invested Rs 5 lakh out of his personal savings and got some money from the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Board to start Visaka Industries Limited.
Today, it is an NSE and BSE listed company with a pan-India presence and major international clients.
Eugenix Hair Sciences
Dr Aarika Bansal and Dr Pradeep Kumar Sethi
Dr Arika Bansal and Dr Pradeep Kumar Sethi completed their post-graduate studies from AIIMS, Delhi in Dermatology and Venerology in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Upon not being able to land a job in the national capital, they decided to move to Rishikesh that faced an acute shortage of skincare clinics.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Pradeep Kumar Sethi, the 42-year-old hair transplant surgeon, says,
“There were not many skincare clinics that catered to the population residing in Rishikesh and the surrounding areas of Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Gangotri, among others. We both didn’t find any suitable jobs, and the gap in the area for skincare specialists forced Dr Arika and me to start something of our own.”
In 2008, the duo started National Skin Clinic in Rishikesh and Dehradun. Within a year, the doctors witnessed a rising trend of hair transplant treatment in the market. The growing concern around baldness and hair fall encouraged the duo to do further research.
After successful research and training, Pradeep and Arika began with hair transplant treatment consultation for patients around Rishikesh and Dehradun. However, in 2014, they shifted their base to Gurugram to cater to a wider audience and launched Eugenix Hair Sciences.
Another top pick of the week
Vibhhas Verma, Founder of Aqueouss
Vibhhas Verma was pursuing law at Amity University, Noida, when he started reading a lot of business books by entrepreneurs who had built multi-core businesses. These stories of success, failure, and perseverance besotted him. Even though his path was set in the field of law, these books changed something within him.
Not just that; he was also inspired by his father Pradeep Verma, who has been running a high-pressure die-casting business for almost 45 years. However, Vibhhas decided not to pursue his family business rather start something of his own. In his words, “he wanted to do something futuristic.”
He was inspired by the battery industry. One of his friends pointed out the hype around lithium-ion batteries, thanks to its widespread adoption in the electric vehicle industry. Apart from that, these batteries are used across solar, consumer electronics, robotics, defence, and railway, among other industries.
The idea clicked, and in 2016, he started Aqueouss, a lithium-ion batteries trading business, in the third year of his college. He pursued the degree and ran the business on the side, until his graduation in 2018.