From Rags To Riches: How These 4 Entrepreneurs Made It To The Top

When we see those happy lit up faces doing rounds in the news with their remarkable success benchmarks that they have set, we wish to be like them but are often oblivious to their journeys to this destination of success which include ineffable struggle, innumerable trials and some disheartening failures.

Certainly, life of an entrepreneur is no less than a roller coaster ride. Few are able to make it to the top while few fail. Let’s talk about 4 such entrepreneurs today who started small but through their determination, passion and never give up attitude, they are big figures in the industry inspiring millions of lives today.


  1. Muruganantham- Jaishree Industries Coimbatore (Kerela)

                 Philosophy of life: Do something beyond just survival

Educated up to just 9th grade, Muruganantham is an unconformist social entrepreneur who invented a revolutionary machine to make low cost sanitary napkins making huge difference in the lives of ordinary women.

Murugan’s story is a huge piece of inspiration for everyone. He was born in a very poor family in a village of Pappanaiken Pudur in Tamil Nadu. After his father’s death, he dropped out of his school and started many small businesses like selling idols and fireworks on streets and running a small tea stall. After discovering the unhygienic rags used by his wife during her menstruation, Murugan dived deep in the issue and wanted to help her and million other women who use unhygienic in lieu of expensive sanitary napkins. But this was not an easy ride for him. After many trials and errors and accusations of being mad and practicing black magic by others when experimenting on used napkins, he himself wore it to understand the whole process.

Success came to him after two years when he finally invented a machine that could be operated with minimal training.

The machine has been praised for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, and his commitment to social aid has earned him several awards. Despite offers from several corporate entities to commercialize his venture, he has refused to sell out and continues to provide these machines to self-help groups (SHGs) run by women.

 Today, his mini-machines, which can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads, have been installed in 23 of the 29 states of India.


  1. Chandubhai Virani-Balaji Wafers Rajkot (Rajasthan)

Philosophy of life: One should not think about pleasure & pain. The fact that you are born a human being is the biggest boon.

From selling chips at Astron Cinema in Rajkot to acquiring 65% market share in 5 states, Chandaubhai Virani grew big with patience, persistence & taking big risks.

Graduating from being a salaried employee at the theatre to starting his own small venture of making home-made potato chips and taking an automated plant with a loan of Rs. 50 lakh, the road to success was long and rocky for him. In 1989 the Virani brothers bought 1000 meter plot with Rs. 3.6 lack bank loan and expanded from 2 tawas to 8. After 3 years they succeeded with turnover of Rs. 3 crore. But more money only motivated Viranis to do more. In the same year they set up their first automated wafer-making plant at a cost of Rs 50 lacks. However it constantly broke. Even though it had a capacity to produce 1000 kg chips per hour, several months were without any production at all. But these was not going to take Viranis down. They worked harder, understood the problem and got it solved.

Demand exceeded what they could create, and in 1999 Balaji Wafers installed a fully automatic spud chips pass, succeeding it up with other in 2003-04 with a susceptibility of 1,200 kg per hour. Income continued to acquire and, between 2000 and 2006, Balaji captured a 90 per cent chips industry in Gujarat, and also got leaders in namkeen products. Likewise, its markets in Maharashtra and Rajasthan also increased exponentially.

Facing a lot of difficulties from logistics to staffing to management and loans repayment, Chandubhai emerged as a winner through his hard & smart work.

A small wafer business which started in a canteen of small theater with one tawa has now expanded to a big fully automated plant which covers over 85,000 sq. m and creates indirect employment for 250,000 people.

This is indeed a huge achievement.

  1. Jagjit Singh Kapoor-Kashmir Apiaries Doraha (Punjab)

       Philosophy of life: Unless you struggle, you cannot achieve anything.

Born in a middle class family in a small town of Punjab, Jagjit Singh took the road less travelled to fulfil his dreams.


He started with five honeybee colonies in the 1980s with a mere Rs. 10,000 in his pocket given by his father.

Starting honey collection was easy but finding a buyer wasn’t. There was no technology and no process available to extract honey on a mass scale then. Indian honey was not considered hygienic abroad. The impression was that bee farmers were not careful about what the bees were feeding on. Ideally, they should be feeding on seasonal flora; which makes honey more sugary and of better quality. Indian honey also had a lot of moisture. 

Kapoor set about devising his own methods, including designing driers to reduce the moisture content in honey. He travelled throughout the country with his wife, Parvinder Kaur to identify flora for feeding the bees to get good quality honey.

Initially, the orders were small. Today,he sells his honey under four brand names, the biggest of which is Little Bee.

Starting with 10 boxes of bees, Jagjit is now the largest exporter of honey with revenues of over Rs. 100 crore today.  Respect!  

  1. Sanjay Vijaykumar, SijoKuruvilla George & Pranav Suresh-Startup Village Kochi (Kerela)


Philosophy of life: An entrepreneur must work like a bull and live like a nomad.

Sanjay Vijaykumar, Sijokuruvilla & Pranav Suresh were engineering students in Trivandrum, and started off their first business by selling SIM card packages for students. Their company MobME began with mobile content for movie and TV promotion. Investment also came from wealthy Keralites in India and overseas.

But their biggest idea was to amplify their success via Startup Village: to create an innovation hub like YCombinator and ultimately create a ‘Silicon Coast’ – which eventually found support from the government and private sector. As a result, Kerala has become the first state in India with an official student entrepreneurship policy.

That’s how a business started by a group of friends from their pocket money became a runaway success. Their success mantra is to let in new people and new ideas and start a whole new celebration.

Each of these lives are no less than inspiration. 

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