Prem Ganapathy – Fighting Destiny’s Challenges to Build the Dosa Empire, Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza
Many of us love the yummy dosas from Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza, the innumerable varieties, the clean surroundings, and the high-quality service. But how well do we know about Prem Ganapathy, the brilliant entrepreneur who conceived this delicious concept of exclusive dosa outlets? All of us have so many lessons to learn from Mr. Ganapathy’s tenacious success story as an entrepreneur par excellence. Let’s take a quick look at Mr. Ganapathy’s journey from being a helpless teenager who stepped into Mumbai’s vast maze with hardly any money or support system to becoming the dosa king of the restaurant landscape.
Initial battle to survive in Mumbai
Prem Ganapathy left for Mumbai in his teens, hoping to make it big and support his family, whom he had left behind in his village in Tamil Nadu. However, his first experience in this tough city was quite disappointing, as a thug stole his lifetime’s savings of 200 Rupees. He had a decision to make – go back to his struggling days or fight it out in Mumbai and change his destiny. Mr. Ganapathy chose the route that took him to his magical future. He worked hard to find a job at a local bakery that gave him a meager yet confident monthly income. He then took up more such jobs in parallel and started saving up money to start his own entrepreneurial journey.
The first entrepreneurial experience
Mr. Ganapathy smartly invested his first set of savings in renting out a food cart right next to a railway station. He focused on his critical strong points – his expertise in making South Indian delicacies, his priority for ensuring that his customers ate only hygienic food, and the superior quality of his recipes made him an instant hit. He was always crisply dressed with the characteristic cap and clean surroundings. People loved to eat at his stall, and he was soon able to rent out a place that doubled as a kitchen for this food cart. But as a first-time entrepreneur he had to battle quite a few challenges.
The authorities made it clear that these outlets were not licensed; hence he was under the constant risk of getting shut down and he landed up paying fines quite often.
The next brave move
The challenges of the food cart finally found a solution when Mr. Ganapathy opened his first restaurant, Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza. This restaurant specialized in the ever-favorite idli and dosas. People loved this initiative too and Mr. Ganapathy soon had overflowing customers. A significant percentage of his customers were from colleges and soon this age-group of customers introduced him to the world of Internet. He realized that dosas were much more versatile than he could even imagine. Online videos of multiple varieties of dosas and their recipes caught his imagination and he soon began to experiment with multiple dosa recipes in his restaurant menu. This turned out to be quite a smart move since his customer base expanded exponentially and soon his restaurant became known as dosa experts, serving more than 100 varieties of dosas.
Cashing in on the mall fever
The city was soon gripped by a new trend – the mall fever. With so many malls springing up across Mumbai, Mr. Ganapathy was quick to understand that his next growth opportunity was to come from this trend. He soon opened Dosa Plazas across malls, which gave him instant connect with a much larger percentage of the city’s population. The dosa winning streak continues till date, with more than 43 branches and franchises across the country and a couple of them abroad!
Lessons from this inspiring success story
Mr. Ganapathy teaches us aspiring, struggling, and hopeful entrepreneurs the lesson of holding your ground and facing adversities to reach your goals. It tells us how important it is to create a unique space and identity for yourself even in a crowded market. The experience also teaches us about the essence of looking for opportunities forever rather than leaning back to enjoy success. As an entrepreneurial mentor I have found Mr. Ganapathy’s entrepreneurial journey inspiring. I’ll be back in a few weeks with another such inspiring experience.