Mahesh Gupta’s entrepreneurial initiative might have been tagged as a risky venture when he started off. He was stepping into an already crowded market space – the world of water purifiers. Today KENT RO owns almost 40% of the market share in the crowded segment of water purifiers.
This is not just an interesting story, but also quite an inspiring case example. So, let’s find out how KENT RO broke all the barriers of a competitive market to emerge a winner.
Where it all began
KENT RO was not Gupta’s first entrepreneurial venture. He was running a successful business that involved creating oil meters when a personal incident inspired the concept of KENT RO in Mr. Gupta. In the late 1990s his children fell ill and this incident prompted him to search for a water purifier that would ensure a healthy drinking water for his family. But his search turned in disappointing results since most of the water purifiers available then used ultraviolet technology, which eliminated the bacteria but did not get rid of the dissolved impurities. Dissatisfied with the extent of technology available, he dedicated his focus and time on coming up with a new technology that could overcome this drawback of the existing water purifiers. He found reverse osmosis as the ideal solution. This technology was extremely effective and the results impressed Gupta.
KENT RO – the startup stage
Gupta decided to market this technology and this was his first step toward the very impressive KENT RO. But the road to success was not easy. Gupta had zero brand presence in the market and he was in a space that was dominated by strong international brands.
Gupta had done his research well enough to realize that in the 90s waterborne organisms were the main causes of diseases. With this information in hand, he did not proceed further with a market survey and jumped into the fray. Yes, this unique technology required a lot of capital, which he was able to source from his first entrepreneurial venture. He thus started the second company, KENT RO, from the garage of his home, which transformed into his research lab.
Gupta had to manage two entrepreneurial ventures simultaneously, which was quite a challenge since KENT RO took most of his attention given the initial stages of its existence and its unique concept. However, despite all the potential of this technology, KENT RO sold just about 100 units in the first year. When Gupta analyzed the reason for this shocking performance, he realized that the high cost of this technology was a critical contributing factor. Unfortunately, he could not reduce the cost any further. He also realized that none of his audience even knew that his brand existed. That’s when he decided to fine-tune his target audience and first create awareness about the crucial benefits of this superior technology among this target group.
But Gupta did not have enough budget for extensive marketing campaigns. So he routed some money for a smart brand campaign. He installed his product at popular stores that sold kitchenware. He had representatives explain the purpose of KENT RO and its superior technology. This gave the target audience an opportunity to realize the benefits of this unique product and its perfect fit in the Indian scenario – where waterborne diseases were a constant threat.
The upward journey
This approach paid off and KENT RO was able to make a successful dent in the market. Its sales improved through word of mouth and through the personalized interactions with prospects. He then realized that the success of any product depended on customer service. The ability of the organization to immediately resolve any challenges the customer faced while using the product. So he slowly yet firmly started building service engineers across the country, who could provide an exemplary customer service experience to his customers.
With increasing popularity, he realized that he could now use the option of influencer marketing and roped in the evergreen actor Hema Malini the brand ambassador of KENT RO. All these efforts paid off and his target audience were quick to realize the potential of this unique technology.
Lessons from this inspiring story
It’s not the training or expertise, the seed of a brilliant entrepreneurial idea can come from even a personal incident that identifies a critical need. But once you know that you are going to grab this entrepreneurial opportunity, you need to build that expertise and stay up-to-date by learning and researching everything about your field of expertise. Market fit is certainly critical for acceptance. Despite its higher cost, KENT RO found acceptance because it solved the critical need for pure drinking water. Gupta did not stay satisfied with this one product, but he has moved on to other similar products in his niche area of kitchen appliances. He is finding success in these areas too. Another important point to focus on is brand awareness. No matter how great your product or concept is, if your audience does not know you, they will definitely ignore you. So NEVER ignore marketing.
But one of the most important lessons I learned is the ability to create a unique niche for yourself in an already crowded market. Yes, Gupta had the opportunity to create another carbon copy water purifier. But he chose to be different, and that’s what made all the difference.
This story is indeed super inspiring. Your road to success might need a guide – a support who can show you how the entrepreneurial race is won. That’s your business mentor or business coach. Make sure you take the advantage of using this strong tool to achieve your entrepreneurial goals.