Meet these 10 husband-wife duos who run successful SMBs
Valentine’s Day is all about demonstrating appreciation and love for one’s significant other. Like building and maintaining a relationship, business partnerships also hinge on chemistry between co-founders, trust, and effective communication.
When life partners start a small business together, the line between professional life and personal life is often blurred. Their shared values and familiarity with each other’s working styles can become powerful tools in fuelling the other’s passion for business.
This Valentine’s Day, SMBStory has curated a list of small businesses founded by couple entrepreneurs:
Cureveda founders Siddhesh Sharma and Bhavna Anand Sharma
Entrepreneur Bhavna Anand Sharma was meeting stakeholders in the pharma industry when she saw an opportunity to address common ailments holistically. Bhavna wanted to create a brand that prioritised the use of standardised herbs, substantiated with clinical validation, to create a premium range of supplements.
In 2014, Bhavna and her husband Siddhesh Sharma launched a premium range of herbal, organic, and nutraceutical remedies under the brand Cureveda.
Cureveda’s range of dietary supplements are therapeutic products. Its popular products are the ones that address common ailments like diabetes, thyroid, and heart health problems.
“My husband is a part of the Baidyanath family, and this gave me a springboard into the world of herbs. It enabled me to set up a pharmaceutical company where I helped develop various therapeutic formulas and gave special impetus to getting them clinically tested,” Bhavna says.
Fruzzante founders Nagesh Pai and Priyanka Save
At present, Indian consumers are moving beyond red wine and are exploring other types, such as white and sparkling wine, as well as cider-style alcoholic beverages (alco-bev).
Going a step further, entrepreneur couple Priyanka Save and Nagesh Pai are offering consumers a whole new experience with their brand ‘Fruzzante’, the world’s first and only producer of cider-style alco-bev made from chikoo (sapodilla).
“The idea was to process chikoo into a packageable form. But we realised that the nature of chikoo was to ferment, and so, we opted to go ahead with a cider-style beverage,” says 33-year-old Priyanka, adding, “After many trials, we were able to officially launch the first batch of cider-style chikoo alco-bev just as 2018 began.”
In just a year, the brand produced over 25,000 bottles. Presently, the Fruzzante winery is set up in Bordi, 25km from Dahanu, Maharashtra, and is part of the family’s Hill Zill Resort.
Geetha Nagu and Nagu Chidambaram
Nagu Chidambaram and Geetha Nagu, well-known entrepreneurs in Chennai circles, have set a strong foot in every business they operate in: from Sun Industries, an auto ancillary, to VNCT Ventures, which is into affordable villas, and the much-famed Kamala Theatre.
The duo has not only shown how innovation can be a game-changer for SMB businesses, but has also demonstrated how a family business can be modernised and transitioned without any conflicts and yet retain the core values.
For instance, taking the family-run Kamala Theatre to the next level was not easy. In 100 days, they rebuilt Kamala Theatre into an experience centre. While other theatres at that time were turning into malls and mandapams, they never wanted to be away from this business, and hence they built a multiplex. Today, Kamala Theatre is one of the most-profitable theatres in Tamil Nadu.
Vivek Prabhakar and Shubra Chadda, Founders, Chumbak
Chumbakis a Bengaluru-based design company started by husband-wife duo Vivek Prabhakar and Shubhra Chadda. The couple started small and sold their Bengaluru apartment to fund their venture in 2010.
They began by offering souvenirs based on Indian themes, and later expanded into selling phone cases, jewellery boxes, laptop sleeves, and kitchenware.
Vivek says, "We were a little bored of the usual marble Taj Mahal replicas and handicrafts that were becoming the only souvenir option. We thought travellers deserved some more options that were hip and still represented India. That's how Chumbak was born."
Chumbak is now diversifying into newer categories of personal care, and is looking to expand its offline footprint. The founders are keen to open 20-25 stores every year and expand the brand’s presence beyond metro cities.
Ankur Gupta and Akshita Gupta, Cofounders, ABL Workspaces
Coworking spaces, an unheard-of concept just a decade ago, have become a preferred option for many startups and companies whose millennial workforce enjoy the perks of non-traditional office spaces. Riding the trend is, founded in 2017 by husband-wife duo Ankur and Akshita Gupta.
Based in Delhi, the coworking space provider has a total of 10 centres—with another four underway—and 2,700 seats, each priced between Rs 6,000 and 16,000 per month.
