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College Idea Turns Puja Kits into ₹5 cr. Revenue Business

Prakash Mundhra began making puja kits with Rs.6 lakh capital; the business today is growing 60% every year.

The idea was born during a college competition. But today, with a revenue of Rs.5 crore and the business growing 60% every year, Prakash Mundhra is glad he declined a corporate job to become an entrepreneur. His company Sacred Moments, which he founded in 2006, is the first to come up with the concept of a “puja kit”.

The idea, according to Mundhra, is to make performing a puja more convenient, especially for customers living away from their elders. “I realized that to arrange festive puja items can be cumbersome, especially when you are a nuclear family and find yourself lost,” Mundhra said.

For a regular customer, Rashi Jain, a 30-year-old homemaker, the Diwali puja kits have been a boon. “They make life easier. No involvement of pandits, and all essentials come in a kit, making it very convenient,” she says. Jain has been buying the kit for years now and recommends it to her friends and uses it very often as a gift.

Mundhra founded Sacred Moments while he was still completing his MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Management in Pune with an initial investment of Rs.6 lakh. A part of the investment came from the money he won in the college competition. The idea looked small and not many were sure the model would work. Mundhra, on the other hand, was adamant. He knew that all he had to give the idea was Rs.6 lakh and six months along with a positive attitude.

His attitude has helped him survive, as over the years competitors came and went. “What I really feel is that one needs to be passionate about the idea. Especially when you are copying the idea from another person, you will never meet his passion level,” he says.

Another important reason for his survival, he says, was diversification. “I did not limit myself to only puja kits. I got into diya (lamp) making and exporting along with textile business of my family.”

The Diwali kit was the first offering, but he now offers a total of nine, including Holi kit, Ganapati kit, Durga puja kit, griha pravesh (house-warming ceremony) kit and even a car puja kit.

A typical Diwali puja kit, the flagship product, contains around 13 non-perishable items and instructions in both English and Hindi to help facilitate the puja.

Initially, when he started off, his target customers were individuals. However, he moved on to corporate gifting as he realized that targeting the retail market was very difficult and there was a lot of local competition.

Now, his focus is completely corporate gifting; 90% of sales in India come from corporate buyers.

Initially, the seasonality of the business was a big hurdle. Many doubted his idea because of its low entry barriers and wondered if the business would be around until the next year.

“I faced my biggest hurdle after the first Diwali in 2006, when the business had just started,” Mundhra said.

When Diwali was over, the first three months were a big challenge as “I had no product to sell”. However, that’s when he realized he needed to find a way out and started registering himself on online retail trade directories. Soon he got his first export order and since then there has been no looking back.

“Though Diwali is a one-day affair, our preparation starts in April as we manufacture close to 50,000 kits,” Mundhra says.

Sacred Moments started exporting in 2008, starting dispatches in April, making it a round-the-year business.

Exports are growing at 200% a year and constitute a third of the company’s total sales. The company exports to countries including the US, the UK and Canada, where there are a large number of Indians.

“Our kits were even sold at one of the Wal-Marts in Canada,” he said.

Sacred Moments is, however, doing a lot more than just that. Mundhra is helping his family textiles business with the help of the contacts he has made and also selling diyas.

He employs four permanent workers and around 60 contract workers a day during the peak season. He plans to increase the number of permanent employees to 10 by the end of this year.

Another big challenge, he recalls, was to market the product efficiently because it is not a luxury item and involves low-cost products.

He uses social media websites, including LinkedIn, to do the marketing. “We work more like a B2B (business-to-business) model, so LinkedIn works well for us.”

For now, the company has no fund raising plans. “We have three permanent warehouses and the input costs of diyas and these kits are very less, for that we are adequately funded,” Mundhra said.

This post was first published by Mint, a strategic partner of TATA First Dot, and can be accessed here.

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