Last evening, Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of low-cost sanitary napkins and CEO of Jayashree Industries in Coimbatore, addressed an illustrious group of marketers and media bigwigs, sharing his journey as a social entrepreneur and rural innovator in modern India. He spoke at IAA Global Marketing Summit held in Mumbai in partnership with exchange4media.
Muruganantham’s story isn’t like any other story of a successful start-up businessman or entrepreneur. He is responsible for single-handedly creating low-cost sanitary napkins for women, especially those who can’t afford them and would use any odd cloth or rag instead.
At the Summit, he related his story, without beating too much around the bush, about how he first discovered the problem and the dangers of using old rags as sanitary towels; the research he undertook himself (from coaxing his wife to help, to getting the help of medical college students to trying out napkins himself using football as an ‘artificial uterus’!); how his wife and mother threatened to leave him, and eventually researching on low-cost raw materials, along with Johnson & Johnson and P&G’s products.
The Coimbatore-based inventor, who gave up school after he lost his father, said that he feels lucky that he’s not educated, more so in marketing. “When you have a clear mind that’s devoid of confusion, you’ll be able to do wonders,” he advised. “It’s also important to ‘unlearn’ what you learn…The moment you take a life experience seriously, you end up failing.”
He also pointed out how globalisation isn’t really as advantageous to marketers as they think it is. “God took a risk and created people that are unique, so that each of us think differently and act different. But all we’re doing is copying each other,” said Muruganantham.
His advice for marketers on success was pretty straightforward, “When you want to do something new and you face a problem out of nowhere, that’s indication that you will go further. Whenever things get tough, that’s an indication that you’re on the right track. When the road seems clear for you, drop it. You need to be first.”
Muruganantham also stressed on the fact that in order to be inventors or discoverers of the new, it’s important to not be afraid of what’s to come. “The uneducated don’t fear the future, so we can take up anything that’s new. The moment you fear the future, you’ll be afraid to take risks.”