Cuttack-based Sun Aromatics is going the whole hog to take on branded perfume companies
Company: Sun Aromatics
Founder: Prabodha Kumar Badapanda
Place: Cuttack, Odisha
Turnover: Rs 2 crore
Back in 1995, basic chemicals used in manufacturing commodities were rare in Odisha. Local businesses often struggled to source these chemicals and had to rely on Kolkata’s market for a steady stream. For these small and medium enterprises, increased production meant more chemical purchases, which were becoming too expensive.
At the young age of 22, budding entrepreneur Prabodha Kumar Badapanda took it upon himself to start manufacturing these chemicals in Odisha -- something others had never done before.
Launched in 1996 as Sun Temple, Badapanda’s business began producing manufacturing-grade chemicals in the commercial town of Cuttack. At this point, he knew that he had to sell them at a low cost because he was trying to disrupt the imports from Kolkata.
“We started making and trading basic chemicals and solvents in Cuttack, and we quickly expanded by manufacturing perfumes and fragrances in Bhubaneswar and then disinfectants in Cuttack,” says the 45-year-old entrepreneur.
In 2014, he launched his fragrances unit as a separate entity by the name of Sun Aromatics. It was from this point in his journey that he saw a sudden spike in business and profits. "I saw a huge growth by making perfumes which clicked in local markets as well as the nearby markets of Ranchi and Raipur,” he says. “So far, I have invested Rs 10 lakhs into the business by reinvesting profits. Last year alone, I clocked a turnover of Rs 2 crore.”
Badapanda’s profitable journey has seen his business claim around two percent of Odisha’s perfume market. “My fragrances unit is doing great but the chemicals unit, which is still active, is facing stiff competition from other traders,” he explains, adding, “But this doesn’t mean my fragrances unit is free from challenges.” According to him, it is very tricky to handle advertisements and marketing, which helps them compete with the more popular, branded perfume manufacturers in India. “We have low expenses. It is necessary to increase the budget of advertisement for market growth and sustenance,” he says.
Badapanda believes that staying away from wholesale channels and retailers is the way to go. “We do not hesitate to sell one or two products at a go; there is no compulsion for us to sell in bulk. We also make sure we don’t sell on credit.”
Badapanda ensures his business is in constant touch with customers and the market. Sun Aromatics frequently demonstrates its products over the counter in an attempt to generate a steady stream of interest, and consequently, sales. “By keeping in touch with the market, I hope to venture into the deodorant market soon. Another dream is to manufacture and sell room fresheners and toilet cleaning detergents,” he adds.
Badapanda maintains that financial support from the government and banks is needed for the expansion of his business. “I believe that the government should take active measures to instruct banks to provide working capital loans to such businesses. We also want lower interest rates on these loans since we are a capital-intensive unit, having invested in plant and machinery.”
This entrepreneur’s secret to success is to make a policy out of a plan and strictly follow it. “It is critical to adhere to your business policy, and at the same time, play the long-term game by maintaining the quality of your product. This is by far my biggest learning to sustain in any market.”
It also helps to stay motivated by the competition. The entrepreneur recalls how he was kept on his toes by the marketing strategies of companies in the sectors he wanted to enter. He says, “I was thoroughly motivated by looking at branded perfume companies and how well they marketed their products. A few deodorant and detergent companies inspired me with the sheer quality of their products too. I also take inspiration from local entrepreneurs who may be in other industries but have demonstrated outstanding leadership.”
(This story is published in partnership with the MSME Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)