Unbelievable is the only word that can describe this success story. Mr. Harshad Thakker, the tycoon of inner wear and casual clothes industry exclusively speaks with Mr. Nikhil Ballal, executive editor of Know Your Town.
Started with a capital of meagre of Rs four lakhs Mr. Harshad Thakker at the age of 38 today runs a company worth above 250 crores crores. Hailing from a small village in Gujrat, on the very next day after his tenth exams he came to Mumbai to pursue his dream. With fire in his belly and dream in his eyes, Harshadbhai ventured out in the world of which he was oblivious of to create his own space.
Being a pucca Gujrati, business was bound to be in his blood. At the age of 11, Mr. Thakker lost his father. He was shattered. As they were living in joint family, uncles supported Mr. Thakker’s education. Although he was not compelled to earn but he thought it was his moral duty to support his family in his father’s absence. So, when he was 12 he started working in his grandfather’s business. After school he would rush to their factory and return late in evening. While his other friends would while away their time playing, Mr. Thakker would be busy working in the factory.
Without waiting for results, Mr. Thakker rushed to Mumbai to try his luck. Initially he would get confused between trains and on couple of occasion was lost in the huge ocean of people. “It took me four months to understand which train goes where”, remembers Mr. Harshad. It was difficult for him at a tender age to adapt with this fast lifestyle. But he has been an adventurous person all throughout his life. His aptitude for taking risk stood him in good stead.
Mr. Harshad’s uncle introduced him to the store and on the first day handed over him the charge of lingerie counter. “It was my first encounter with it”, laughs Mr. Thakker. Without any hesitation he took the charge. He would tirelessly work for 17 -18 hours a day. In nick of time he became a good salesman. Customers started seeking his advice. It is a wrong notion that females take lot of time in buying apparels. I believe customers always listen to opposite sex’s choice. Whenever I recommended any apparel to a customer and if a sales girl also tries to show her something else then out of 10, in nine cases that customer would pick my choice, smiles Mr. Harshad. He further said that sales girl working in men’s store would agree with him.
Though Mr. Thakker was working hard his uncle was not happy with his work. He got upset and started hunting for a new job. Soon he realised huge potential in this industry and stepped out of the store to start a whole sale business. People ridiculed his decision everyone including his uncle felt he would incur loss. He was forced to leave house. Mr. Harshad’s mother gave him the policy amount of his father to buy a home and get married. But he had some different plans. Instead of buying a house he decided to start a business with that amount.
“It was a calculated risk and I can prove you by calculations. Out of 365 days 50% is night and on an average India has 110 holidays in a year. So, two third of our year goes relaxing or holidaying. So, we require casual clothing for major duration. Despite of such demand there was no exclusive industry catering to these needs. We have thousands of formal wear or traditional wear manufacturers and lakhs of stores to sell these apparels. But unfortunately there is no centralised industry manufacturing and retailing these clothes. I sensed a big opportunity there and decided to launch my own brand exclusively dealing in these products. We named it ‘valentine’, adds Mr. Thakker.
Today Valentine is one of the popular brands of this industry. It has 28 outlets to its credit. I am happy even foreigners are using our branded clothes, says Mr. Harshad. When I was growing strong I was approached by many brands to amalgamate but I have been always against partnership business. I sincerely feel too many chefs spoil the broth, adds Mr. Thakker.
He believes in philanthropy and doesn’t want his next generation to be laid back and enjoy his wealth. He wants his son to work hard like him and make a name in the industry. He has decided to donate his 75 % of his earnings and just keep 25% of it for his son.
When asked what would be his advice to all budding businessmen he said don’t focus on what you will get instead instead focus on what you are giving, concludes Mr. Thakker.