In this episode of The Balls Of Steel Show, our host Sarthak Varshney brings another exciting entrepreneurial story. In conversation with Viraj Patel, he talks about introducing the B2C segment in the pre-existing B2B. This assisting him in launching a new product into the Indian market.
WHAT IS THE BUSINESS THAT YOU ARE RUNNING BECAUSE OF WHICH WE CAN SAY THAT YOU HAVE THE BALLS OF STEEL?
We are into lots of businesses. Basically, into herbal extraction, and the brand created is DOT SHOT, an anti-hangover drink. It is completely natural, extracted from turmeric
VIRAJ, TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
We come from a family business background. Since childhood, I’ve been seeing family in businesses. Starting with a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering and stayed in the USA for two years for my Masters.
I came back to India to expand my family business. Therefore, I joined my business into manufacturing botanical extracts and hydro-chemical.
I came across the idea of making Anti Hangover Shot. That got us thinking to bring such products to India because there is nothing in anti-hangover drinks. So our perspective changed, and we thought to formulate something.
That is how I started my journey for DOTSHOT in 2015. We thought over the formulation formulated this water-soluble extract.
We made sure to make the product a fun drink, sort of. It’s not like any medicine or something. People should love to have it. This took more than a year to launch, and we launched in 2016. And then onwards we’ve been expanding in India and overseas.
LET’S DIVE DEEP INTO THE CONVERSATION WITH VIRAJ TELL, TELL US ABOUT YOUR MINDSET THAT DEVELOPED IN YOU TO DO A BUSINESS
I come from a business family. And from childhood days, I’ve seen father and uncle working on different business projects. I find it to be fascinating. My father is in the construction business, my uncle in the chemical business. And that is why I did chemical engineering because I thought to join the chemical business. And that time, we had set up another extraction business. Then I thought to join this because this is something new.
We always had planned to go from the B2C plan. So we came with this unique product. I always had to go to the USA and study, but eventually, I had to come back to India and join the business.
PICKING UP FROM THAT DID YOUR PARENTS TOLD YOU THAT YOU DON’T NEED DEGREE TO GET INTO BUSINESS? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO STUDY HIGHER?
In my family it was like I have to study otherwise you’ll not be given a respectable position in your own company.
Most of the business is technical so just sitting on the company, you’ll not understand the in-depth technical part. I was good at studies, and I thought there’s no point in going into business, and without education, I would not know technical details.
MOVING ON IN CONVERSATION WITH VIRAJ PATEL, HOW DID YOU START WITH THIS, IS IT YOUR OWN MONEY, AND HOW DID YOU DO THAT?
DOTSHOT idea came in 2015, and we took some unsecured loans from the company to create a brand. DOTSHOT has such a structure where we are allotted a stipulated amount of money. With that, we have to present monthly reports about our expenses.
I was answerable for each spending. There was a rigorous check about how am I doing, how the investment is being made. The family, in the end, was also happy because a brand is being established.
SO MOVING ON VIRAJ, AS IN COLLEGE LIFE EVERYONE WANTS TO DO SOME STUFF AND EARN, DID YOU DO ANYTHING?
Graduation was pretty much fun! When I went to the USA. I use to work in the canteen like a chef. So, there have done a lot of work in the canteen, kitchen, and counters.
It did a lot as I used to pay my fees for life, which is something self-satisfaction in the end. And on the business side, it opened up my mind as when I was working on counters, and I realised many innovative products are also so sold. And if one pays 4-5 dollars for one energy bar, that got me thing about the B2C market. Especially the packaging part in America, they may be making any product, but their packaging would be five stars.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE THAT CAME INTO YOUR JOURNEY AND WHAT YOU LEARNED?
The concept of this product is very new, and there was more excitement rather than any fear. Fear got after we launched it due to demonetization, and we launched it just two months before demonetization.
The biggest one is demonetization as we launched the product in September end and it came in November. At that time, we have developed the entire distribution channel, and the product is new, so no one gives you advance payment. We wanted to get this product in the market, and there’s a lot of costs involved, and you need to explain to the consumer about the product. And it’s difficult to explain anti-hangover drink, and in India, it’s a challenge to explain to people what is hangover as it is of various types of symptoms.
We invested heavenly in promotions in the period of one and a half months and went out to all events, and then this demonetization happened.
We did a lot of marketing then also, we did sunburn, supersonic and did a lot of shows in Mumbai and Pune, and then we took Goa into the category and then we took entire India. The response was great that kept us motivated that sales would come eventually.
