Archive for June, 2007

are we all like a sugarcane?

June 23, 2007

0 to 1700 (Rs. crore) in just dozen years!

A spectacular success story of Narendra Murkumbi will really inspire budding entrepreneurs.Narendra – an IIM-A alumnus and a chela of the Maverick Prof. (about whom I wrote earlier) addressed few of us here at IIM-A today (23rd June)

Here is the story in words of the Prof. himself

‘Narendra [PGP, 1992-94] – [was] a very simple, unassuming and humble person. He was a good student, not one of the toppers, not at all talkative, very quiet, almost taciturn. One day he said – sir, i want to spend a day with you, from morning to night, to see what is the life of an entrepreneur. I said ok, so one day he came home at 6.30 am and was with me whole day and I dropped him at IIM late night. I think that day he decided the course his life will take.

He belongs to Belgaum. He took a very bold decision not to sit for placement. One day he said that he will start a factory to make neem insecticides. I got worried – is this a new fancy thing which will take too much effort to develop, to manufacture, then to promote. Sometimes new entrepreneurs should not start something radically new and fancy – it may take too much time and money to get the concept accepted. So in 1995 I went and spent three days in ICRISAT at Patancheru near Hyderabad (International Crop Research Institue for Semi-Arid Tropics) with Dr HC Sharma (entomologist, international neem expert) and for three days pored over boring chemistry of azadirachtin, proceedings of the first international neem conference, and what not. I was convinced that this is a good product and worth going for.

The neem factory did well, once Narendra even bid to buy over a company in USA or Germany (I was very impressed since at that time no one thought of an Indian company buying over a foreign one! The thought itself was very audacious. ). I used to calculate that if Narendra did well, does India grow enough neem to satisfy his raw material requirements, how to promote people to grow neem, etc, etc. Once it became so bad, I was so obsessed with neem that he thought I myself was going to start a neem insecticide factory and compete with him! I had then to clarify to him that no, no, I am doing all this like a father thinks of the future of his son  

Then one day he came to Ahmedabad and told me that he wants to get into sugar. I said don’t be silly, sugar is a political subject, people like Sharad Pawar are in it, you will burn your fingers, stick to neem. He heard me out but did not follow my advise, he went and purchased a second-hand sugar mill (from Andhra government, it was an old sick mill, closed, and the government had auctioned it) and physically lifted it from Andhra and got it to Belgaum, revamped it and started running it.

He did a tremendously successful job. he expanded it, he started buying raw sugar from Brazil and processing it during lean-season to keep his factory busy, today his factory is one of the best – run sugar mills in India, with the best technical parameters. Then he leased some Maharashtra Govt cooperative sugar mills (which were closed) and restarted them.

He is one of the most intelligent and bright persons in the Sugar industry, the understanding he has of the future of this industry, the technicalities, the crop aspects, international aspects – nobody else has it.

Once he installed a ‘cogen’ plant ( cogeneration – you put the remaining sugarcane after removing the juice, it’s called bagasse, into a boiler, produce steam at very high pressure, run a turbine and generate electricity, the residual steam which comes out from the turbine at about 10 bar: you use it in your factory. So you get electricity and steam – “co” generation. ). In his next visit to Ahmedabad (I often have been calling him as a guest speaker in my LEM classes – as ‘exhibit 1A’!) he told me that his entire quantity of bagasse he uses to fire the boilers, and he purchases no power from the electricity board and buys no diesel or furnace oil or LDO – all his energy requirements come from the bagasse.

Then he dropped a bombshell: he said –

Sir, God has put inside each sugarcane, the energy man needs to bring the sugar out of the cane! Similar is with human beings: God has put enough energy and other things required to bring the best out of man!

Article on him in Business World ->


We bow you, o Ma Saraswati!

June 14, 2007

Now that my better-half has also started attending B.Ed. college, all 3 of us in the family are students for this year!

Oh ma Saraswati, (Goddess of Knowledge – give us strength to finish our assignments and homework on time 🙂