An idea makes an entrepreneur, not money: CavinKare's CK Ranganathan

Though the importance of money can't be sidelined, it's the idea that gets one to create a product in the market that no one has yet created, says the Chairman & MD of CavinKare

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Oct 15, 2013 7:42 AM
An idea makes an entrepreneur, not money: CavinKare's CK Ranganathan

When CavinKare introduced its Velvet brand of shampoo in sachet form in 1976, the innovation took FMCG marketing by storm. Later in 1999, the company launched its Chik brand of shampoo in 50 paise sachets, which gave a further boost to the brand’s market share. Along with the sachet innovation, what aided Velvet’s marketing strategy was a strong communication message that reached out to the audiences.

Reaffirming this, CK Ranganathan, Chairman and MD, CavinKare said, “Advertisement is the key to one’s success. Innovation alone will never get a brand to reach out to its consumers.” In contrast, Ranganathan said that his father, who created the first ever shampoo sachet, believed that work that is excellent is recognised by its quality and not through advertisements.

Ranganathan pointed out a few important learnings from his journey...

Idea above all else
He said that it is the attitude that defines altitude. The choices that one makes in life will define their work and will get them recognition in the market place. He strongly believes in what Bernard Shaw had said, “Some men see things as they are and say why; I dream of things that never were and say why not.”

To become an entrepreneur, one needs to have an idea and not just the money. According to Ranganathan, people always think that one cannot get into business if they do not have enough capital to invest. Though the importance of money can’t be sidelined, it’s the idea that gets one to create a product in the market that no one has yet created. If one starts thinking differently and doesn’t get into ‘me too’ products, success is sure to knock at their doors.

Differentiate or die
Getting into the shampoo business, he understood that there has to be something different to convince the customers and the retailers to take his product for selling. That was the time when he introduced the exchange offer scheme – return five empty Chik shampoo sachets to get one Chik shampoo sachet free. This resulted in doubling of sales for the shampoo brand.

Finding ways to do things differently has proven to be advantageous for Ranganathan. Being a strong believer in the importance of advertisements, he continued to reach out to consumers through messages printed in A4 sheets of paper when the company was just starting out and didn’t have enough money to advertise. “If you do not differentiate, you die,” he stressed, adding, “The customers always look for something new. Be innovative and differentiate. Differentiation brought us to where we are today.”

Don’t ignore the six stakeholders
Ranganathan also strongly believes in the saying, ‘Change your thoughts and change your world’, According to him, in order to build an enterprise, it is important to understand the six stakeholders in the business and their priorities. These six stakeholders are – customers, employees, suppliers, banks, financial institutions, and lastly, the owner.

Be financially literate
Pointing out the most common mistake that any small scale company does when there is shortage of money, Ranganathan said that it either pays less salary to the employees or pays late salary. He cites this as the primary reason why companies lose out on a lot of skilled employees, which adversely impacts the company’s growth. Stating that financial literacy is relatively poor in the society, he said that Robert Kiyosaki’s book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ has a lot of learnings to offer to companies and consumers alike.

“You can’t send a duck to an eagle’s school. If your company’s mission is to climb a tree, which would you rather do – hire a squirrel or train a horse? I hired a horse and that was my mistake. Sometime entrepreneurs do make mistakes. If one is thorough with the principles of the business, then it is very easy to do business. Many a times we make mistakes and don’t gallop to our full potential,” he added.

According to Ranganathan, among other things that an entrepreneur should keep in mind is employing the right people at the right time and finding new people and training them to succeed. He added, “Fine is a tax for doing wrong, tax is a fine for doing fine. Paying taxes at the right time helps in the process of growth.”

Ranganathan shared his views at a special talk organised as part of the Gyan Series by the Ad Club Madras that took place in Chennai. The Gyan Series was sponsored by The Hindu.

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