Guwahati turning into entrepreneurship hub
GUWAHATI: The state capital is slowly turning into a hub for entrepreneurs with young minds wanting to return to their home state and contribute to its development. Entrepreneurs say there is ample scope to explore the field of start-ups here as it still remains one of the relatively unexplored avenues in Guwahati and the entire Northeast.
In a recent example, Guwahati-lad Pranab Talukdar started a first-of-its kind manufacturing unit of undergarments at Boragaon.
It is a franchise unit of Delhi-based TT Limited which produces men’s undergarments for supply in the entire Northeast region.
“There is a huge market for hosiery products and undergarments in the Northeast and our factory is the first one in the region as usually these products used to come here from Kolkata,” informed Talukdar.
He added that it is a very labour-intensive sector and the market for undergarments here is close to worth Rs. 500 crores with a huge employment potential. The manufacturing unit was initiated with an initial capital of around Rs. 70 lakhs.
The 33-year-old entrepreneur told G Plus that the factory, which he has taken on lease, was set up as a result of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) which was signed between the state government and TT Limited in February 2018, during the Advantage Assam – Global Investors’ Summit in the state.
Currently, his priority is to advertise aggressively for TT in the region, to make the brand popular among people.
“We are also looking for distributors to expand the market in and around Northeast, since this is the only factory which is producing undergarments here, we can provide them at much better rates than what they are receiving from outside, that’s our USP,” he said.
Born and brought up in Guwahati, like many other students from the state Talukdar, too, moved out to pursue engineering in 2003 from National Institute of Technology (NIT) Trichy. He then worked for Maruti Suzuki for a year before completing his MBA degree from IIM Shillong. This was followed by a brief stint in Hindustan Petroleum after which he got selected in a leading multinational electronics and engineering company- Robert Bosch where he spent seven years and was serving as the deputy general manager.
However, entrepreneurship had always been at the back of his mind, said Talkudar. Thus, with nine years of corporate experience, he decided to quit his cushy job and position in the MNC and decided to return to Guwahati.
He says it is imperative for bright young minds to return to Assam and in order to change and develop the entrepreneurial scenario here and create more opportunities for others.
“Family reasons also had a role to play in my decision to return as my mother was alone here. But I have always believed that if everyone moves out of the state in pursuit of their careers and nobody returns, then how will the state grow?,” said Talkudar.
He added that among his friends and colleagues from the Northeast, too, he saw a lack of interest in deciding to move back to their home states.
“Then I thought let me break this jinx and let me be among the first few to return to the state and start doing some productive work,” he mentioned adding that a supportive and understanding family makes the transition journey easier for anyone who wants to delve into entrepreneurship.
Talukdar said that his wife, whom he met in engineering college, has been a constant support throughout. “She is the one supporting the family currently while I am trying to sort out things here.”
Learnings and experiences in entrepreneurship
Talukdar says that it is definitely challenging to leave a corporate job and set up a business from scratch, especially when one is not very familiar in that field.
“One needs a lot of passion and a little bit of madness to make it in entrepreneurship,” laughed Talukdar.
He added that even though bosses have earned a bad reputation in the corporate world, at least employees have someone to refer to whenever faced with any problem. But when one manages a business, one needs to do all the crisis management on their own.
Giving an example he said, recently he sent some stock to a dealer in Fancy Bazar who refused to take it saying he wanted something else.
“Now I will only be able to send what the company has sent me, now I have to solve the situation on my own and have no one to guide me. It’s very different from the world I have come from,” he told G Plus.
Further, giving a word of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, he mentioned that since this road is filled with uncertainties and unexpected hurdles, one must always be ready with a couple of alternative plans and back-ups, in case something does not work out.
Additionally, if someone plans to set up their own business, they must be ready to face several things which will not work out, forcing them to adapt or come up with something new to deal with the situation at hand, say experts.
“Initially the business plan was that the unit would become profitable in three to four months of its operation. But now I feel like we might not be able to break even till the completion of one year,” said Talukdar.
Government support and challenges
Talukdar said that the state government is willing to support people who want to start-up a business in Assam.
The government encourages entrepreneurs and is also receptive to them provided there is a good business plan, he informed.
However, starting up a business in this region comes with its own set of challenges like the supply chain issue. “We have to get raw materials and other things from outside, as they are not available here. This takes 10-15 days to reach here and I need to keep at least one month of raw material in stock, which is an issue,” said Talukdar.
He further added that there is a huge gap in the skilled manpower sector, since there are no textile industries here. Also, he said that the working culture in the state is still not adept for industrial sector due to the lack of industries here.
The manufacturing unit currently produces vests and men’s underwear, producing 2000 units per day.
Talukdar said that he is hoping to double their production and by the end of October and are also planning to expand their workings into making t-shirts in the future.
“We have a team of 30 people here currently and all are local residents. If all goes well then we can provide more local employment,” he said.