ABL Workspaces has 10 buildings across Noida, Green Park, and Connaught Place, but these are not owned by the company. Rather, it works on three different models: lease, revenue sharing, and profit sharing. Occupants include employees of Bira, Lodha,, and , among others.
The couple has funnelled their own savings as well as investments from friends and family into the coworking space. Ankur notes that they intend to raise structured funding in FY 2020-21 to expand across geographies beyond Delhi-NCR.
Samosa Singh founders Shikhar Singh and Nidhi Singh.
After Nidhi Singh and Shikhar Singh got married, the conversation at home kept coming back to the business of samosas, the king of Indian snacks. They quit their jobs and started operations at their venture, WoknStove Foodworks Pvt Ltd, which sold innovative samosas under the brand name Samosa Singh.
Soon, they needed to move to a larger and mechanised kitchen to start catering to corporate orders and needed to come up with money quickly. The choice was to either sell their flat or raise risk capital at a high stock dilution. They chose the former.
“We had bought the flat for our own use. By selling the flat and investing the money into our business we were, in a way, making use of the flat for us,” says Nidhi.
Today, Samosa Singh operates out of a large, highly automated kitchen that can meet the current order size of over 10,000 samosas a day.
Sparkle founders Chirag and Hetal Virani
Menstrual health and hygiene remains a top concern in India, especially in rural areas. There is also the issue of disposal of sanitary pads in a way that does not harm the environment. A couple from Gujarat, Chirag and Hetal Virani, is working towards solving both issues at the same time.
They produce biodegradable sanitary pads using discarded banana stems. Started in 2017, the couple began manufacturing these eco-friendly sanitary pads under the brand name ‘Sparkle’. To make these pads more accessible, the startup donates one sanitary napkin for each napkin purchased under its initiative called, ‘Buy One, Give One’.
In terms of cost, the upper cost is at Rs 23.50 per pad, but to reach out to a wider user base, the couple plans to launch their new product at Rs 9.99 per pad by March 2020. Till date, the couple has sold 50,000 pads and thanks to the banana fibre used in making the pad, the pads biodegrades within 140 days.
Rohit Pugalia and Purvi Pugalia, Cofounders, Munchilicious
After completing his MBA in Finance, Rohit Pugalia was working at a stockbroking firm in Kolkata. Between meals, he craved for a snack, and often resorted to the more unhealthy options.
Rohit’s wife, Purvi, then started sending extra snacks along with the usual office dabba, but this only increased the boxes of food he had to lug to his workplace every day. And Rohit noticed that he wasn’t the only one.
Rohit, one-half of the brain behind healthy snack brand Munchilicious, says,:
“It was not only me but my colleagues too who used to get midday cravings. Zomato and Swiggy were not prominent then and we were short of options. Whatever was available was either stale or unhealthy.”
At present, the company has products placed in around 200 stores spread across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Delhi. It also paved its way to Singapore in July 2019, through Lazada, one of the leading ecommerce marketplaces in the country.
Rohan and Swati Bhargava of Cashkaro
Rohan and Swati Bhargava were good friends before getting married. The couple first started Pouring Pounds to ride on the success the cashback industry was seeing in many countries. The duo had considered the same idea for India, but the ecommerce sector was not quite mature when they launched Pouring Pounds.
Eventually, after raising $750,000 from UK investors, they launched Gurgaon-basedin India in April 2013. It is a one-stop destination for savings across 1,500+ ecommerce sites like , , , etc.
Users who log on to CashKaro and then do their shopping on its affiliate sites get up to 30 percent additional cashback. CashKaro works on a commission model. The company claims to be one of the largest cashback sites in India with over 4 million registered users and over five million page views a month.
Radhika and Bharath Patil, the Founders of Cradlewise.
is a startup based in Bengaluru that considers child-play to be a serious business. Co-founder Radhika Patil met her future husband, Bharath, while finishing her master’s in IISc, Bengaluru.
When asked about how they started a company together, Radhika explains:
“As a mother I found that I was facing a lot of challenges. Being efficient at work and being energetic at home was really difficult. That was when I decided to jump into the startup world. My husband joined me after a year. He had supported me continuously during that first year. I wanted to add tech to create solutions for childcare.”
Cradlewise’s first product is a customised smart cradle called NiNi built with a number of features that combine the cosiness of a traditional hammock with modern-day technology.
Cradlewise is priced at Rs 25,000 plus taxes. The company is also exploring rental models. They are reaching out to expectant mothers through Preg Buddy, Facebook and WhatsApp groups, and gated communities.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)