I went to the movies with my friends to watch Guru by Mani Ratnam that starred Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. It sparked a fire in me. That movie motivated me to jump into entrepreneurship. It resonates too well with my psyche it is inspirational for me. Till date, I have watched it over 3000 times and each time I gain a new perspective through it.
My story is incomplete without my father’s. I’m a fortunate second-generation entrepreneur that has seen his father fail and succeed. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I probably had no spoon at all and later earned a silver spoon. Now I aspire to build a gold spoon for my children. As in 1990, my father ventured into his first business of nylon articles which didn’t reap profits.
I invoked the spirit of entrepreneurship from my father, whose unfailing zeal never lets me give up. My parents are from IIT’s and were into good jobs before my father began with his business. The business he was into was less profitable. For ten years my house was running on my mother’s income. My father was facing challenges in establishing his business. While it knocked him down with a hammer, he kept rising. At last, in 2000-2001, he wrapped up everything and moved to Dubai to take a job as the CEO of a company.
So, to talk about our company, Shree Renga Polymers, we are into Green and Clean Technology manufacturing of polyester cable fibre. The manufacturing of the fibre takes place by recycling post-consumer PET bottle. We recycle close to ten lakh bottles per day to manufacture around twenty tons of polyester fibre.
We have our sustainable fashion brand Ecoline Clothing. Our vision is to make Ecoline Clothing, a global brand and support sustainable clothing. If consumer changes to a sustainable way of living, then automatically the supply would become sustainable, which is what we require today!
Ecoline Clothing also aims to take an adroit move towards cleansing ocean plastic too. In the ocean, we find lots of PET bottles and containers. We promote the practice of organic cotton by enabling farmers to use sustainable agricultural practices for cotton cultivation. Through Ecoline Clothing we wish to change the consumer’s mindset.
My story started from Bala Vidya Mandir, which is the premier centre of learning in Chennai. I had an immense interest in Formula1 racing and automobiles and aspired to work for Ferrari one day. In 2003-04 I joined VIT and in four years of engineering, I never had a boring day in college.
I got into TCS, which gave me a fantastic opportunity to experience the corporate culture. In 2011, after three years of experience, I got to be a Business Analyst. Then I thought of becoming the CEO when I discussed this with my senior, but he waved me off. I was very clear about what I want to be. If you treat your subconscious mind with what you want, the universe works to get you there. Much similar to what Shahrukh Khan said in Om Shanti Om.
However, the Guru incident changed my life. Now, I was testing different things how and what should I begin with.
In 2007, my father came down to central Tamil Nadu to be a COO for Textile Company from Dubai. The company had few financial problems and wasn’t able to manage the refunding. That led to its downfall. But once again the fire of entrepreneurship ignited in my father’s mind.
In 2008 we started our enterprise Shri Renga Polymers. In 2011, I quit my job and joined him. I wanted to learn first and then take my business to new heights. After the success of the first one, we expanded and established another plant.
By the time I got married, financial pressures mounted on us and we went through a lot of struggles. We asked the bank to leverage a higher amount, tried reaching investors for money, and we failed several times. My wife and son supported me. My parents went into teaching to support the family. We went from top to all the way down.
My relatives and employees gave me loans. When your invention is right, execution is right, the circumstances will ultimately automatically benefit you. Then in 2015 we went to a banker and told him what we believed in and got his help. This is how we survived in running the second plant.
In 2016-17 we could gain profits and proudly proclaim that we are a fibre manufacturer. In India, there’s a trend to go from yarn to raw material, but we were swimming against the tide.
By 2018, we engaged in garments and textile production. Then we integrated from manufacturing polyester to making our own apparel and sell it off. In 2019-20 I engaged in the world of startups and encouraged rural entrepreneurs. I’ve invested into 13 startups till now and serving as the board of director into four of them. Engaging with young minds makes you feel motivated.
As an entrepreneur, when I look back, I always find the connecting dots. This is what Steve Jobs quoted once, and I relate to it on a higher level. When I watched Guru, I knew nothing about polyester, but something etched it into my subconscious mind. My first learning was when you internally vibrate with your purpose, it achieves your goal. Picture Abhi Baaki Hai so there’s a lot more to see and I’m at one-fourth of it.
Since I have worked with young entrepreneurs, I would rather think of success as something unnecessary. It’s about making an impact. As failures are phenomenal, teacher and success don’t give you valuable insights and deep learning. It just makes you bright in front of people. I would say courage is the only thing that will get you probably need to pass through challenges.
This was Senthil Shankar founder of Ecoline clothing. Transforming the way one looks at fashion, Senthil wants to make sustainable clothing a global lifestyle. This was one fine example of turning a brand into a movement that matters!