The dream is free but the hustle is sold separately! What does it take to make it on your own and achieve breakthrough success? In The DEN (Dynamic Entrepreneurial Network) is a series focused on getting up-close and personal with entrepreneurs of today! These entrepreneurs have proved the naysayers wrong! This gives us an opportunity to understand their journey and learn from it.
PiMARQ believes in Glocal businesses. Tengin, our very own Karnataka home grown start-up is an embodiment of glocalization. Who better to talk to than Madhu Kargund, Founder of Tengin to commemorate ‘World Coconut Day’!?
He has been a true source of inspiration for us at PiMARQ. We believe in supporting glocal businesses. Tengin has been a great example of businesses characterized by local and global considerations. Tengin is a brand of Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut oil. The best aspect of this business apart from the obvious is their packaging. The oil is packaged in a well designed glass container that is not only eco-friendly but also aesthetic!
We were super excited to ask him #questionsthatmatter!
- What is your educational background?
I have done my Master’s in computer application and have been working in IT industry for past 8 years in the investment banking sector.
- Why did you start your own company?
The end goal was always to open up a business that supports local economies. I had dreamt to be an entrepreneur and do something on my own one day. It was a long journey to that one day! Every business is about solving a problem and I solve problems in a rural sector for farmers and women groups.
- How did you manage funding?
It’s all been about bootstrapping now, I use my salary and my mom mortgaged her gold to take money from the bank.
- Who were clients/ customers and how did you grow?
Educating people about the benefit, value and goodness of coconut has been my priority. It is pivotal to understand local produce. Our line of products speaks for themselves and once a customer purchases it they spread the word to all their friends who in turn become my customers! That is how my customer base has grown!
- How are you marketing your company?
We do a lot of pop-ups at flea markets, associated with couple of farmers market Santes like Bhoomi Sante, Ragi kana. We do social media marketing on facebook and Instagram and utilize the best marketing tool- word of mouth.
- What made you start Tengin?
Agricultural farmers face climate issues like lack of rain that lead to poor agricultural produce. I witnessed young farmers move out of agriculture and migrate to metropolitan cities seeking sustainable earnings to support themselves. I felt devastated; this was going to turn into a critical problem leading to food scarcity in just under 2-3 years. This was the birth place of my idea. I felt the way to solve this problem was to add value to our own produce by making a business out of it that involved the farming community. The idea was to build a sustainable local business dependent on local produce. We started Tengin a year back with cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
- What are the problems that Tengin is solving?
The importance of small businesses and local communities is emotionally rooted for me. Tengin is trying to add value, contribute and bring growth to the local communities. We want to stimulate economic growth by providing all year round employment opportunities to the surrounding villages. We want to produce and sell what we grow which has started with coconut.
- How did you organize farmers etc. to join Tengin?
We practice fair trade while buying coconuts and have selected four villages to be a part of a cluster. Each cluster will be producing one product, so every village is given the opportunity to better their standard of living. We go talk to the villagers to see if they are interested and if they are we form the cooperative communities and begin the work.
- What are the other products apart from Coconut oil that Tengin is branched out to?
We aim to capitalize on the versatility of coconuts. Our product line has coconut sugar (working with different state farmers), coconut chips and coconut shell bowls. We are also working on coming out with coconut sweets, coconut soaps & Shampoo.
- Why is Tengin better than others in this space?
We use an old traditional method to extract the oil. We bring food traceability by doing cocotourism, where the consumer has the opportunity to come to our farm and see how their oil is being prepared and they are even given a chance to prepare their own oil.
- What is the vision for Tengin ?
Make every village self sustainable and increase their economy so that it is conducive and supports agriculture.
- What is the one lesson that is the reason behind your success ?
I am hardworking and patient. Nothing worth building ever gets built over night! I have hustled every day to get here.
- How do you manage working and running your own company ?
I take up most of the business work after by day job. Trust me it has been hard, with God’s grace and my parents help I’m able to manage and balance both, doing it justice.
- What are the challenges that you are facing ?
Marketing is the biggest challenge as we don’t have budget to compete with the big brands. The other challenge which is common to most bootstrapped businesses is investment.
- What is your source of motivation?
I love what I do. I always wanted to start-up in the agriculture space. It is a part of me, I used to plough the fields and grazed cattle. This shared aspect of my life has helped me maintain good relationships with farmers/villagers. My idol Steve Jobs prescribes connecting the dots and having faith that the dots will somehow connect in your future! I did just that! They connect all the way from Tengin to my childhood.
Tengin link: http://www.tengin.in/
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