This entrepreneur quit his job after a family tragedy and grew his family business 14x in 5 years
Pratap Singh Rathore, happy with his white-collar job in the financial sector, did not particularly want to join his family's namkeen (savoury) business.
He always thought he'd make a career in finance. But tragedy struck twice and Pratap lost his father and brother in a span of two years.
"My father and brother were running the family snacks business. So, after they passed away, I quit my job and joined the family business," he says.
The business, started in 1969 by his father Swaroop, was only making Rs 12 lakh a year when he passed away.
As Pratap embraced the mantle, he made it his mission to scale the business.
Pratap Singh Rathore
Taking over the family business
Immediately after taking charge in 2012, Pratap got the business registered with the name Indore Namkeen Bhandar (INB) Food Products Private Ltd.
Pratap strongly believed that modernising the production and improving the branding and designing could help the business expand.
"When I took over, I focussed on renovating and modernising the factory and converting the shop into a showroom. Further, branding the company's products helped us acquire new customers, solidify trust, and gain recognition among the existing ones," he says.
This brand value also allowed INB to demand a higher premium from customers in an otherwise cutthroat market.
He adds, “We started selling our products at prices 40 percent higher than the average. Still, people willingly bought them, and brought us enough revenue to subsequently advance and innovate our products.”
In 2017, INB touched Rs 1.7 crore (14 times more than the Rs 12 lakh the business earned in 2012), according to Pratap.
Presently employing 15 people, INB has become one of the leading manufacturers and brands of namkeen in Udaipur.
But INB's and Pratap's success wasn't a fluke: the vast customer base his father built over the years allowed the brand to scale an already-proven product in a receptive market.
What changed was the marketing strategy. During his father's years, Namkeen Bhandar never really felt the need to resort to conventional marketing techniques to sell its products.
Pratap says, “Word-of-mouth marketing has been working well for us. Nearly everyone in Udaipur knows about our showroom and has visited at least once."
Snacks from Indore Namkeen Bhandar
A strong brand presence
Pratap personally saw proof of INB's strong brand presence when a rival namkeen store opened adjacent to his.
This was when his father was still running the business. Pratap saw that the opening of the rival store did not worry Swaroop. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity.
“My father was not worried about losing his original customers to the new shop. He was confident about retaining them, and never really felt the need to entice them further. Rather, he focussed on attracting the other shop's loyal customers to our store. He always laid emphasis on widening his customer base."
His father’s confidence came from delivering top quality products on a consistent basis for decades, says Pratap.
“Customers trusted my father blindly. They were confident about the quality and did not worry after buying from my father’s shop," he adds.
This was one of the many lessons his father taught him, as a result of which, Pratap says he does not fear any competition.
In recent years, INB has continued to broaden its market. It benefited from showcasing its products in government cooperative stores in Udaipur, and plans to advance its association with such state-owned marketing channels.
Pratap says he is in touch with the Rajasthan government to seek a permit for displaying INB's products in cooperative stores all across the state.
His vision is now to replicate the success achieved in Udaipur across Rajasthan and India. He remains confident about achieving this goal as he believes the only ingredient required for winning over customers is quality -something INB has cracked and delivered for almost five decades.
(This story is published in partnership with the MSME Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)