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Kishore Biyani ,an Outsider to India’s Corporate arena and dalal street. A Boy from traditional traders family. A “rebel “in all possible sense of the word and a fantastic- people’s guy.
Probably he was the original Jeff Bezos( Founder Amazon) or Sam Walton( Owner Walmart) OF India.
Many a times these days we are in awe of the new generation ITPRenures and their billion dollar and million dollar headlines. But Kishore Biyani was way ahead of time and thoughts of his peers and competitors.
Many might not take him seriously for a award function or page 3 party but that’s how he is and he wants it that way no glitz, no glamour and he loves to be unknown and roam around his own stores like Big Bazaar, shopper stop, and other stores observing people ,studying by watching and listing to them .Finding new ways and means to give the end customers reasons to shop more and make a windfall sales. Even though this was not a completely new idea and Sam Walton was till then had become famous for these sorts of marketing cameos, Still it was not at all easy to Indianise this discounting retail model. More so when India was still under the shadow of the reforms effect of 1991 and in transition stage from saving class to earning class .This was actually proved to be beneficial to Big Bazaar and pantaloons.
This book is fascinating journey of an entrepreneur who essentially broke all the rule of traditional Indian business and made the reforming India its asset. He was the first Indian retail listed company to not look at branding as expense but as investment and asked included brand value ,valuation in balance sheet and further went on to liquidate it by asking bankers to loan against the value of the brand as well.
Since prior to this book I had read ‘ Made in America –Biography of Sam Walton Richest man in the world before Bill Gates.I was a shade disappointed to find that the whole books lay out and the way it had other peoples comments and incursions were done was a copy of “Made In America”(Content obviously was original).
If you have not read “Made in America” and you are reading “ It happened in India “ You will love the style of writing and how it all unfold and that’s what really matters.
Ironically ,it dose tell a story in itself that, If People who knew Sam Walton would meet Kishore Biyani they will say-“ de ja vu”.
History dose repeat itself here, but would have scaled to the height of Walmart too, had it not been for the E-commerce massacre and technology replacing all the main aspects and only price becoming the decision maker.I am tempted to forward some excerpts from book just to give you the flavour of the book.
“Building an enterprise is a dream, a vision and in my case it kept growing every time I reached a new milestone. The one crucial thing that helped me was my ability to think in terms of a mass customer base and focus on a single minded pursuit of growth.
I just couldn't think anything elitist .I have never understood people who spend a few lakh on a pen or a watch. None of my business will ever cater them. Instead , my biggest fear is getting in to situation where I lose touch with the public. I am almost paranoid about it. Our business is entirely dependent on observing the people , understanding their emotions and catering to their needs it has been our imperative as a mass player.”
De ja vu- Sam Walton, but he- is -like- that: he is not imitating any one. And you can’t imitate and succeed; you have to brutally honest to yourself in every sense to succeed. Also two staggering points common for successful entrepreneurs, going for scale -which he stated as, single minded focus on growth. And second is “observing people” which these days referred as “Goggle analytics”, funny how things are same only methods to it change.
Another paragraph is extremely illustrating that how failing is crucial in succeeding in business and all start-ups should embrace it with utter positivity.
He quotes this when he had just started ,when he was not in retail and India under Rajiv Gandhi the then PM was reforming India ,”I Started looking around for big ideas that could be idea for new india that was emerging. Much to the displeasure of my family and well-wishers, I got my hands dirty in multiple business all at the same time. Some of these business were moderately successful but most of them had to be closed down after a few years. However, in some way or the other, each business contributed to my understanding of customers and formed the foundation of what is today our company.”
Reminds me of Steve jobs, connect the dots theory.
Very essence of businesses to triumph is to struggle and strengthen by exposing our weakness to the world, so that ,we are ready to take on the real challenges that need more than just personal strength, character and will.