India is a large economy with agriculture making its backbone. Although more than 60 percent of our population is working in the agri-based fields, technological advancements and fancy career options have taken youth of our country away from the fields. The young generation feels it is waste of their talent to be working in the agriculture sector. They take it as a lowly occupation and run towards the cities in search of better opportunities.
However, there are a few people who shine brilliantly after quitting their plush corporate jobs and reach amazing heights after embracing agriculture as their full-time passion. Srikumar Misra took an offbeat decision to quit his plush job in London, became a first generation entrepreneur and built an empire worth crores by venturing into milk manufacturing.
Born and brought up in a middle-class family in Cuttack, Odisha Srikumar is the founder of Milk Mantra which is India’s first venture capital backed agricultural start-up. After completing his graduation he pursued a management degree from Bhubaneswar’s Xavier Institute of Management and landed on a luxurious life while working in London for Tata Tea-Tetley.
Although comfortable Srikumar found his London life extremely uninspiring as he always believed in impacting people’s life. He made his mind to go back to India and began looking for a business idea that was in line with his ideology. He realized that an important product like milk wasn’t easily available in his home state Odisha and this appeared to him as a brilliant business idea. He knew he would have to begin from zero for the attraction of touching people’s life was much bigger attraction than risking his career.
In 2009, he left his career and put his corporate experience into connecting with farmers and developing a successful business model which provides pure and healthy dairy products to thousands of people in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. It is eyeing on expanding its operations to Karnataka soon.
It was a time when people were betting big on e-commerce and his idea was something which did not appeal venture capitalists. But his unique business model aimed to eliminate middleman and procure milk directly from farmers ensuring better profits to them and getting high-quality milk. It took him 18 months to raise money from angel investors to get infrastructure built. Without an adequate set-up you cannot even manufacture a packet of milk and those were the toughest times for Srikumar. He required $5 million just to get started and had to pledge his wife’s jewelry to get 50% of the debt raised from SBI and IDBI.
Once his project kick started, Milk Mantra gave a tough fight to the existing players in the area which includes state-run dairy federation. It made an impressive revenue of Rs 18 crore in its very first year. After more investors lined up outside his door he introduced tetra packaging technology in 2011 and took the local market by surprise. This resulted in saving losses that were caused because of exposure to sunlight. By 2012, this man had swooned the markets by introducing home delivery of milk in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.
Under the banner of Milk Mantra, Srikumar has successfully brought together more than 40,000 farmers giving way to a new white revolution in the country. The former governor of RBI had himself paid a visit to their campus when he heard about the extraordinary success of Srikumar’s efforts.
Today. Milk Mantra is taking its dairy products to crores of Indians everyday. The annual turnover of the company has crossed Rs 122 crore and the founder of the company is committed towards taking it to Rs 200 crore in 2017. It is only because of sheer hardwork and dedication of Srikumar that took his company from ground to reach such heights. His courageous decision of quitting a plush life in London and slogging it in one of India’s remotest village is truly an inspiration.
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