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How Next-Gen entrepreneurs are minting money

Last updated on: September 07, 2013 08:53 IST

How Next-Gen entrepreneurs are minting money

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T E Narasimhan & Gireesh Babu in Chennai

While remaining tied to their family’s core business, they are venturing into new areas and even roping in private investors to grow.

A generational shift is sweeping through family-run businesses in Tamil Nadu. Recent years have seen the scions of not just national business groups like TVS, BGR, and Apollo Hospitals but also local players like Nalli and Viveks join the family’s line of work.

But, unlike the previous generation, these young men and women are shaking things up at work.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Nalli Jewellers

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Take, for instance, Niranth Nalli, 24, a fifth-generation Nalli who has ventured into jewellery retail through Nalli Jewellers.

For 85 years, ever since the group was founded, Nalli Silk was a brand known for only one thing—its collection of rich Kancheepuram silk sarees that people bought for weddings. 

The company has now opened its first jewellery outlet next to its saree store in Chennai’s T Nagar. Niranth, who will complete one year in the business this month, sees jewellery as a natural extension of the company’s core strength.

He has planned out an investment of  Rs 100 crore in the new business, which will go mainly into opening  stores and setting up manufacturing facilities.

In the next 12 months, he plans to open more showrooms in Chennai and expand to other cities like Bangalore. Some drastic ideas such as diversification into the hospitality sector could also become part of the company’s plan in the future. “It might not be possible in the near term, but we may think about it in the long run,” he says.

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Image: Niranth Nalli (Inset).
Photographs: Courtesy, Nalli Jewellers

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Ties that bind

Scripting a similar story of change are the Bysani brothers— Kishore Bysani, Vishal Bysani and Vijay Bysani.

The brothers, part of the second generation of the founding family of consumer durables chain, Viveks, are taking the 45-year-old company into new areas such as food and home services.

An MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, Kishore joined the company as associate vice-president six years ago. Since then he has ventured into the food business by obtaining the licence for Cream Centre— a chain of vegetarian restaurant—for Chennai along with M Mahadevan (of retail chain Hot Breads).

The restaurant chain currently has four outlets in Chennai and one in Coimbatore. He has also ventured into providing automated food & beverage kiosks to private companies and large industries.

Last year saw another member from the founding family, Vishal Bysani, 27, join the business.
With his entry, the company launched Viveks Digital 1, a retail outlet for selling laptops, tablets and smartphones. So far, the company has one store each in Chennai and Bangalore.

The market for IT products, which has been growing at 200 to 300 per cent annually in the last four to five years, offers a huge opportunity for the company. To start with, Viveks only wants to focus on opening stores in malls.

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Image: Cream Centre
Photographs: Courtesy, Cream Centre

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T E Narasimhan & Gireesh Babu

In a segment where large players like Tata’s Croma and Reliance Digital are already well-entrenched, and where margins are wafer thin, the company is banking on faster churn of stock and greater brand recall to carve out a place for itself.

The same year, Vijay Bysani took the company into another new area—home service—through a division called Home Serve, which offers electrical, electronics, carpentry, plumbing and other home-related services in Chennai. Recently, the company has also extended its services to big offices and commercial buildings.

The division grew out of the after-sales service arm for the consumer durables sold from Vivek’s outlets. Plans are afoot to hive it off into a separate entity in the next one year. The company expects its annual maintenance contracts to reach 10,000 from current 7,000 by then.

For Vijay, the company is no longer a tightly-held family enterprise to be passed on to the next generation in legacy. He is looking at roping in fresh investors, including private equity, to fuel the company’s expansion plans.

“It is an unorganised sector and we are trying to bring in standards in services and quality in the sector,” says Vijay.

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Image: Viveks Digital 1
Photographs: Courtesy, Viveks Digital 1

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The two sons of A D Padmasingh Isaac, founder of the Rs 1,000-crore (Rs 10 billion) Aachi Masala Foods, a  fast-moving consumer goods company focusing on masala and food products, have also chalked out diversification into segments such as ready-to-eat food and mineral water.

Like others, P Ashwin Pandian and P Abishek Abraham, are also planning to rope in private equity investors to support the expansion. Pandian and Abraham at present look after brands such as Blesso, an over-the-counter medicine, along with other healthcare and food products.

Their ready-to-eat products like snacks will be launched under the brand name Aachi Frispo, while mineral products and juices will be called Aachi.

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Image: Aachi Masala Foods.


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Renewing the old

Not to be left behind, the third generation at one of the oldest family businesses in Tamil Nadu, Naidu Hall, a garment retailer, is busy adding food and restaurant business to their bustling empire.

They have created a new company called Rama’s F&B. The restaurant is promoted by Aravind Ramaswamy, the grandson of M G Naidu, who established the brand Naidu Hall in the 1930s.

The group’s garment retail business, Naihaa Retail, sells ready-made garments, home furnishings, cosmetics, lifestyle accessories, among other products.

The group’s first restaurant, Dario’s, which offers Italian food, came up last year.

The restaurant was set up through a franchisee route, says K Suresh Cumar, chief executive officer, Rama’s F&B. In the future, Rama’s F&B plans to create its own brand within each outlet, he says. 

In the next two-three years, the company plans to open 10-12 outlets in cities like Chennai, Coimbatore and Puducherry.

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Image: Dario's restaurant.


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The youngest member of this new brigade coming out of the shadows of her parents is Ayesha Kapur, 19, the daughter of Hidesign founder Dilip Kapur.

While Hidesign has become a leather goods brand with international resonance, Ayesha, along with her mother has set up her own company called Ayesha Accessories which stocks edgy, funky jewellery designed primarily for teenagers.

Ayesha, who ventured into films when she was nine as the young Rani Mukherjee in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, said in a blog post: “I am half Indian and half German, and this mixture of Indian and Western cultures adds a fun twist to the designs we create, making Ayesha Accessories unique from many other brands”.

Her most important role at Ayesha is to research trends, understand the young crowd and come up with exciting colour themes and designs. “I then work with a team of designers in India to ensure that Ayesha Accessories stays on top of the latest global fashion trends”. Ayesha has a store in Ahmedabad and new outlets are planned in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.


Photographs: Courtesy, Ayesha Accessories

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