From Chowman's secret sauce to bouncing back from a Rs 1 Cr loss: the top SMB stories of the week

This week, SMBStory uncovered the secret recipe of business success. From reviving after loss to building a business that stands out, here are the top SMB stories we carried.
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Every entrepreneur has his sights set on growth. But, the path to success is quite demanding.

This week, SMBStory uncovered the successful business recipes of Kolkata-based Chowman and New Delhi’s Woodman who are running successful businesses with one key ingredient: ‘faith in themselves’.  

Chowman

Thirty-nine-year-old Debaditya Chaudhury, who opened his first Chinese restaurant, Chowman, in Kolkata in 2010, asked himself one question. How was he going to stand out from the crowd?

“Kolkata has the most densely-populated Chinese restaurants. My plan was something else. It’s based on Alfred Ford’s (great-grandson of Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company) philosophy of democratising cars for everyone. Similarly, I wanted to democratise fine dining. I wanted to open small outlets of Chowman with high-end decor, crockery, and cutlery like the ones in plush restaurants, and food that is on par with any five-star hotel at reasonable and affordable pricing,” he tells SMBStory over a Zoom call from Kolkata.

This was how he initially advertised his brand: ‘Five-star quality food, at a one-star price’. “From the very first day, we had a great response. So much so that I could open a second place within four months of the first,” he says.

A first-generation entrepreneur, Debaditya put in his savings to start his first outlet. Today, he has 22 of them, 18 in Kolkata and four in Bangalore. 

Read the full story here

Woodman

Rahul Goel was still studying at Amity University, Noida, when he was helping his father in his car accessories business located in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. The company was dealing in manufacturing of car mats, speakers, and other accessories. One day, while working at their office, he found that his father had a registered trademark for a brand ‘Woodman’, but had never used it. 

“Living in times when internet penetration is so deep, I asked my father if he wanted to make use of the trademark and if we should sell our products online. My father was very supportive but he guided me towards starting up my brand, a separate entity rather than scaling up the existing business,” Rahul tells SMBStory. 

As Rahul already had a knack for entrepreneurship, initiating a new business wasn’t hard for him. In 2015, he approached ecommerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon to list his Android car stereo system on the marketplace. 

“Flipkart had newly launched the car accessory category then in 2015,” Rahul says adding that just after he listed his products, demand poured in. Within seven months, he had done business of around Rs 60 lakh. 

However, his venture saw several ups and downs. Rahul bore a huge loss of Rs 1 crore and was in heavy debt in just two years of starting Woodman.

So, what helped Rahul recover losses and restart the business that holds such a good position today that he is aiming for ambitious expansion in 2022? Rahul says: “Focus”.

Today, Woodman makes a revenue of Rs 5 crore, and Rahul expects the company to close FY22 at Rs 7.5 crore.

Read the full story here

Other top picks of the week

Sunrise Bakers

In a busy market lane in Dehradun stands Sunrise Bakers. Over 60 years after it first came into existence, the bakery has now expanded and opened a second outlet in the city. The expansion is noteworthy as it comes after a particularly difficult year for the family-run legacy business, with the death of Amarjit Singh Jolly and Harmeet Singh Jolly, both second-generation entrepreneurs who were carrying the legacy inherited from their father Harnam Singh Jolly.  

“Everyone was saying, ab Sunrise Bakers ka kya hoga? (what will happen to Sunrise Bakers?) as both my father and youngest uncle, who were together running the business for years, died. Everyone in the family was emotionally broken but we also had the responsibility to gather ourselves and not let the legacy go to ruins,” says Rishika Jolly, third-generation entrepreneur and daughter of Amarjit Singh. 

Harnam Singh Jolly had four sons - Didar Singh Jolly, Amarjeet, Harmeet, and Jagjit Singh Jolly. While Didar Singh is based out of Noida, Uttar Pradesh; Amarjeet and Harmeet were running the bakery in Paltan Bazaar; Jagjit was working with ONGC and helping his brothers on the side. The sudden demise of his two brothers spurred Jagjit to take over the reins of the business with the help of the third generation.

Talking to SMBStory, Jagjit and Rishika say despite the challenges through all these years,  the bakery has been running profitably since its inception. Now, after almost 65 years, they are on their path to expansion. 

Read the full story here

Edited by Teja Lele Desai