In the world of business, success is often born from adversity. It’s about facing challenges head-on, weathering storms, and emerging stronger than ever. This is precisely the story of Shalimar Paints, one of India’s oldest and most iconic paint manufacturing brands. At its helm is Minal Srivastava, Vice President-Strategy, Growth, and Marketing, a visionary leader who has played a pivotal role in steering Shalimar Paints through turbulent times. With a legacy dating back to 1902, Shalimar Paints has been an integral part of India’s journey, painting some of its most iconic landmarks. However, the path to success has not been without its share of obstacles, including two devastating fire incidents and the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this comprehensive 2000-word article, we delve deep into the remarkable journey of Shalimar Paints and the exceptional leadership of Minal Srivastava.
The Legacy of Shalimar Paints
Shalimar Paints‘ story begins over a century ago when it was founded in 1902 by AN Turner and AC Wright in Howrah, West Bengal. It quickly became a trusted name in the paint industry. In 1928, Pinchin Johnson & Associates of the UK took control of the company. However, the ownership changed hands multiple times until it was finally acquired by the O.P. Jindal Group and the Hong Kong-based S.S. Jhunjhnuwala Group in 1989.
The company’s tagline, “Rang Desh Ka,” reflects its deep-rooted connection with the nation. Shalimar Paints has contributed significantly to India’s architectural landscape, with its paints adorning landmarks like the Howrah Bridge, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Salt Lake Stadium, and AIIMS.
The Fire Incidents:
- The First Fire – Howrah Plant (2014)
In 2014, tragedy struck Shalimar Paints when a massive fire engulfed its manufacturing plant in Howrah. This incident brought the company to a standstill, and the road to recovery seemed long and arduous. The damage was extensive, and the challenges were daunting.
The Howrah plant, which had been a symbol of Shalimar Paints’ heritage, lay in ruins. The fire had not only consumed infrastructure but also tested the resilience of the entire organization.
- The Second Fire – Nasik Plant (2016)
Just when Shalimar Paints was slowly recovering from the first fire incident, disaster struck again in 2016. This time, it was the Nasik plant that fell victim to a devastating fire. It was a heart-wrenching setback for the company and its employees.
The Nasik plant had been a crucial part of Shalimar Paints’ production network, and its loss compounded the challenges posed by the earlier fire incident in Howrah. The organization found itself at a crossroads, battling not just fires but also the uncertainty of the future.
- Upholding Trust in Tough Times
These fire incidents disrupted Shalimar Paints’ operations significantly. Production came to a halt, and the company’s distribution network suffered. However, what remained unshaken was the trust that customers had in Shalimar Paints. It was this trust that fuelled the company’s determination to bounce back.
The faith that customers had in Shalimar Paints was a testament to the brand’s enduring legacy and commitment to quality. Customers understood that the company was facing extraordinary challenges and stood by it during these trying times.
The Steady Comeback:
Despite the challenges posed by the fire incidents, Shalimar Paints remained committed to its customers. The organization rallied together, with every level of the company dedicated to upholding its promise of service, even in the face of limited production capacity. A year and a half after the setbacks, Shalimar Paints made a triumphant comeback. In FY 2019, it recorded an impressive turnover of Rs 367.3 crore. With a network of over 30 depots and service to more than 5,000 dealers across India, the company strategically covered the length and breadth of the country to ensure efficient reach.
Shalimar Paints’ revival was not just about recovering lost ground but also about emerging as a stronger and more resilient organization. The lessons learned from adversity became the building blocks of a brighter future.
Shalimar Paints in a Competitive Landscape:
In a highly competitive Indian paints industry valued at Rs 50,000 crore, Shalimar Paints occupies a distinctive position with a market share of approximately five percent. The industry is dominated by major players like Asian Paints, Berger Paints, and Kansai Nerolac Paints. What sets Shalimar Paints apart is its unwavering focus on strengthening distribution channels and secondary sales. Furthermore, the company has a long history of contributing to various social causes related to education, health, environment, and community development.
Shalimar Paints’ commitment to social responsibility goes beyond business objectives. It’s about making a positive impact on the community and supporting marginalized sections of society. The company’s initiatives seek to bring about measurable, long-term change in areas that matter the most.
The Unpredictable Challenge – COVID-19:
Just as Shalimar Paints was recovering from the setbacks caused by the fire incidents, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as an unprecedented global challenge. The nationwide lockdown forced the company to once again halt its production. The pandemic posed unique challenges that transcended the boundaries of business continuity. It required organizations to adapt rapidly to new ways of working, ensuring the safety of employees, and supporting communities in need.
Minal Srivastava acknowledges the uncertainty that surrounds the future, saying, “This time, not only us but no one in the industry knows how the sector would be back in shape again. But yes, we are more nimble now and in a fighter phase. We will wait for things to settle before taking any step forward in the business.”
A Cautious Approach to the Future:
As Shalimar Paints looks ahead, it plans to expand its geographical footprint while remaining cautious in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. The company aims to expedite the opening of new dealerships to sustain its growth trajectory and intends to increase its workforce to boost secondary sales.
