AT THE (TIP) TOP OF THE WORLD!

Nikhil Ballal

KYT – Tell us something about your
childhood
RS -I was born in an average middle class
family and lived in a 10 by 12 room in
Lower Parel with my parents and two
brothers. I did my schooling from King
George school in Dadar and later completed
my college education from the N.M.College,
Vile Parle. When I was in fifth grade we
shifted to Thane. My father had the laundry
business and the reason for shifting to Thane
was that he had purchased one of the running
laundries in Thane. Unlike Lower Parel, the
Gujarati culture was not much popular in
Thane and my mother found it quite difficult
to adjust in the new environment. For my
mother’s happiness, we moved our base to
Ghatkopar, where there is gujrati culture.
During my school and college days I took an
active part in helping my father in the laundry
business. So you can say that the bug of
entrepreneurship bit me in the very early
stage of my life (smiles).

KYT – How did you fair in your
academics and what were your favourite
subjects?
RS – I was an average student during my
school and college years. If I score good
marks in a particular subject that subject will
be my favorite (smiles).
According to this logic of
mine, my favourite subjects
were Geography and
languages. I also took keen
interest in sports and the
game I liked the most was
Kabaddi.

KYT – What are your
hobbies?
RS -I like travelling a
lot. I believe that the more
you travel, the more insights
you get for developing
your business. When I am
travelling around the world
I am observing and
absorbing everything and
analyzing how it can help me grow my
business. In my free time, I love to think of
new and innovative ideas. Human brain has
tremendous power and constantly exercising
it with thinking of ideas will only make it
healthier and stronger.

KYT – After your graduation, didn’t you
feel like working in a corporate? What
inspired you to become a businessmen?
RS – When I was in N.M. College, I had
friends who came from filthy rich backgrounds.
Whenever we went out for lunch,
they would ask me and my other not so rich
friends to order whatever we liked. Having
no money in the pocket compelled us to sat
that we were not hungry (reminisces). My
father used to say that today if I ate from
their money tomorrow I will have to pay their
bills. With this fear in mind I suppressed my
hunger.
Such days gave me the inspiration to
become something big in life. Apart from this
I feel that when we were residing in
Ghatkopar, majority of our neighbours were
business families. Living with them and seeing
their daily routines influenced me to start my
own business.

KYT – Who was your role model?
RS – I derive immense inspiration from
two of the biggest business tycoons that India
has ever produced. They are – the dynamic
Dhirubhai Ambani and the radiant Ratan Tata. I
admire their qualities such as determination,
dedication, devotion, perseverance and pro
activity. When I decided to be a business I
aspired to be a mix of both and have the
perfect blend of their attributes.

KYT – How did your life as a businessman
kick started?
RS – My inaugural business venture was
‘Elegant’, a suiting and shirting shop. We just
sold the cloth material and not the readymade
garments. After this we started with a tailoring
shop. My brother Jayant Bhai learnt tailoring
and managed this business very well.
During those days jeans were in fashion.
There was no Jeans shop in Thane. This
triggered us to set up a readymade garment
jeans shop ‘Jeans Junction’. It was the first
exclusive shop for jeans in Thane and Mumbai.
I, along with my two younger brothers,
divided the work and carried out the
functioning of shop smoothly.
Later we also entered into the business of
wholesale exports. To our horror, this business
was a big flop! The biggest problem of any
wholesale business is the recovery of credit
given to the customers. At that very moment I
decided that I should get into retail where the
credit period is small and there is almost zero
or minimum worries of credit recovery. One of
the Monginis franchisee and Punjabi
Ghasitaram agency (sweets shop) was also run
by me, which you can say marked the
beginning of food business in my life.

KYT – You are known to be the pioneer
of your every business that you start, be it
jeans or thali or softy. How can you always
think ahead of time?
RS – I feel that every businessman should
have an excellent risk taking ability. Also he
should have an powerful foresight and this
foresight can be developed by reading more
about the markets, industry and business and
also by keeping your eyes wide open to
whatever is happening in the world around
you. I realized that there were no restaurants
serving Gujrati Thalis. This made me introduce
the concept of Gujarati Thali for the first time
in Thane and we got tremendous response!
Again we were first in introducing softy
which became very popular as TIP TOP softy
near station in a short span of time, this was
also the result of keeping my eyes wide open.
You will be surprised to know that I had
actually gone to Italy to buy the softy machine!
Keeping pace with the evolving world is the
key to be successful. Giving the customers what
they want will only help you in the growth of
your business.

KYT – First it was just Tip Top and today
we have Tip Top Plaza, so how has been
your journey till date?
RS – It has been an amazing ride. From
laundry to apparel to food to being a
marriage multiplex, what more could I have
asked for? Tip Top Plaza has garnered a huge
success in just over a decade and I am sure the
kind of quality and satisfaction that we offer
to our customers will define Tip Top’s success
story for years to come. The strong base of
employees has created the beautiful foundation
of Tip Top. Without them this dream of
mine would be incomplete.

KYT – We as commoners just see the
rosy picture of your story. Was there any
obstacle that hindered your progress?
RS – In every business there are some
hindrances that you have to encounter. You can
say that your business story is incomplete
without the obstacles (smiles). They are the
part and parcel of your life. I faced one such
problem during the construction of Tip Top
Plaza. It was a financial constraint and I thank
God that it was just that money related issue
then and today there is nothing hampering my
business.

KYT – What is your appeal to the
young and budding entrepreneurs?
RS -It is my firm belief that
business teaches business. It is not
always necessary to undertake formal
education to become a great
businessman. Whatever business that
you want to get into, always remember
the golden rule of VFM i.e. Value
for Money. You should never compromise
on the quality to achieve a higher
bottom line. Customer is the king and
his satisfaction will determine your
success. Before commencing any
business, it is essential for you to have
a thorough understanding of the
market and industry. You should be
well armed to fight the war of
business. The most important thing for
you is to take failure in your stride, learn from
them and never repeat the same mistakes. Take
risks and don’t shy away from them. Just keep
one thing in your mind, to accomplish our
Prime Minister’s dream campaign of ‘Make in
India’, we should have more number of young
and budding individuals willing to start their
own business.

KYT – With the success of Tip Top, Tip
Top Plaza and Jeans Junction under your
belt, which is the next territory that you want
to capture?
RS – My future plan is to start a resort in
Lonavla. Within the next three years the resort
will hit the ground. The resort aims to offer
world class experience to the Thaneites at just
one and a half hours drive from their home. I
am sure the customers will have a lifetime
experience in the resort and make it their
favourite holiday destination.

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