An inspiring story of buddies, all first time entrepreneurs establishing one of the most stable, resilient and growing textile companies in Coimbatore Textile hub and enjoying their journey for 25 years.
Danavarshini Exports is a twenty five year old enterprise based out of the textile hub of Coimbatore-Tiruppur. The company that started its journey in 1995 was carefully set and moulded by three textile graduates who studied at the same college. While they all started their career independently, two working in close proximity to each other. It is after 10 years of honing their skills and building on their individual strengths and understanding the niche requirements in textiles that they started off.
It all came together when Mr Sreedhar, MD of the company, had to work for his Uncle’s company who had a textile company. At that time he was facing some quality issues, which Mr Sreedhar offered to handle. And within two to three months there was visible shift in the entire process and all those concerns dissipated. While he worked there for three years, the idea to start one’s own venture came to life when he invited K. Tamilarasan and S Ramachandran started as a buying agency.
Many people are cautious about starting ventures with people they met at college, as friendship and business relationships could mean very different boundaries. However, when at the core of the organization are certain values and everyone aligns with those values, the journey may become different.
Business Strategy of cautious scaling up:
Considering this time was before opening up of Indian economy, there was quota system of Government prevalent at that time. It might sound absurd to the young generation and it is a blessing that we are past that era, however, that kind of stuff could get the enthusiasm out of an entrepreneur those days. It is especially true for a first generation entrepreneur where the nuances of business are not well-known. So as very cautious players in the new business, Mr Sreedhar and partners decided to not put the money in scaling up at that time. The money was invested in real estate that helped secure credit when required, when the real time for scaling up happened.
“Till 1995 we never invested much in the business itself, rather, we were building up our resources. This also helped tide us over when the market was down and most other businesses faced financial trouble.” Says Sreedhar, reflecting on the good moves that helped right timing the business growth.
The rewards of this strategy came after the quota system was abolished around 2003. Quota system was especially strenuous for a new entrepreneur as the contours of how things work are not clear and as it is there was hardly any transparency that made it easier to understand.
Right timing the Scaling up
New opportunities that came required scaling up and we had already prepared ourselves for that. “sustainability in business- if you want to scale up, first you should be able to sustain yourself and build the foundations of your business.”
It made sense to invest in the sewing and dyeing. This was the time when cutting machines were introduced in 2002, secured embroidery machines and printing factory. In 2006, the dyeing unit was also set-up. All of the major investments happened in 6-7 years time and by 2007 the company had everything except knitting machines.
The company started with 30 machines in 1995 and turnover of 52 lakhs per year. By 2007 it changed to 500 machines and a turnover of 30 crores. Now, in 2020 our turnover has reached 150 crores.
Smart investments and healthy partnerships:
This is the story of growing from your strength, carefully pacing the business growth and reaping rewards of healthy partnership. “it works like an equilateral triangle with three equal sides. This partnerships is the bedrock for company’s stability.”
Core values of the company is customer centric approach, and values of fair and just is at the core of the company’s ethos. The company gets repeat orders from its customers and with 60-65 days for first order and 35-38 days for repeat, the quality and speed helps the organization secure customers and retain them. Mastering processes, which comes through professional training and interest, leads to quality and that is how the customer is satisfied.
Sustainability- Is that what the customers demand?
The company value is that “whether we leave behind money for our kids or not, we must leave a legacy of clean, pollution-free earth. We always have a foresight in advance for sustainability-related initiatives.”
Mr Sreedhar substantiates this with their early foresight on investing in a zero discharge plant and therefore reaping the rewards of business continuity when industry got heavily disrupted by new legislations on ETPs in 2009.
On energy front, nearly 50% is sourced from company owned windmills (1.5 MW). In addition to that sourcing organic cotton, adhering to Higg’s index and pursuing cradle to cradle certification is helping us become even more sustainable. The company was awarded in 2016 for this initiative .The company is intending to go for solar energy as well as massive process integration to reduce the embedded energy for dyeing, cutting and yarn factories.
Employees and Happiness
Socially, taking care of the workforce and investing in their trainings, and their children’s education. Having a workforce with 50% women employees, the company is focussed on happiness quotient of the employees. The employee welfare is focussed on employee retention which the company values. Similarly on community initiatives, healthcare and supporting education and food for orphanages is some of the focus area of our CSR.
It is having complementary strengths, respect for each other, clear values and transparency between the partners and a strong shared vision that helps partnerships grow from strength to strength.
Lessons for buddies who may like to start up their own venture.
“There are numerous opportunities and find something that resonates with you. Focus on the work and do not dilute or spread yourselves thin in the beginning. Upgrade your skills, learn and gain knowledge as the nature of opportunities keep on changing. All entrepreneurs will face challenges but clear thinking, foresight and good planning helps in managing the problems”, suggests Sreedhar. Another aspect is specialization.”
Have entrepreneurial fire, and give time to what you want to achieve. Just as there is power of compounding which needs time, similarly for a business to yield takes time and right time is logical timing, It is the element of perseverance that differentiates one entrepreneur from another.
Interviewed and written by Dr Shashi Kad, Sowmya Ravisandiran