It was a day after completing my bachelor’s when I decided to win the business battle and that’s where I thought of pursuing an MBA in Family Business. Obviously, “Family business” as a specialization was the easy way to get into a renowned university. Cool breeze and green campus was all for me, but what about studies? That’s something I’m still figuring out.
Hostel life was amazing at this University; the only part which I didn’t like apart from books was food and seriously that comes into picture when you’re far away from your home and that soon turns out to be a major missing. Every day I would try and avoid eating food at the mess because I had witnessed the chef using uncleaned utensils to cook the food. I saw food sticking to the utensils’ bottom and that’s when I realized how unhealthy it is for everyone. I was sitting in my hostel room and was brainstorming about how to bring innovation to a product like this to make it good as well as a healthy product.
My background is in the manufacturing of kitchenware products which has helped me target the right market. The most important point that I wanted to mark was that healthy products should not be overpriced but should be made available to the masses. Thinking upon this idea, I started to do research about it. The research was more focused on the idea of looking for a product material that is used in making such products. Product material would add a price to it and that price would make that product costly and unaffordable. I wanted to lower that hefty price tag and wanted to make it affordable.
While researching, I got to know more about a new product which is called Cast Iron. This is 100% natural and healthy. I was on the verge of finishing my MBA and I made a business plan on my research. I discussed this idea with my father and started working on it. He appreciated my idea because he knew that it would mean growth for our company and it would help us spread some awareness in the society and would resolve health problems related to food.
The cast iron is made with pig iron. In India, the trend is of non-stick ware and aluminum items. It is very hard to convince the distributors about this new product. They would only think about profits and hence I had to add some value to show them that profit is possible in this product while also making it healthier. The risk factor was very high and so was the production cost which was estimated to be 20 million to create foundry and marketing.
The price, on the other hand, had to be competitive in order to compete with low priced Chinese products. I did not have much amount to invest in the project. In, South India there are people manufacturing cast iron products but they do it without the required seasoning process. They add coating and spray black colour on it so that it looks like a non-stick product. I wanted to avoid all of this and wanted to take an initiative in creating genuine products for people.
My idea is to take my family business to greater heights by joining my family business and using my entrepreneurial mindset to shift up the gears of the company. Since the investment was huge. I approached many foundry owners who are in casting business with the help of my father and convinced them with soft skills. This made them ready to make my products but with a condition. That we give orders only to them in large quantities and payment must in-advance.
I introduced my new line under the name of “Dazzle”. Roads are not so evenly surfaced and so is the business where I faced a lot of odds like almost 80 percent of the production failed to reach the market. Because the producers were not using a good material iron, and I wanted only pig iron to be used. After 3 months finally, the cast iron fry pan was ready and I took a deep breath. Now, the main problem was creating awareness. But as my father is into kitchenware manufacturing business, running the company ‘DECENT APPLIANCES’ built from scratch. I took that as an advantage and supplied to all our distributors.
But the distribution channel is not aware about such products and they only gripped. And equipped for selling non-stick ware items. It was very tough for me to convince them of getting my product on their shelves. But good things take time and so did Dazzle. Another major challenge was competition in terms of alternatives available. In India, there is a huge market of non-stick ware in the hands of big companies like Prestige, Hawkins and other brands. I was one of them who had no clue on how to find the gap. But I was confident enough that I will be able to create awareness on cast iron products. I then decided to sell this item more to crockery suppliers and supermarkets, where customer could find this product easily.
One thing that’s very important here and that is the price, which should be economic and must be on par with the alternatives. The process of making this product differentiates me from other manufacturers. We also test the final product in the laboratory and provide a recommendation from the doctor to use this product. Which creates additional value in the market. This also made it easy for us to convince the local distributors. This shall create a new trend in the market in which every middle class would be able to afford it. I have already raised 2 million so far and I am hoping to create more in the upcoming years. Check out our products in stores near you.