5 companies that put Coimbatore on the entrepreneurship map in India
One of the trends that has taken hold during the coronavirus pandemic is the strengthening of local economies. With disruptions in supply chains wreaking havoc around the world, companies have been forced to seek solutions in their own backyards. This pandemic has raised awareness that Level II and Level III cities will play a bigger role in the future.
Coimbatore, often known as the “Manchester of South India” (for its enormous support to the textile industry), is growing in importance in the Tamil Nadu business community.
With programs like TN Electronics, Hardware and Manufacturing Policy 2020, TN Electric Vehicle Policy 2019, TN Combined Development Building Roads 2019 and more, the city has the potential to become one of India’s leading manufacturing hubs.
SMBShistory curated a list of companies that puts this city on the map of entrepreneurship in India.
B. Soundararajan, President and CEO, Suguna Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
In 1986, brothers GB Sundararajan and B Soundararajan started Suguna Foods Private Limited in Coimbatore as a small poultry trading company, in which they supplied equipment, poultry related health products, animal feed and from chicks to other poultry businesses.
After three years of commercial activity, they realized that many farmers were abandoning farming due to the lack of significant credit in the market. With a shortage of structured loans from banks, these farmers had to depend on private lenders. In addition, they were unable to support themselves on an unstable income.
It was then that the idea of adopting a model of contract farming struck the brothers, which eliminated the intermediaries.
In 1990, Suguna Foods, with just three farms, began contract poultry farming, in which it provided farmers with everything they needed to raise chicks – from feed to medicine, and, in turn, the farmers supplied the poultry to Suguna Foods.
Today, thanks to this model, Suguna Foods provides a stable income to more than 40,000 farmers. Primarily known for its quality chicken and related food products, it also operates around 66 feed mills across the country. The company has an annual turnover of 8,700 crore rupees.
VKC Noushad, Founder of Walkaroo
In 2013, VKC Noushad launched a brand called Walkaroo in Coimbatore, which offers products that combine fashion, quality and affordability. It offers casual shoes, formal shoes, flip flops, open shoes, slippers, sandals, etc. for men, women, children, etc.
The shoes are made in the company’s 12 manufacturing units across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and a few other locations. The units together have a production capacity of four lakh pairs of shoes per day.
In addition to launching its own website, Walkaroo registered with e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and a few others in 2019. However, Noushad maintains that it is not a brand focused on digital.
Walkaroo recorded a turnover of 1,245 crore rupees in the last financial year.
TABP snacks and drinks
Brindha Vijayakumar and Prabhu Gandhikumar, co-founders, TABP Snacks and Beverages
Prabhu Gandhikumar worked as a consultant in the United States for many years before returning to India in 2012 to join his family business of manufacturing metal castings in Coimbatore. However, he felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction.
In 2016, he explored various areas he could venture into, and drinks seemed like a good option. He realized that daily workers craved soft drinks that were both affordable and tasty, especially during the summer months like April, May and June.
In addition, according to several data reports, a daily salaried worker earns on average between Rs 9,000 and Rs 10,000 per month. Sometimes even less.
Prabhu says he has found a real gap in the market. So, Prabhu and his wife, Brindha Vijayakumar, launched Tanvi Foods, focusing only on drinks, in 2016 with two flavors – mango and apple juice priced at Rs 10.
There has been no turning back since, and the company was later converted to TABP snacks and drinks in 2018. According to figures shared by Prabhu, TABP went from Rs 92 lakh in FY17 to Rs 35.5 crore in FY21.
P Arumugam and Kanishka Arumugam
In 1980, P Arumugam, originally from Kottur, a small village in Tamil Nadu, moved to Coimbatore to continue his higher education. After graduating from college, Arumugam’s uncle KK Veluchamy suggested he open a store selling pump parts, and in 1981 the duo and their friend, MS Sundaram, started Deccan Pumps.
The pump manufacturing company began its journey as a small workshop with just nine workers, making submersible pumps for farmers. Gradually, the small group diversified into manufacturing other products such as jet pumps, submersible motors, centrifugal monoblocks, drilling submersibles, etc.
The company also underwent several changes as Arumugam completely acquired the group and became the sole owner, which paved the way for a larger holding company called EKKI Group, which includes four companies: Deccan Pumps, Deccan Enterprises, EKKI HOMA and EKKI Pumps.
It happened in 2013.
Today, the company has grown from a simple manufacturer of pumps to a water technology company.
Vijay Prasad, Executive Director, Annapoorna Masalas
Coimbatore resident Dr Damodarasamy Naidu was running a small hotel chain in 1975 when he decided to enter the spice business, with the aim of supplying them with local spice blends. He created Annapoorna Masalas which sourced spices locally, mixed them in a small unit in Coimbatore and sold them to hotels in the area, following a B2B model.
Today, Annapoorna Masalas has a total of 53 products and 101 references. After the rebranding, he launched around 12 national-regional blends, three biryani variations and nine regional Tamil Nadu blends.
In FY20, the spice blend brand garnered annual income of Rs 35 crore. Annapoorna Masalas is also available on e-commerce portals like Amazon, Bigbasket, Flipkart, and Paytm Mall.