Entrepreneurs are a unique breed for they take that leap of faith and invest their all in what they believe in. We have two such people who are poles apart in their chosen fields of business but share the same high levels of passion and commitment to what they have chosen to do! Puvikumar of the Kavi Group of companies made his way in the Poultry business and Ranjeeth Rathod of DRA Homes found his calling in the world of Real Estate. The duo share the same ideas on “Risk it to make it big! and have applied it successfully to beat the odds and become scions in their entrepreneurial dreams!
Photographer: DINESH BABURAJ
Stylist: PANSY RAJA
Hair & Makeup: NATURALS SALON
Location: TRIDENT HOTEL,CHENNAI
The young and dynamic Puvikumar is the Managing Director of Kavi Group of Companies, which is the only company dealing with all verticals of the Poultry business, including the parents, feed mills, hatcheries, slaughterhouses, central kitchen and Quick Serve Restaurants! In the restaurant business, they are the only Indian company to hold over 200 outlets, pan India. Puvikumar started from scratch and is now heading a company with multiple brands and interests in each and every avenue of the Poultry industry. Along his journey, he has also helped create over 200 successful entrepreneurs. The Kavi Group of companies has also made over 1000 farmers happy through various social initiatives.
Generally, food outlets depend on chicken from outside but we are producers ourselves and it is a big strength for us. If we find any weaknesses in our Poultry business, we convert it into a strength at our QSRs!
Puvikumar is an engineering graduate from the batch of 1997 who started out as a distributor in Karnataka for a poultry vaccine company. His business journey began as a distributor in 1997 and then branched out into poultry medicines and feed supplements too. By 2000, the Kavi Group of companies started and began representing a number of Multi-National Companies and were importing amino acids, vitamins and minerals. They are supplying to the majority of the farmers across the South of India. The integration of various verticals began in 2006 and overall, they are currently the leading producers of broilers and eggs with a production tallying 1.7 million chicks and 0.7 million broilers a week. Ritz takes a look at the successful journey of Puvikumar’s life…
What made you choose the poultry business?
Poultry is one of the most lucrative businesses. When we started out, about 20 years back, it was very attractive and the competition was very less. Even the challenges we faced were less and this prompted us to enter this business. Whatever we are today; all the growth and expansion is due to the poultry business only. I wanted to personally give back to the industry which has helped us grow so much and that is how the Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR) began. In the initial phase, there were some hurdles when we began the QSRs but we are now the proud owners of a brand called Meat and Eat (ME)!
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I became an entrepreneur more by accident than by choice. I began by supporting my uncle’s business and then gradually turned an entrepreneur myself. There were a lot of challenges I had to face, after completing my engineering graduation. Our family is from Tamil Nadu, where the poultry business is not new. When all my friends were settling into fancy jobs, they were very curious as to why I was getting into something as common as the poultry business. However, at this point I should say rather than being just another employee, I am able to provide over 1000 people jobs through my companies. It is this sense of fulfillment that makes me happy to be an entrepreneur.
What makes you want to branch out into different avenues of business?
My general nature of willing to take risk has worked big time in this poultry business which involves a lot of risk in itself. I also believe that when you find success, you tend to take more risk. Our branching out into different avenues was not planned. We go as the water flows and take things as they come and with the support of the Universe and the Almighty’s blessings, all that we have ventured into has given us success. The biggest happiness for us is that along our journey, we have made many farmers also happy.
What were the biggest risks you have ever taken?
It is common knowledge that risks are a part of every business but in Poultry, it is even higher as the industry is very volatile. In common businesses, when you own a steel shop or a medical shop and unfortunately if you are forced to close down your business for a duration of 6 months or a year; you can come back and sell at least some of the products which have not expired yet. Whereas, in the Poultry business, if we go a third day without feeding, the entire stock would perish. The livestock business has a very high mortality rate and that is why the entire business is very risky. Not many people bravely take it up and we are one of the few who dared to. Our transparency and straightforwardness in this industry have been the backbone for our monumental growth!
How has your family supported your entrepreneurial journey?
Both my grandparents were highly decorated teachers. My mother is also a teacher and my father was a State Government auditor. My biggest challenge was to convince my parents to let me carry on in the business. I had come to Bangalore to support my uncle in his business and even after five years of being successful in the business, my father insisted me to take up a regular job stating that business was not our cup of tea. However, after his retirement, he joined us in the business and experienced our growth firsthand. The second leg of our journey started when he became convinced. He became an integral part of our business and was a huge inspiration for me.
The Poultry industry was hit by the avian flu and other such issues. How did you face those?
One of the best parts of being in the livestock industry is that all losses would be negated in the same financial year itself. There have been times where we have sold birds at Rs. 2 and also at Rs. 150, each. If you are honest to the business and are able to sustain through a full financial year, you are sure to win.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I would proudly say, it is my team! Starting from scratch and achieving in all divisions of the Poultry business in such a short span, is only possible because of a strong team. We set a goal and work towards it. Even the goals are not set by individuals but by a panel consisting of highly qualified and experienced members from the industry. We will find an objective and brainstorm on the potential of this objective within the panel and each individual would then work hard to achieve that. We are blessed to have a wonderful team and I believe this team strength is what sets us apart from everybody else.
What is next in the pipeline for Kavi Group?
Within the few years of Meat and Eat’s inception, we have achieved tremendous growth and have weathered recession & demonetization too. In the same food industry, there are many brands which have and are closing down but we are still growing strong at a rapid pace. There is very high recognition for the ME brand in the market and this is mainly because we think differently. Meat and Eat now has a presence across the South of India and we have also now come out with three other brands. Our CEO has introduced the Kebab-istaan brand which we launched recently. We also have Gio Pizza and Chai Talkies. Our objective is to achieve 1000 outlets for all these four brands, within the next five years!
Tell us about your family…
Unfortunately, I lost my father two years back. My mother is with us. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and two kids. We are a joint family. Though I am the face of the business, my uncle, Mr. Kanakachalam, and my sister, Ms. Guhappriya J, have contributed a lot being the backbone of the business. My kids are in boarding school and they are very happy to be there, and during their vacations, the entire family travel together on holidays. My son is very interested in business and wants to get into Hotel Management in view of preparing himself for the industry. My sister’s daughter wants to perceive Medicine as her profession and my daughter is in fifth grade.
How do you unwind from your stress?
Every single day is filled with work and happiness. I spend most of my time with my team and we enjoy our work. We also end up having team activities. There are times when we gain or lose crores in a single day. Money is immaterial as it might come and go but the team matters. We work as a unit, struggle as a unit and enjoy as a unit! Also, I don’t carry forward any stress to the next day.
At no point of time in my entrepreneurship have I thought of quitting and going to work. I am also happy to help bring out many other entrepreneurs with just Rs. 10-15 lakhs as an investment.
A few words for budding entrepreneurs…
Be humble! Believe in what you can do and keep trying till you achieve your goal! There is no replacement for hard work. Keep trying and doing your duty with hard work and I believe success WILL follow you! Being a young entrepreneur myself, I would suggest that putting your heart and soul into what you believe, will make you successful. Gratitude is a very positive emotion and with all my heart, I thank all our customers for bringing us to where we are!