Meet the men who worked hard and smart to keep their businesses running through tough times
This week SMBStory covered the stories of Frubon, Treeoise Resort, and Ashok Oil & Products, whose founders and subsequent generations have kept the midnight oil burning to grow their businesses and stay relevant in the changing times.
For over 40 years, DD Verma has been actively involved in the dairy industry. Besides setting up Rajasthan’s first private sector dairy under the name Lotus, Verma has worked for a dairy plant and machinery manufacturing company.
So it was only natural that when his sons Rahul and Rohit expressed their interest in working in the dairy industry, they would team up with their father. Quitting their corporate jobs, they started a dairy and ice cream business in 2017 along with their father.
Leveraging DD Verma’s extensive experience, network and strong relationships with dairy farmer societies and cooperatives, the brothers’ bootstrapped business began its journey with its operations in Jaipur and a registered office in Delhi.
In four years, Frubon claims to have scaled up to 250 societies with over 2,500 farmers supplying 20,000 litres of milk per day.
Today, the Vermas retail Frubon products to over 40 North Indian cities and towns through distributors and direct channels such as self-branded ice cream parlours as well as Swiggy, Zomato, Grofers etc. They claim Frubon is now a Rs 36 crore revenue (for FY20 and FY21) business.
At the young age of 13, Ankush Kakkar (now 38) took up the responsibility of helping his father run his woollen shawl business in Ludhiana as the family’s income wasn’t stable enough to hire a helping hand. This went on for two consecutive years after which he realised something needed to be done to make the business financially stable.
So, after three years in 2000, the father-son duo decided to set up a dhaba near Ludhiana bus stand. Ankush was in Class XII and had acquired the skills to run the business. The business they did by running the dhaba gave the father-son duo enough money to build a small hotel of 20 rooms. However, this was just the beginning.
Going the extra mile and fighting tooth and nail to make his dream of growing business come true, in 2020, Ankush built a 33,000 square yards resort called Treeoise in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.
The struggle did not end and infact grew further after the business was shut for a few months owing to the pandemic-induced lockdown. As the lockdown restrictions were lifted, Treeoise’s operations started running smoothly.
Today, Ankush claims that as of March 2021, Treeoise resort had sales of Rs 1.2 crore with a net profit of Rs 13.44 lakh.
Ashok Oil & Food Products
Ashok Oil & Food Products was started by Ramniklal Mehta in 1948 at Shivaji Park, Dadar, Mumbai, and has been an export-focused business in Indian-origin seeds oils in their natural filtered and cold-pressed form.
The company started by dealing in sesame and coconut oil in Mumbai local market delivering to wholesalers and retailers under its brand name Ace.
In the early 1990s, the company started exporting to the Middle East. In 2006, the company shifted its entire processing and packaging plant to Bhiwandi, Thane. Once it received approval from the USFDA for its products, it opened doors for new markets in the UK, EU, the US, and Canada.
Today the business is run by Ramniklal’s son Dinesh Mehta, Karan Mehta (Dinesh’s son) and brothers Hardik and Hiren.
Karan who joined the business more than a year ago has been watching these developments in the domestic market and the emergence of a new Indian consumer class with keen interest. He wants to create a new, premium, healthy edible oil D2C brand, specifically focused on the Indian market.
Ace is also available on Amazon and Flipkart and the company’s own ecommerce store, and within a month of its launch recently has clocked sales worth Rs 1 lakh without any major marketing promotions.
Other top stories of the week-
At 18, when Vikesh Shah started working at a small cake shop in Mumbai just to earn some extra bucks, never had he imagined that his experience would lead to something big.
He worked hard at the store, earning Rs 700 a month, and rising to the ranks of a manager in just two years. Soon after, he quit, and started his own corporate catering venture and another food-related business.
In 2007, he started his first physical store, a bakery called The Happiness Deli in Mumbai, so that his desserts could reach a wider audience.
A keen observer of trends and cultures, Vikesh had noticed during his travels to Europe that pancakes, with its various toppings and flavours, were a staple, and consumed mainly as a breakfast meal. With the increasing popularity of pastries and English desserts in India, he felt like there was a huge market lying untapped for pancakes. In 2017, he opened the first store of 99 Pancakes in Mumbai’s Khala Ghoda.
In addition to pancakes, 99 Pancakes also started selling cakes, pastries, crepes, pizzas and more.
The company peaked in 2018 and 2019 when it launched 65 stores pan India including Gujarat, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Today, it is also present on delivery aggregators such as Zomato and Swiggy.
YourStory’s flagship startup-tech and leadership conference will return virtually for its 13th edition on October 25-30, 2021. Sign up for updates on TechSparks or to express your interest in partnerships and speaker opportunities here.
For more on TechSparks 2021, click here.
Applications are now open for Tech30 2021, a list of 30 most promising tech startups from India. Apply or nominate an early-stage startup to become a Tech30 2021 startup here.