• Thu. Sep 22nd, 2022

Entrepreneurs rising in the F&B industry and other top stories of the week

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Jul 24, 2022

Dr R Ravichandar came to Bangalore in 1979 to study. He had left his hometown – a small district called Sholinghur, near Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, hoping to make it big in the city.

After finishing his studies, Ravichandar did odd jobs for a few years, including that of a bank clerk. However, he was unhappy with the pace at which life was progressing and wanted to try something else.

This hunger (pun unintentionally) led to him taking a managerial position at a restaurant called Kanishka in 1983. Ravichandar’s move to Kanishka proved to be a game changer and is also responsible for building the foundations of its success in the industry.

While closely monitoring the daily operation of the point of sale, he developed a passion for gastronomy and entrepreneurship. Soon he realized that becoming a food entrepreneur was his ikigai.

He quit his job in 1987 and decided to start a business with four of his friends. Together they invested Rs 6 lakh to open a restaurant called Suhasini. The restaurant was launched with great enthusiasm but failed to ring the cash registers. The lukewarm response spooked the other four investors.

“The partners weren’t ready to invest more money,” he says.

A year later, in 1988, Ravichandar hit rock bottom when the restaurant had to be permanently closed. “One of these days I was feeling terrible so I went to see a movie,” he says.

The film was Manathil Uruthi Vendim. Ravichandar says Suhasini’s character, a nurse, divorcee and sole breadwinner for her family, inspired her to pursue her passion. The film charts her journey as she navigates through various struggles for the sake of her family.

“The character of Suhasini inspired me a lot. I told myself that I can’t give up. I need to believe in myself and move forward for me and my family.

It looked like the dust had finally settled as Ravichandar prepared to launch the second leg of his entrepreneurial journey. At that time, he hadn’t foreseen the kind of success this business would be. He started a catering business, Nandhana, in 1989. Three decades later, from one, Nandhana grew to 23 outlets and recorded Rs 68 crore in FY21.

Read the full story here.

Navalprabha Foods

It was the mid-1980s, Harak Soni’s aunt, Meena Soni, who had moved to the United States, was short of Indian food, especially Khaman dhokla (a light, spongy snack made from flour). So, when she came to India on her annual visit, she told her family to find a solution for her craving.

Harak’s father, Jayesh Soni, and grandfather, Narayanji Soni, prepared a homemade dhokla premix, which Meena could take back to the United States. Soon, the premix not only solved his dilemma, it also became very popular in the United States, especially among the Indian diaspora, says Harak, the director of Navalprabha Foods.

The product’s instant popularity led the Soni family to begin supplying the premix in the United States through Meena and select national retailers. Until around 1988, the family operated on a small scale, but when they were convinced they had found a good business opportunity, they couldn’t let go.

In the same year, the Soni family set up a 1000 square foot manufacturing unit and started Navalprabha Foods in Jalgaon, Maharashtra with an investment of Rs 7,000. One of their first clients was an FMCG company based in Nashik, who asked Harak’s father to make a premix of gulab jamun.

Three decades later, Navalprabha Foods is now a white label manufacturer supplying companies such as Nilon’s, an FMCG company, and Rakesh Masala, a spice manufacturer. Its portfolio includes premixes for dhokla, gulab jamun, idli, dosa, vada, ice cream, cakes, and flavored cashews and millet. In the future, he wants to become a contract manufacturer for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands.

Read the full story here.

Power systems of the universe

Jeyalakshmi Venkatanarayan’s energy solutions company was born out of a crisis, a financial crisis to be precise.

In the early 90s, Jeyalakshmi, a classical dancer by training, was taking dance lessons at home as well as at dance schools and academies. Her husband worked in a granite export factory but his income was insufficient to support the family, especially their two daughters. It was so hard to support herself in India’s Silicon Valley that her husband decided to move back to their hometown of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. It was then that Jeyalakshmi decided to take control of the situation and look for a business opportunity.

“It all started with a quest to give my daughters a quality education, and I have come a long way. I received no family support when I wanted to start a business. , I would have also easily followed the passion I had for dancing,” says Jeyalakshmi, in an exclusive interaction with SMBStory. The 62-year-old entrepreneur says it’s very important for loved ones to show their support, as it can play an important role in reshaping his life.

“I always dreamed of continuing my studies at IIT, but I couldn’t and didn’t want my daughters to go through the same pain. I wanted to give them a quality education. So I decided to stay ( in Bengaluru),” she says.

That decision made all the difference and since then Jeyalakshmi hasn’t looked back, now running a successful business…Power systems of the universe.

Universe Power Systems is a Bengaluru-based company that provides power solutions to customers in sectors including IT, healthcare, government, finance, education and research. The company is a reseller of online UPS (sales, service and rental), batteries, stabilizers, home UPS, diesel generators, server racks, data center projects and air conditioning systems of precision.

Read the full story here.


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