Mr. Vinay Kumar
Founder, Eco Fresh Creamery
Mr. Vinay Kumar and his partner Mr. Pramod Kumar Banakar started the Eco Fresh Creamery with a good intention of providing healthy, hormone and antibiotic free milk to people in and around Mysore in Karnataka. Their farm is located amidst lush greenery near Mysore and complies with the international standards of cow rearing. The cows in the Eco Fresh Creamery live a disease-free happy life and give nutritious milk that is immediately chilled and hygienically packed and quickly supplied directly from the farm to the kitchen. The Lacto Queen milk from Eco Fresh Creamery is a wholesome food for your family.
We interviewed Mr. Vinay Kumar regarding his entrepreneurial journey and the excerpts are given below:
1. What made you venture into the business world? By venture, I mean your founding vision behind your organization?
My main motto was providing value addition to the customer. Our company works with the vision of solving the problems of our customers. This is what which draws a line of separation between us and our competitors. We are catering to good quality and standards which were otherwise lacking in the traditional dairy industry dominated by milk co-operatives.
2. Can you tell me about the initial obstacles that you faced while setting up your business? And how did you tackle them?
Well. For me, taking my family into confidence was my primary obstacle. As you see dairy business is completely based on Agrarian model and so not much looked upon by common people. In fact, it is always treated as a small-scale business model suitable to only small farmers. To start with, there was no proper support system for new entrepreneurs entering the dairy business and there is not much done by the milk co-operatives either. So, initially, I prepared a list of successful dairy company owners and I met them to find about their business journey. So, the initial hiccups were always there.
3. Is your home environment conducive to your entrepreneurial aspirations?
Yes. Initially, I had to face a lot of skepticism as I have already spoken about dairy business and the people’s opinion about it. But gradually my family realized the importance of value creation that we were aiming at and understood the bigger picture. Then, of course, they became my primary support system.
4. What are the core values of your organization and how did it evolve to be a successful establishment?
Ok. The core value of Eco Fresh Creamery has always been creating value addition through the supply of unadulterated milk (antibiotic and hormone free) directly from the farm to the customer’s doorstep. Eco Fresh Creamery has completely evolved around this core value. We have never compromised in case of manpower or infrastructure that may hinder our Lacto Queen milk’s quality.
5. Did you build your organization with your own capital or you opted for crowdfunding or partnership?
Well. Eco Fresh Creamery is a partnership venture along with my friend Pramod, and we have funded it with our own capital and also took bank loans for it.
6. How was the competition in the market when you were initially setting up the roots for your business? And how did you outshine your competitors?
Well, the market is dominated by co-operative milk societies, but anyway, the market for our Lacto Queen milk is least affected as our milk caters to only niche customers and is only targeted at a specific audience. The people who are looking at unadulterated, antibiotic and hormone free milk will come to us. In this venture, we have complete control over the feeding of cows, the health of cows, packaging and delivery, so, there is less competition. We are different from the otherwise mechanised dairy co-operative societies.
7. As you know strong foundations make a strong building and, in this context, according to you, how important is it to have a nurturing work environment for harboring good talent?
Yes. A good team is very necessary for nurturing a successful business. Identifying people who sink into your core values of business and operate in line with them is often a daunting task. Well, in my business I require both skilled and unskilled labour. The task of finding the right people, has always been challenging and eventually, you will get the rhythm of it and you will surely end up with like-minded people.
8. If you want to pick one important factor that played a major role in your success story, what would it be?
Well, for me, family support is the biggest factor that played a major role in whatever I have accomplished today. Without their support, this would not be possible.
9. We all learn from our mistakes and you might have done at least one such mistake in your journey as an entrepreneur, what is it?
Yes. I will tell. In my opinion, we could have launched our Eco Fresh Creamery about 6 to 8 months earlier as all necessary things were in place. I would say the delayed launch could be a slight hindrance in our progress.
10. Every person craves the fruit of his/her hard work, for you which was the most successful and happy moment in your professional life?
Ok. In the present-day scenario, everybody is drinking adulterated milk laden with antibiotics and hormones. I think milk must be unadulterated, hygienic and pure and our Lacto Queen milk has all such good qualities. The moment when our consumer tasted our healthy milk and I saw that happiness on their face with peace of mind, it was the most memorable moment of my life.
11. There are moments in life when you feel that you are completely drained out. In this context, what energizes you to get up and move forward?
Dairy is a demanding industry and it is 365 days 24*7 job. We have nearly 100 cows to be milked. Our cows should be comfortable and healthy. Because healthy cows mean healthy milk and satisfied customers. Each day morning our customers will be waiting for our pure milk and this is what drives us to move forward even when we feel drained sometimes.
12. We know that the latest marketing technique when successfully adopted brings in more business, so what are you doing to market your products and services?
Well. As Eco Fresh Lacto Queen milk is a niche product, it requires special marketing techniques and a unique marketing strategy. I always opt for below the line, interactive, one-to-one and personalized marketing technique. Our collaterals are interactive, and our promotional video talks about problems in the industry and educate the consumers regarding the importance of healthy milk.
13. In the modern-day scenario, evolving technology is considered to be the backbone of any business, then how would you predict the effects of technology on your business in the next 10 years?
Ok. In the next 10 years in the dairy industry, the customers will be educated and demand more about the product. They always want minimum interaction and maximum from the product. We will be using the latest technology in the future to communicate with our customers. In future generic content will not be enough to attract customers, in fact, the content needs to be interactive and engaging to draw the attention of the customers.
14. Most of the successful entrepreneurs are avid readers, and so I heard you are, then which are the 3 books that you would suggest for reading to budding entrepreneurs?
I would suggest the budding entrepreneurs read ‘Go Kiss the World’ written by Subroto Bagchi, ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ written by Dr. Spencer Johnson and ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ written by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter for gaining business knowledge.
15. You are a successful entrepreneur and with this expertise, what would you suggest to others to make the best use of their time?
Yes. I will tell. The budding entrepreneurs should use their free time in developing a strong network of people. You can always connect with the right kind of people who can be there for you in time of need and can guide you through the day-to-day business problems.
16. ‘To grow beyond stars’ is something that literally everyone wants for their business, but can you just tell me about your near future business goals?
Well. In near future, I want to achieve a customer base of nearly 2000 customers. I also plan to supply them my Lacto Queen milk along with other milk products in the next one year.
17. Your business clients are the ones giving bread and butter to you. In this context, have you turned down any of your clients?
I always take my product to right kind of people who really want Lacto Queen milk and so there is no question of me turning down my customers. The right thing to do is to focus on the niche customers related to your product segment.
18. Now that you are successful and happy, would you like to be a mentor and give a single success mantra for the newbies in your field?
I would suggest the budding entrepreneurs to launch their products as fast as possible as soon as the arrangements are ready. They should also not have excess infrastructure than required.