The founder of Rs 2,500-crore Nirma group, Dr Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel aka K K Patel, has set an example of how firm resolve helps an individual to become a successful entrepreneur.
Hailing from a small village in Gujarat, Karsanbhai began his journey by redefining the rules of business in 1969. He started business in the era when Indian domestic detergent market was not stable and few multi national companies called the shots.
It was then he launched his brand product, 'Nirma'. In the beginning, he went from door-to-door to sell Nirma detergent powder. It is the same powder which has now become a household name and has given premium brands a run for their money.
This inspiring story of a corporate legend like Karsanbhai Patel will make you believe that nothing is impossible if you keep trying no matter if you fail several times. What is required is confidence, perseverance and grit.
Here we go...
Born in the family of farmers, K K Patel showed interest in studies. After completing B Sc in chemistry at the age of 21, he began working as a lab technician in textile mills in Ahmedabad. Soon, he realised his major interests were detergents and soaps. He thought of starting a business of making and selling detergent powder.
He used to make detergent powder in the backyard of his house in Khokra near Ahmedabad. He would then go door-to-door to sell his products.
There's a story behind naming it as Nirma. Karsanbhai lost his daughter 'Nirupama' in a car accident. He named the product after his daughter. Since then, he nurtured the brand like his child.
Karsanbhai started selling Nirma at Rs 3 per kg, a very low price that attracted many middle-class families. It was the time when MNCs like Hindustan Lever Limited and Surf used to sell detergent powder at Rs 13 per kg, a huge amount in comparison to what he sold. This made Nirma grow like anything.
And it hit the right chords. A cute little girl in a white frock appeared on TV, cinema screens singing out the famous 'Sabki Pasand Nirma, Washing Powder Nirma...' jingle. It became India's largest selling detergent powder. Nirma has become a super brand now and is listed as the 9th top FMCG brand in India.
Nirma, being a cluster of companies, launched products like detergent Super Nirma detergent, toilet soaps, and Nirma beauty soaps.
Well, Nirma toilet soap is one of the prime soap cakes after Lux and Lifebuoy.
He began Nirma Institute of Technology in 1995. Nirma University of Science and Technology followed in 2003. In 2004, he launched the Nirmalabs education project. All these institutions offer courses for the wanna-be entrepreneurs.
Karsanbhai was awarded Padma Shri in 2010. Also, he was ranked #92 by Forbes magazine on the list of India's richest people in 2009. Not only that, he is also the third Ahmadabad-based industrialist to buy a chopper.