Through adversity and uncertainty, Shalimar Paints continues to demonstrate unwavering commitment to its customers and the community. Minal Srivastava‘s leadership, coupled with the collective determination of the organization, has played a pivotal role in Shalimar Paints’ journey of overcoming challenges and emerging stronger with each trial.
The story of Shalimar Paints is a testament to the indomitable spirit of resilience and determination. Through a century of challenges, the company has not only survived but thrived. Minal Srivastava‘s leadership has been instrumental in this journey, exemplifying the idea that true success lies
Srikumar Misra: Revolutionizing the Dairy Industry with Milk Mantra’s Disruptive Journey
In 2011, the dairy landscape in Odisha faced a formidable challenge – booth capturing by the state milk cooperative. Amidst this, Srikumar Misra, a former director of mergers and acquisitions at Tata Global Beverages, envisioned a transformative solution. His brainchild, Milk Mantra, emerged in August 2009 as a dairy start-up poised to disrupt traditional dairy business models.
Misra’s vision for Milk Mantra was clear – to revolutionize the dairy sector by infusing technology and challenging the low-margin, high-volume norm. The journey began with the introduction of Milky Moo, a premium brand that promised a unique value proposition – no more boiling required. This claim was backed by a groundbreaking three-layer ‘Tripak’ packaging, ensuring freshness by preventing light damage.
Despite being priced 20 percent higher than competitors, Milky Moo found success, tapping into the market’s demand for a mass-premium brand. Srikumar Misra’s strategic decision to focus on ethical sourcing and transparency further differentiated Milk Mantra in the competitive dairy industry.
The disruption continued with a novel approach to milk supply. Misra adopted a hyperlocal strategy, employing a fleet of 40 delivery boys to directly reach consumers in Bhubaneswar, bypassing traditional retail chains. Although challenging without the convenience of a mobile app, this approach allowed Milk Mantra to establish a direct connection with consumers, leading to rapid expansion beyond the city.
From delivering to 600 households daily, Milk Mantra’s success soared. Revenue jumped from ₹4 crore in FY12 to ₹44 crore in FY14, and within the next three years, it surpassed ₹150 crore. By FY19, the company achieved the milestone of being a ₹200-crore entity. Despite a decade-long journey, FY21 marked the first profitable year, with a profit of just under ₹10 crore.
Srikumar Misra’s commitment to governance, transparency, and ethics set Milk Mantra apart in an industry notorious for non-structured practices and compromised quality. While the journey to profitability took time due to the inherent costs of establishing high governance standards, Misra prioritized building a company with enduring values over immediate profitability.
Investors, including Aavishkaar Venture Capital and Fidelity Growth Partners, commend Milk Mantra’s performance, considering it a potential model for launching disruptive consumer brands in India. Srikumar Misra’s conscious capitalism approach, combining profitability with social impact, resonates with stakeholders and sets new benchmarks for the industry.
The strategic choice to stay regionally focused rather than pursuing aggressive pan-India expansion reflects Misra’s nuanced understanding of the Indian market. Despite having the backing of marquee investors, he emphasizes the importance of avoiding capital-driven expansion in a market like India, advocating for a measured and sustainable growth approach.
Milk Mantra’s journey also underscores the significance of learning from setbacks. Misra’s decision to pull back on the MooShake venture in 2016 highlights the importance of balancing boldness with practicality. The company’s pivot to a profitable model before aggressive growth showcases the wisdom of consolidating strengths in the home market before venturing wider.
As Milk Mantra introduces the Daily Moo subscription app, aiming to become East India’s largest subscription-based food app, Srikumar Misra’s vision remains clear – to woo and ‘moo.’ His commitment to the regional playbook and building a strong, socially responsible brand sets a precedent for other entrepreneurs in the ever-evolving Indian business landscape.
Shaping the Future of Healthcare: Practo’s Visionary Duo – Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal
In the realm of digital health innovation, Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal, the dynamic duo behind Bengaluru-based Practo, have emerged as pioneers, revolutionizing how individuals approach their healthcare needs. Their journey, marked by foresight, technological prowess, and a commitment to holistic healthcare, has propelled Practo to the forefront of the Indian healthtech landscape.
One of Practo’s standout moments came during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis acted as a catalyst, accelerating the adoption of digital health solutions. Shashank ND, the co-founder and CEO, recalls how the growth they anticipated over several years unfolded in a matter of months. The pandemic not only heightened the demand for online consultations but also unveiled a significant shift in people seeking mental health support more willingly.
Abhinav Lal, the co-founder and CTO, emphasizes that India is experiencing a revival in understanding the interconnected nature of health issues. Practo seized this opportunity to position itself as the go-to online platform for a holistic approach to healthcare, going beyond episodic consultations.
Practo’s journey into the digital health space has been multifaceted. The platform, which initially focused on aiding users in finding and consulting with doctors, witnessed a seismic shift during the pandemic. Online consultations saw a massive surge, with tele-consultations spiking by three times over the previous year in 2020. The company’s strategic investments in technology paved the way for seamless real-time appointment bookings, with over 25,000 doctors now providing online consultations. Practo’s commitment to training these doctors through its ‘academy’ underscores its dedication to maintaining high standards in online healthcare delivery.
