‘SWEAT’ SUCCESS!

Nikhil Ballal

How was your childhood?
PS-I came from a very poor family. I
lived with my parents and siblings in a slum
near Pachpakadi. My father’s earning was
too meagre to support the family of six. You
can say it was a hand to mouth existence.
Due to critical financial condition I
was compelled to work when I was in
second standard. Initially no one was
willing to employ me as I was too small.
They were not sure. After great perseverance, finally I got a
job in a grocery store. My first salary was Rs 60!

For your tender
age, how did you
manage that?
PS-(Laughs). Now when I look back and recollect these
memories I ask myself how did Idid that.
Being a bachha, customerswould pull my
leg and at times played a prank too. Being a
kid many customers also took me fora ride.
The owner use to reprimand me for that.
That made me a ‘fighter’. I am not a kind
of a person who would easily get disheartened
and depressed by failures. During those
days insults and physical abuses were a daily
affair.I never gave up as I always believedharder
the struggle more glorious will be the
triumph! The dream of becoming a shopkeeper
germinated in those days.

So when did you decide to become a
businessman?
PS-While working in the grocery story I
was assisting customers by going out of the
way. Iwould help senior citizens by carrying
their vegetable bags at times got them milk,
fruits and also helped them in their domestic
chores. This would fetch me some additional
income too. That supported my education.
Exactly before my tenth standard exams
my family decided to enter into a milk
business. We all would get up at 3 in the
morning and deliver milk door to door. Since
my tenth standard classes were in Dadar I
took a job in Parel. After distributing milk by
6 I would leave for work. After working till
5pm in ParelI would start walking towards
Dadar to attend my class. It was in the garden
near plaza cinema were I would do my
homework .Till the time I return home it would
be 10 in the night. I use to get barely four
hours of sleep daily. That was my tiring
routine and that too in the crucial year of my
tenth standard.
After tasting little success in milk business
we decided to put a tapri(road side kiosk) of
biscuits, chochlates, supari,paan, beedi etc..
Since business always enticed me more than
the job I left the job at Pareland joined our
family business. While handling the tapri I not                                                                                                                                 only made money but also developed an
excellent rapport with people.

Which was the bad phase of your life
and how did you overcome it?
PS-After running the tapri successfully for
few years we bought a small shop in
Pachpakadi. We weren’t that literate to verify
the legalities of the shop for which we had to
pay a big price eventually. In the famous road
widening drive, we saw our hard earned shop
getting demolished! It was a terrible sight I still
can’t forget that incident.
But it didn’t shatter my hope of becoming
a shopkeeper. I arranged for money and
bought a shop in 2001 which is now popularly
known as Prashant Corner.

Despite of so many big sweet shops
already existing in Thane how did Prashant
Corner became popular?
PS-It is the matter of trust and personal
touch. Right from the childhood Thanekars have
seen me in multiple roles. They saw me
delivering milk at their doorsteps, selling them
biscuits and even helping them in their
domestic work. They knew I am an honest and
a hardworking person! Whether it may be milk
business, selling biscuit and now sweets I never
cheated any of my customers. That was the
initial capital for Prashant’s success story.
Moreover I always keep innovating and
introducing new items in the shop. In my free
time I keep roaming and observing other
sweet retailers. I have taken at least one good
quality from every such business. it is
manifested in my business. My role model has
always been Haldirams.
I have adapted myself with the changing
times. I strongly believe if you don’t change as
per time then time will change you.

Did the higher prices become hindrance
in establishing yourself in the competitive
market?
PS-No it wasn’t a risk. I knew people are
becoming more health conscious they would
pay that little extra amount for hygiene. I
started selling PaniPuri at Rs25 when others
were selling it for Rs15. In Rs 25 I would
upgraded and maintained all the hygiene
standards such as use of filter water, good
quality puris( less oily), fresh sprouts and most
importantly hygiene of sales boys. You will
never see my counter boys without caps and
gloves. This created a healthy atmosphere
among the food lovers and they started
enjoying their favourite dish without any suspicion.
Initially people also criticised me for
selling sweets costly. But then I would show
them the actual purchase bills of badam, kaju
or pista and then that would silence them. I
never compromised on the quality of dryfruits
in any of my sweet, my customers appreciated
that.

What is your formula for success?
PS-If customer is God then employees are
Goddess! Employees represent you and your
brand more than you. It is necessary to give
them the best possible facilities. My dishwasher
who stays in Kalyan commutes in
train’s first class compartment every
day. Irrespective of their designations we
have given first class passes to all our
employees. When you visit any
branch of Prashant Corner you will see my
sales person serving you sweets before you
ask them. They will treat you in the same
way as I would have treated you. They get
involved in your happiness and celebrations.
This is because I have created in them the
sense of ownership towards the company.
Moreover I have been very selective
about the sweets which are sold in our outlets. I
don’t offer any item to a customer unless and
until I am fully convinced with it. Today also I
spend more than two hours in my factory.

So how does it feel to own four outlets
of Prashant and how tough was the
expansion?
PS-It feels great. Believe me when I
started my first outlet at Pachpakadi I just
prayed to God – Ki don velchajevanmilu de
devaa bas..( Godplease give us two meals a
day everyday that’s it) God has been
extremely kind to us.
I identified the ‘gems’ of my outlet and
prepared them to handle an outlet independently.
I also motivated them by sharing a
certain commission on the business generated
in their outlets. Very often I give surprise visits to these
outlets. I check the cleanliness, presentation,
uniforms of sales persons and most importantly
dustbins to ensure wastage.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce
the opening of my fifth branch in Ghodbunder.
It will be inaugurated on May 1.

What would you appeal the budding
businessmen?
PS-Don’t shy away from doing any work.
No work is below your dignity. Always be
flexible and be prepared to learn new things.
Be cautious about your business approach.
Remember people are watching you minutely
so never compromise on ethics.I think anything
is possible if you have the right mindset and
strong will. Once upon a time I wasn’t able to afford a
cycle but today I have luxurious cars and my
dream car Mercedes is in the pipeline. Those
who aspire to make a career in this industry
come to us we will help them wholeheartedly.

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