Thursday, September 4, 2014

Business lesson from a first generation entrepreneur

For my blog readers, I have been thinking to bring articles on such success stories. This is not fiction and real. These are the people who started from scratch and grew due to their dedication. 
In this article, I am going to write about Vinit Saraogi and Bipin Saraogi, both are my friends and featured in The small and medium Entrepreneur. They are founders, promoters and Directors of TBD tradelink Pvt. Ltd. and they inspire me a lot. I am sure you will like this article.

To know more about TBD, please visit

When most his classmates were enjoying campus life and their teenage, these two borthers Vinit Saraogi and Vipin Saraogi had something itching in their brain. The itch to start a business, the itching to grow. At their age of 20 and 18 respectively,

Both the brothers are first generation entrepreneurs. They did not have any financial background or backing. They did not know how to start, but they were never worried about it. They are the example of indomitable human spirit, a passion to do something and rise above the level. It is about your own willingness, dedication and commitments and to defy the limit.

Their strong professional approach towards the entrepreneurship, venture resulted in a full fledge start up TBD Tradelink Pvt. Ltd. Started with a business from home by selling firecrackers at home when they were mere 18 years old Today, are founders, promoter and director of TBD Tradelink. A company which owns Mumbai’s biggest franchisee of Greendust India (A factory second product), their own brand of consumer durable products like induction cooker, ceiling fan, fans, CFL, LED and successfully translating into revenue. They are not stopping here, they have much bigger and larger plan ahead.

it and Bipin attributes their success to always having mentors, focus on their goal, keeping thing simple, putting the customer first and valuing the staff and treating them as their family member. They wish to pursue multi dimensional business approach. Every business involves risk- risk to lose money, risk to lose everything earned for years. We were wondering whether they were worried about this aspect.
“doing business was our decision and we were ready to sacrifice our night’s sleep. If you want to get success, you have to be ready for bigger sacrifices. We could do a 9 to 5 jobs, but we would have never contended. We knew what we want in our life. Its not about money, its about our own satisfaction and calling of our soul,” Said Vinit with a big smile.
A big thanks to Vinit and Bipin for answering questions about their entrepreneurship venture, journey so far, future plan advice to other first generation entrepreneur:

Is it easy for an individual from a lower middle class with no economic background?

Vinit: Not exactly. If it would have been so easy, every individual would have become an entrepreneur I guess. But this means not that anybody cannot do it. Yes, true that everybody cannot become an entrepreneur, but anybody determined to do so with complete dedication, focus and vision can do it. Money is secondary. Getting fund is not easy. Either you should have very strong family and community linkage. Being of a Marwadi community, we are linked closely still nobody wants to fund your business idea unless they trust you. Gaining trust is a primary thing, rest follows. If you think you have planned, idea and you can start a business and within 2-3 years you will start money, then entrepreneurship is not for you. You need to have lots of patience, ability to listen no and never ending waiting. We started from our home, then we could own a shop of electrical accessories. We put our all efforts and took bigger initiatives. We bagged distribution rights for Bajaj and soon, we emerged amongst top 5 distribution partners for Bajaj Electricals. The trend still continues. Alongwith this, we also took responsibilities for Arise and people started trusting us. This is a long journey we have started.

What is the greatest obstacle you have faced in achieving the success you desire? How do you overcome it?
Bipin: There were multiple. But we accepted them. We treated them as a challenge. Sometime we were prepared and sometimes we were not. Initially getting trusted manpower was a big challenge. It involved distribution of the product on time, a right person for credit control, salesperson with a passion for selling products and considering themselves as our business partner. It involved cash collection and sometime in lakhs of Rs.. Initially, people did not want to join us as we are not a big name and had the tag of Pvt. Ltd. Company. Slowly with time, we started to get people. Thankfully we had the loyal team of people who have been with us throughout our journey.
We have never delayed salary for our staff even when we were facing the biggest financial crunch. It is essential to take care of your people and to remain connected with them. In our journey so far, of almost a decade, we have hardly any staff who left us. Although we are a small team size and we must say that the team has been our backbone. We cannot imagine our success without them.
The second obstacle was funding. We are neither an IIM alumnus who gets instant funding due to their strong network. We had to depend on our family relationship and community network for funding. Here, trust was another factor. We did not have any business background. Our father had worked as a manager in textile mills in Bhiwandi, a satellite town in Mumbai. It was difficult for people to believe that actually we could do the business. Friends from our outside community were also had mostly similar background so raising funds from them was not possible. Whoever had fund, it was difficult to convince them. You know, money matters more than the relationship.
However as we grew in our business, people and then banks and financial organization started to believe us.
When we started TBD Tradelink and started to establish distribution network, it was extremely difficult to recruit performing sales people. We took all precaution and even hired people, though references only, still they could not perform. For us, it was essential to ensure that our investor’s money is utilized properly. We could not waste in non-performing people. Finally, we had to change our strategy and extensive travel. We have re-planned and re-strategized our move. Now most of the things are on track.
Why Consumer Durables, why not other products or sector?
Vinit: see, none of the business or good or bad. Its all depends upon in which you are interested. WE love to be associated with the masses. Selling is our passion. We want to be part of the larger mass day to day family. When somebody picks our products, they should say, ohh, it is a TBD product. Year after year when they see their product still performing better and giving a good return on their investment and utility of the product, they should praise us. Then we will feel that we are in right business, we have connected ourselves to the masses. You can make money in any business, you pick but there are few business where you feel connected to the masses.

Why not e-commerce, now you can see Flipkart, amazon and so on. Don’t you think it is well connected to the masses?
Vinit: See, I told you everybody has their acumen in business. We thought about it and did a good consultation and our own thinking. WE strongly feel that any e-commerce business has a maximum life of 10 years and it is a big money game. is struggling, indiaplaza failed, samething with If you look at current scenario, you hear flipkart, snapdeal and amazon. Rest or Indiatimes shopping and take any other name- they are struggling. All these 3 names have strong money backing and we do not know who will survive and up to when. For us, our name, faith of our investor and creating value for investor, for us and for our customer matter a lot. We are not saying that e-commerce is bad. In the future, we may decide about it, but as of now, it is not our cup of tea.

So what is your vision, mission for TBD Tradelink and what is your future plan.
Our mission is to create value for all our stakeholder- be it is our investor, our employees, society and largely our consumer. Everybody deserves to get the best from us and we are committed to it. We personally look into our product quality specification make sure that during every production, we visit to the factory and look into the quality of the product. We trust our partners but we want to ensure our own satisfaction. We treat our every product being manufactured as for our own uses.
Our vision is to make TBD products people’s first choice. We want to make our product affordable still high in quality. Whenever people think about their day to day utility products, they should think about TBD.
Currently we are producing high quality induction cooker, gas stove and fans. This are just the initial product. Soon, we are producing
List products here
Any suggestion for first generation entrepreneur
Do not compare yourself and do not copy a business model. Stay focused and be passionate about whatever you are doing. Find out your key area in which you are interested and just focus. Do not opt entrepreneurship for money, money will follow. Do it if it gives you satisfaction. Satisfaction means not that comfortable and easy life, it means sacrificing many privileges. Be what you are and be prepared for larger sacrifice.

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