A peculiar person I met “Humble beginnings seldom pay”- When I was traveling to Mumbai from Vadodara by train during last summer vacation along with my parents, met one young man who was sitting opposite to my seat. He was looking good and obviously confident also. After passing few minutes he asked about me and thus started our interaction. He was none other than Mr. Sarath Babu, who is known as a “mealion”boy. As mentioned in starting, “Humble beginnings seldom pay”. But E Sarath Babu will not buy that. For this 28-year-old, rags-to-riches are not just another adage.
It’s his very foundation of success. From a slum in Chennai to the top echelons of academia with an enrolment in chemical engineering at BITS Pilani and IIM-A, and now as the steward of his Food King Catering business, Sarath has come a long way. His humility perhaps made him reject several high-brow offers from MNCs after his MBA. That, in a way, was the genesis of Food King Catering—with paltry Rs 2,000 seed money. I was really impressed by his politeness; simplicity and clarity about his way carry forward in life.
He told me that today, his food business spans six locations with a Rs. 9-crore turnover and have a plan to increase the same to Rs. 20-crore by end of the year. For Sarath, his mother, who once sold idlis on the pavements of Chennai and worked as an ayah, is a pillar of strength. “Her sacrifice eggs me on”, says Sarath. Apart from bringing up four children, Sarath’s mother worked as a cook for the mid-day meal scheme for 11 years and got paid just a rupee each day. He was really struggled during his study period and only source of income was his mother’s income.
He was well aware that he should do very well in his studies and get sufficient income for him as well his family. He studied hard and completed his engineering and further MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. It was the real example of success which is over coming inadequate resources. I remember that often we used to misuse the facilities we are having and complain about silly things. We have good house to reside, good cloths to wear, bycicle to ply to school and tuition and pocket money whenever demanded. Still not satisfied!!.
Now I am sure that how much high the level of struggle you have in life, your progress also will be very high in life, and the same will make a strong foundation of your future life and guide you towards positive growth. Mr. Sarat still remembering that as his mother’s income was insufficient, she mom sought refuge in the food business to supplement her meager income. As she rolled dough in the form of idlis, dosas, bhajjis and appams, it was Sarath’s job to sell them in the neighbourhood. “For kids living in a slum, idlis for breakfast is something very special,” says Sarath even to this day.
A natural entrant to the food business with acquired acumen in childhood, Sarath has trained his sight higher. From the current 250 people, he’s aiming to recruit 2,000 people by next year, “and probably, 5,000 in the next two years”. This shows his vision, mission and planning accordingly. In everybody’s life all should have a clarity that what should do and where we will stand after certain period. That is first set your goal, plan accordingly and act immediate. This will surely ensure your success.
Initially, his catering business, with two units in Ahmedabad, was Rs 2,000-per -day in the loss. “But I burnt the midnight oil literally to get a solution,” Sarath told me. It’s worth a mention here that Sarath spent most of his childhood in the dark, without electricity. He focused on volumes rather than simple servings, and started taking contracts from institutions and companies. Please remember that if you want to grow think big and do big. To bag an order, Sarath even slept on the platform of Mumbai’s railway station. “That’s one of my finest nights I’ve ever had,” Sarath reminisces.
Today, Food King is targeting 100 clients, including 50 top institutions and 50 corporates for the snacks business — South Indian, North Indian and Chinese food. Food business is not just about selling but also taking care of quality and the people associated with it, Sarath points out. He now envisions FoodKing’s Palace (food malls) across cities where all kinds of Indian food would be served at “economical rates”. And how does he manage his team? “I ask them to write their dreams on a piece of paper and advise them to think of developing themselves,” says Sarath.
As mentioned before, think big, plan and act. You are the best judge of you, not any one else. Make clear strategy and homework before getting in to anything in life. The will boost your morale and confidence level. I was indeed impressing upon how he is taking advantage of reverse situations also. Is he really worried about inflation or price-rise in food products? When most of the restaurants have increased their prices, Sarath sees an opportunity to serve at a cheaper price. “Sourcing from one place makes a lot of difference.
I will tap this opportunity,” says Sarath. Today, he drives a Chevrolet to take his mother for a ride to oversee his business units in Chennai. “Next, I want to build a house for my mother,” says Sarath. Remember- don’t panic on when adverse situations happens in life, treat it as an opportunity and learn to convert the same in to success. I still remember this peculiar person I met during my journey which has really improved my thought process and given me a clear cut clarity how to think, plan and act on the things we want to do in life.