5 Entrepreneurs who were broke when they started

Entrepreneurs who were broke when they started

The toughest part of starting a business is to figure out how to fund it. If you do not have personal funds or angel investors lined up to fund your business, it can feel like an uphill battle.

So what would you do if you don’t have cash to fund your business? Does that mean that you will never make it as an entrepreneur? In fact, it might just mean that you are even more likely to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Take a cue from these five entrepreneurs who were totally broke when they started. They managed to turn almost nothing to multimillion dollar businesses. 


1.     Dr. Arokiaswamy Velumani

We all know Dr. Arokiaswamy Velumani as founder of Rs. 1300 crore Company, Thyrocare. Mr. Velumani was born in a small village in Tamil Nadu.  He was so poor that he took Government scholarships to go to school and college. He started his career as a chemist at Gemini Capsules, a small pharmaceutical company at Coimbatore, where he earned mere Rs. 150 every month. He later joined BARC and worked there for 14 years before he decided to put his papers and channel his expertise in thyroid biochemistry to set up testing labs. Mr. Velumani owns 64% stake in Thyrocare  which makes him worth more than Rs. 2000 crores.


2.     Prem Ganpaty

Prem Ganpathy was stranded at Bandra station in Mumbai when a person accompanying him ran away with all his money. Prem had no knowledge of local language and no acquaintances in Mumbai. A fellow Tamilian guided him to a local temple and managed to get money for his return ticket to Chennai from worshipers.

Prem refused to go back and started cleaning utensils at a restaurant in Mumbai.  Later he became a tea boy at a restaurant where because of his excellent customer service, he brought business worth Rs. 1000 daily which was almost three times of the other tea boys. He later became partner at a tea shop in Vashi where one of his customers offered him 50% partnership. Later the other partner got greedy and he threw Prem out and hired an employee as 50% of profit started hurting him.

After two unsuccessful attempts to start a tea stall, he started a south Indian food stall. The stall became a huge success. He saved a couple of lakh rupees, started a new shop at Vashi station and named it Dosa Plaza. Slowly he started serving 108 types of Dosa which got him huge publicity.

Currently Dosa Plaza has more than 26 outlets and turnover has crossed Rs. 5 crores.


3.     Karsanbhai Patel

Karsanbhai Patel started making detergent powder in the backyard of his house in Ahmedabad and sell it door to door. He managed to sell detergent powder at Rs. 3 per kg with money back guarantee while the cheapest brand available in market was at Rs. 13 per kg. He was successful in selling his product to middle class and lower middle class segments.

The company which started with one man who used to sell his product door to door employs 14000 people and has turnover of more than $500 million. They are none other than Nirma.

The marketing mantra of Nirma is – Give your customer what he wants, when he wants, where he wants and at the price he wants.


4.     Daymond John


Most of us know Daymond John for his role as a shark in the popular series Shark Tank. Daymond John owns a widely popular clothing brand FUBU. But before becoming famous he used to sew hats and sell them for $10 on the streets of New York City. He alongwith his mother took a big risk by mortgaging his house for $100,000 to raise capital for his startup. He officially launched his clothing brand FUBU while he was working at Red Lobster.


 5.     Dhirubhai Ambani


The most inspiring of all is the story of Shri Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of Reliance.

He was born to a school teacher in a small town of Gujarat called Chorwad. He started his entrepreneurial journey by selling bhajiya at Girnar mountain. At the age of 16 he went to Aden, Yemen and started working as an attendant at a Gas station. He returned to India with Rs. 50000 and started his textile trading company in Mumbai.

Reliance was the first Indian company to raise money in global markets in 1992. Reliance also became the first Indian company to feature in Forbes 500 list. Today Reliance is more than 3.2 trillion Indian rupees group. 

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