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A 500 cr success story: Inside Borosil’s success story

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Borosil is a four-decade-old household Indian brand. In 1962 Window Glass Limited, as Borosil was known then, entered into a joint venture with Corning Glass Works USA to manufacture and sell Industrial and Scientific glass. For almost 12 years after the company was founded, it continued to make losses, and worked tirelessly to turn things around. The company was mostly a manufacturer of scientific products, with a few consumer products thrown in for good measure. The flagship brand was borosilicate glass, which is a type of glass that does not crack when exposed to severe temperatures, making it ideal for laboratory and industrial applications.

After a stint at Wharton, Shreevar Kheruka (current Chief Executive and MD at the glassware major) persuaded his family that working elsewhere would be ideal for him, as it would allow him to decide what he wants to do

Baptism by Fire

Shreevar Kheruka’s first five years at Wipro were marked by self-doubt and self-questioning, he claims. “It was a very difficult moment for the company, and I was put to the test,” he recalls. The company’s cost structure exploded without warning and the market competition that we had suddenly burst as well. “With expanding our facility in Mumbai, we faced multiple union concerns as well as various local issues,” he adds.

Says that among all the challenges, there was one thing that stood out for the company – the brand value. “There was a little bit of pride there as well – I didn’t want to be termed a failure at my own business”.

Drawing strength from customer confidence

The company’s scientific division is presently producing vials, other lab tools, and serving glassware. “Everyone enjoyed the brand and loved the products, and I saw a chance to turn things around in talks,” Shreevar added.

With revenues of almost Rs 2,000 crore last year and the combined strength of close to 1,500 employees across both companies, Borosil is one of India’s most well-known consumer goods brands. Last year, Borosil Limited brought in almost Rs 600 crore in revenue, compared to Rs 500 crore for its competitor Borosil Renewables.

‘Do not seat yourself in an ivory tower’

Shreevar understands the value of a strong brand and positive customer feedback. We have a solid system in place to evaluate consumer complaints. We have a goal of resolving complaints within three days, regardless of location, he says. Shreevar used to go to different cities to meet with customers and hold chats with them before COVID.

When Shreevar reveals that Borosil is an Indian brand, his clients are surprised. Many staff have risen through the ranks at the organization, which he considers to be a very encouraging indicator. “The products’ quality and packaging always gave the sense that the brand was international,” he explains.

From dinner tables to boardrooms

Given how much each family member is involved in the firm, Shreevar claims that business and work are frequently discussed at the dinner table. “There is no distinction between business and personal life. We’ve had situations arise in the middle of the night, and we’ve all huddled together even at 3 a.m. to resolve them”, he says. 

Now that he’s a seasoned entrepreneur, his advice to others is to establish a motive for doing business besides making money.

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The story of Tiktok and beyond

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The story of Tiktok as social media apps

As social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were staying strong in the digital age, TikTok seemed to appear out of nowhere to share the thunder with the social media giants mentioned earlier.

TikTok is an entertaining, addictive app that managed to win over the hearts of people, mainly the youth. It is a short-form video platform, has perhaps become the hottest app ever as it has over 2.3 billion all-time downloads. The growth of TikTok has been exponential.

Right after the collaboration with Musical.ly, ByteDance launched TikTok. It instantly got the reception that was expected to reach around 800 million active users. Not just the youth but people from all age groups made it on TikTok. It was also known for the creation of jobs, as “influencers” made huge profits online.

TikTok in India saw a huge rise in the number of users (over 200 million). But just when TikTok was expanding in India, India’s long-time dispute with China seemed to be ignited again. In a move that month befitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, the Indian government removed 59 Chinese-made apps, TikTok among them, citing national security concerns.

Left reel-ing

Not only was Tiktok hit hard, but also the influencers lost a majority of their livelihood. There were petitions, protests to bring TikTok back but none of them worked. Suddenly, 200 million people had to live in a post-TikTok era. Many apps like MX TakaTak, Josh, Roposo, etc. tried to replace TikTok in India, but could not create the impact TikTok did. After that, social media giants like Instagram and Facebook decided to quickly take the stage and launch ‘reels’ which did have a significant impact on the TikTok audience but failed to connect with the ‘hinterland’ part of India like TikTok.

