The first batch of 60 Kgs of our Tetramisole Hcl, came out of my new Company Arvee in November 1988. With that, India had produced its own commercial Tetramisole for the first time. I was on top of the world, just married, free and independent with a family of my own and a business of my own.
Just as my team and I were celebrating, a shock wave hit us. Chinese suddenly started manufacturing and dumping Tetramisole into the Indian market in large quantities at half of our raw material cost. Half of our raw material cost, mind you, not half of our selling price It was cataclysmic and spelt doom.
My company went sick within a year. My first child born around the same time was blind.
After I defaulted on monthly interest payments, my lending bank warned me about legal recourse if I did not regularise the account. One of my co-investors and guarantors for the term loan from the bank started to pressurise me to get his guarantee released at once. “You put your head in Shit and call it a challenge. I want no more of it” he told me.
“You have to know when to call it quits and exit your business Mohan”, my auditor advised me.
The society will always interpret failure as your fault and mistake, even when it is because of external factors over which you have no control. The whole world then calls you a fool. This causes many talented people to walk away from their ventures prematurely.
But I was made of sterner stuff.
I quickly recognised that the only way forward for a small pharmaceutical company not to get marginalized was to specialise and create a niche for itself. That was the only sure way to occupy a permanent position in the industry dominated by large layers.
I shifted the Company’s focus from Products to process specialisation. We created differentiation in the industry through specialised process called high-pressure hydrogenation with Palladium and Platinum catalysts. My technical partner warned me I was taking a big risk.
There were very few companies for which at that time there were few companies.
Within a year, our Company became well known for hydrogenation, and many large pharma Companies came to us for job work and Custom Synthesis.
Within the next two years, we became profitable and self-sufficient.
An entrepreneurial journey is not always smooth. It carries challenges and failures and demands the entrepreneur’s passion, patience and courage and the will to push ahead. If the challenges also include external factors like cheaper imports. But they will compel you to transform your business.
When an external factor like cheaper imports becomes your nemesis make your entrepreneurial spirit your Catalyst for success.
My three lessons from my failures.
-Create a niche that sets your business apart. It could be a process, skill set or a product.
-Don’t let others force you into quitting.
-Treat failure as an opportunity to learn and bounce back