It affected a lot in Covid times also in which only essentials were being opened in Mumbai, and the rest was shut down.
SO MOVING ON IN CONVERSATION WITH VIRAJ PATEL, WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING ON YOUR FIRST TRANSACTION?
It was very satisfactory. After a few days, we saw our first sale on Amazon. It was self-assuring, and I felt happy after the same consumer repeated the product.
As we had made a lot of effort on design, taste, flavour, smell, and time to design the product.
During the product trial, we assembled a few people in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. I gave them a drinking party, and it was difficult, like we need to restrict them. And check the effectiveness of the product, and that was a little funny. We did not like to promote any alcohol, and all it’s just it will help in a hangover.
WHAT WERE YOUR MONEY MANAGEMENT PLANS AND WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET BEHIND IT?
During demonetization, we expanded. That time we started marketing that product overseas and got a response from there. It was a long process to launch in the overseas market.
MOVING AHEAD IN THE CONVERSATION VIRAJ, DID YOU FACE ANY ISSUES WHILE HIRING PEOPLE IN DOTSHOT?
We have been hiring in B2B, but in B2C, it’s a grey area. We have experience in sorting people. It did open my eyes that it is not easy to work in fields in the sun.
Initially, I was personally involved and used to go with salespeople to which type of store it is. And it helped me in the entire distribution of channels.
HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS?
I’ve been very close to two of my friends. I know I wouldn’t get any valuable feedback but at least for internal peace. And I use to read a lot of books years back and now also read.
Initially, I use to read books related to production, not an educational one. I like to read a few spiritual books by Devdatt Patnaik. This is my personal interest. Besides this, I like to read interesting books also. Currently, read the book “A bottle of lies” based on the Indian Pharma industry”. So I like to read such kinds of books.
They do help me too! Not in B2C but in my B2B business, it does help me a lot. I was reading this book “CEO of a factory” on the HUL managers and all, which gives you eye-opening things about how the managers are given ground training. After that, they come up with the level of a Manager.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH MONEY PROBLEMS?
Even though we come from a family where there have never been any money issues, but we’ve always been grounded in our life.
My grandfather says, ‘simple living, high thinking,’ and that is what we still follow. We tend to live normal lives.
For money management, we always work as per the project reports about bringing this product, how much we’ll be spending on the market, sales, and distribution. Then we got a total sum up and took as per requirement.
So it’s like, I don’t invest in other fields but my own business only! This is purely a kind of investment kind of ideology.
HEADING TOWARDS THE END OF CONVERSATION WITH VIRAJ PATEL, HOW WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF AS MONEY MINDED PERSON OR NOT?
No! I’m not a money-minded person. I don’t care about money but at the same time, I know if I have less money, how to live with it! I tend to live a very simple life.
We have our own CSR organization under the name of our great grandfather K Patel. We do a lot of activities like we use to fund a lot of schools near our factory. Because education has always been our primary objective, our ideology is kids should be more skilled and aware of the world. We provide them with labs and vocational training labs; there is “Graph Sanskar Kendriya”.
I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER INSTANCE WHICH HAS GIVEN YOU A LESSON?
We do a lot of exhibitions in the US for our B2B business. So in one of the instances, I was initially like I’ve studied in the US, so I know US people better than my uncle and full of confidence. And I was in one of the exhibitions and talking to a US guy about football, then he asked me a technical question, and I was like what to answer!
Then, I wasn’t much involved in that. And my uncle was standing there and smiling at my situation.
I knew without technical knowledge of the field, you cannot talk to people, and secondly, we should not ignore other people’s experience and learn from them.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE TAGLINE DHANDHO NI SOCH, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT IS YOUR DHANDHO NI SOCH?
My Dhandho Ni Soch is, ‘Paisa Banna Chahiye Chahe Koi Bhi Business Ho!’ This is the simplest thing, whenever I take any project. We always have futuristic SOCH for all the products.
REACHING TOWARDS THE END IN CONVERSATION WITH VIRAJ PATEL, WHICH BUSINESS MANTRA TO OUR LISTENERS, WHAT WOULD BE THAT BE?
Focus on the things you’re doing and one at a time. Secondly, think calmly and take decisions accordingly.
So with this, we wrap up another insightful episode of The Balls Of Steel Show. In conversation with Viraj Patel, he gave us a glimpse of how he moved from the B2B to the B2C segment with his such an observant nature. His ability to acquire ideas from his ambience helped him launch a rare product in the Indian Market!