There is also the grisly undertone of ‘classism’, as TikTok succeeded not just because of the content on it, but who was on it. Even as Facebook, Instagram, and the likes were flooded with users from urban India, TikTok gave India’s hinterland creators a voice. Once it went dark, these erstwhile TikTok users faced a deluge of criticism, outright hate, and a much reduced fan following. Even as the Indian audience continues its search to find the right successor of TikTok, many look forward to TikTok’s return with bated breath.

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Credit cards for India’s unbanked, now a reality

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Credit cards are an excellent way to build credit and make important purchases when cash is a bit tight. However, not everyone has access to a credit card, and this is particularly true in India, where financial inclusion remains a challenge. Across India, approximately 400 million people cannot “afford” a credit card, leaving them out of the financial mainstream and without access to a critical financial instrument. One startup, named GalaxyCard, provides a digital credit card specifically to these low-income individuals overlooked by others. And they issue these cards within 3 minutes. 

This FinTech startup ties up with multiple channels like UPI, in-app services, and even offline. Around 1 lakh digital cards have been issued until now, with annual revenues touching Rs. 1 Crore.

Amit Kumar, who previously founded the mobile-based payment application firm Eashmart, which was eventually bought by PayUMoney in 2014, co-founded GalaxyCard with his friend Gunjeet Singh. The latter was closing down his own logistics firm Truckload at the time, after repeated stints as a product manager.

How does it work?

The income model of the firm is comparable to that of a traditional bank, but with smaller ticket sizes. The credit limit lies within a minimum of Rs. 1,000 and a maximum of Rs. 25,000. A user can begin with Rs. 1,000, and when the system collects additional information (such as how the money is spent, repayment time, overdue, other sources of income, dependency, and so on), the limit rises to Rs. 5,000, then Rs. 25,000, but remains below the user’s total steady income. The ‘bump up’ is based on the user’s financial situation, and it is thoroughly scrutinized by the platform to keep dangers of default to a minimum. 

As fintech rises exponentially, companies tend to change their business model as technology and requirements evolve. If India’s digital banking ecosystem is to grow, it must look beyond the pool of users in urban cities, and bring in those within India’s hinterland to its fold. GalaxyCard is an interesting solution to a long-time problem faced by the unbanked, and could well solve rural India’s credit conundrum. 

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CoinSwitch Kuber: The story of India’s largest crypto exchange

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The growth of Cryptocurrency over the years has been astronomical. People are now tempted to take their first steps into the world of crypto. To make trading, investing, and knowledge of crypto easier for people, three engineers, Ashish Singhal (CEO), Govind Soni (CTO), and Vimal Sagar (COO) launched ‘CoinSwitch Kuber’ in 2017. This began the journey of a platform that is now home to over 11 million users.

In early 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a policy that did not allow the banks to support crypto transactions that forced the three founders to spread their idea outside India with the VC, Sequoia Capital funding them in the seed round. But soon in early 2020, their dream of shedding light on the digital currency in India came true as the Supreme Court of India overturned RBI’s policy. ‘CoinSwitch Kuber’ was then introduced to the people of India.

Ashish defines simplified User Experience (UX) and the decision to not provide the users with some trading features as the two factors that helped the platform overtake other coin exchanges.

CoinSwitch recently suspended crypto withdrawals for its users due to lack of clear rules concerning the currency. Clarifying the move, Ashish says, “This was perhaps the hardest call we had to take. But regulators are worried about crypto being used as legal tender and hurting the sovereignty of the Indian rupee. Further, they are worried crypto can be used for money laundering and other illicit activities. So far, no one has figured out how to stop it, but disabling crypto withdrawals in a stopgap measure till the right policies come in place.”

Talking about the future, the founders aim to transform this app into a full-time investment platform with crypto and traditional financial instruments available for everyone. Praising the investors such as a16z, the founders hope that the Indian government defines the rules around crypto better, and compartmentalize virtual currencies based on their use cases and not prohibit it in upcoming legislation.

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