Beyond consultations, Practo diversified into at-home diagnostics and medicine delivery, complementing its core offerings. The comprehensive software stack developed by Practo, fueled by investments and strategic acquisitions, stands as the largest in India, setting it apart from competitors.
Practo’s vision extends beyond merely facilitating doctor-patient interactions. Shashank ND envisions a shift from episodic healthcare to a more continuous and holistic model. The platform encourages users to view their healthcare needs comprehensively, storing historical information about illnesses and medications. This approach aligns with the changing landscape of healthcare in India.
Government initiatives, such as the National Digital Health Mission and plans for a unified health ID, bolster Practo’s mission. These initiatives, likened to the impact of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) on digital payments, create a conducive environment for a paradigm shift in managing health data.
As Practo looks to the future, Abhinav Lal emphasizes the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in augmenting the capacity and capabilities of doctors. While acknowledging the human-centric nature of healthcare, Lal envisions technology bridging the gap in India’s doctor-patient ratio, especially beyond metropolitan areas. Practo’s recent product, ‘Practo Plus,’ a subscription offering various services, has garnered traction among both individuals and corporate businesses. Lal sees AI and ML as tools to address India’s healthcare challenges, intervening early in lifestyle diseases and enhancing the overall health infrastructure.
While Practo isn’t profitable yet, the trajectory suggests a promising future. Gross margins have increased from 10 percent in FY18 to 35 percent in FY20. An IPO, potentially three to four years away, looms on the horizon, as Practo continues to scale its operations. Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal’s venture, born out of a need to streamline healthcare access, has evolved into a comprehensive ecosystem. As Practo pioneers innovations in digital health, their commitment to doing good while building a sustainable business positions them as trailblazers in India’s healthtech landscape.
Empowering Minds: Richa Singh’s YourDost App Redefining Mental Well-being in Corporate India
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only reshaped our understanding of physical health but has also brought to the forefront the importance of mental well-being. In the wake of financial uncertainties, shifting relationship dynamics, and reduced human interactions, a surge in mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression has prompted the development of apps dedicated to supporting mental well-being.
One such impactful app is YourDost, founded by Richa Singh in 2014. Unlike many mental health apps available to individuals, YourDost operates on a subscription-based model exclusive to companies. With clients including esteemed organizations like the CK Birla Group, Capillary Technologies, upGrad, and educational institutes such as IIT Delhi and IIT Madras, YourDost is making significant strides in addressing the mental health needs of the corporate sector.
In the past year, YourDost has witnessed a substantial increase in sessions related to issues such as anxiety, anger, frustration, and loneliness. Richa Singh, the founder, notes a 120 percent rise in the number of sessions taken by working professionals as lockdowns were initiated. The platform, catering to more than 100 corporates in the past year, has proven to be a crucial resource for employees dealing with the psychological impact of the pandemic.
YourDost stands out with its subscription-based model, providing companies access to over 900 experts available round the clock. The platform addresses a myriad of issues triggered by COVID-19, emphasizing anxiety management, relationship challenges, and burnout prevention. The app’s success is underscored by its ability to engage more than 100 corporates and secure $1.6 million in two rounds of funding.
Aneesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO of Capillary Technologies, one of YourDost’s earliest angel investors and clients, highlights the growing acknowledgment of mental health issues in the corporate sector. He sees a substantial opportunity for platforms like YourDost in the post-pandemic era, as corporations seek a scientific approach to emotion wellness programs as a long-term investment.
In a country where mental health resources are limited, with only 30 psychiatrists for every 10 million people, YourDost plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap. The app provides an avenue for individuals to seek professional help conveniently and confidentially. It is a welcome addition to the growing ecosystem of mental health apps, which includes platforms like Mindhouse, Evergreen Club, and ThinkRight.me, addressing the mental well-being of individuals.
Mindhouse, launched in April 2020, focuses on making meditation and yoga-based mental wellness solutions accessible and affordable. Pooja Khanna, co-founder of Mindhouse, notes the tremendous uptake of live interactive classes, offering content on guided meditation, yoga, natural soundscapes, music, podcasts, and sleep stories. With over 2 lakh downloads since its launch, Mindhouse has become a valuable resource for users combating stress and anxiety.
As the mental health app landscape evolves, it’s essential to recognize their role as complementary tools rather than substitutes for professional mental health care. Tanuja Babre, program coordinator at iCALL, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), emphasizes that while these apps are resourceful, they cannot replace professional mental health care. However, they serve as valuable supplements for symptom management and self-awareness.
Apps like YourDost are crucial contributors to breaking the stigma associated with mental health in India. With its corporate-focused approach, the platform not only addresses immediate concerns but also lays the groundwork for a broader mental health movement. Richa Singh’s vision has positioned YourDost as a catalyst for change, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for mental well-being in corporate India.
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