Brand Owner's Summit 2014: Why there is no journey like the entrepreneurial one

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | March 19, 2014
At the Brand Owner's Summit, Ahmedabad, the audience was treated to some remarkable stories and insights from entrepreneurs from the city, leaving the audience asking for more.

On its second visit to the city of Ahmedabad, the Brand Owner's Summit provided the audience with a refreshing look at the journeys of some of the entrepreneurs in the city. On Day 1, Piruz Khambatta of Rasna fame enthralled the audience, followed by the new-age Vishal Mehta of Infibeam, before Behram Mehta of Aava mineral water took to the stage, and the professionals' perspective from Atul Chaturvedi, CEO, Adani Wilmar.

Prof. Prriya Raj

Piruz Khambatta

Behram Mehta

Atul Chaturvedi

Mahesh Murthy

Rounding off the evening was the thought leadership session from the ever-provocative and insightful Mahesh Murthy, partner, Seedfund.

The summit followed a more involved, one-to-one format at Ahmedabad, allowing the audience to get a deeper glimpse at the speakers' journey. Kicking off the session with Prof. Prriya Raj, Piruz Khambatta of Rasna spoke about the many challenges, changes and their approach to the market over the years. Declaring that their focus has always been the business with no plans to sell out, he was happy to admit that the brand valuation game was something they were glad to stay away from. Thus, he highlighted how affordability remained the bedrock of brand Rasna's approach, in a category where more than the weight of the packet, it is the coinage that matters - one reason why Rasna is still available at a price point of Rs 2 for a sachet.

Proving himself to be a firm believer in market research, he shared how Rasna conducts regular surveys to understand how its consumers perceive the brand, and the efforts to stay within that zone of expectation. Happy to discuss failures along the way, Khambatta spoke about the commercials he didn't like and of course, the ones he loved. And, that the set of commercials featured his daughter.

If Rasna was about an established brand learning to stay relevant and growing, Behram Mehta of Sheelpee Enterprises, the owner of Aava mineral water, had a story that was more about serendipity and taking a contrarian approach. In conversation with Sreekant Khandekar, co-founder, afaqs!, Behram, a serial entrepreneur who had his share of ups and downs till he launched Aava mineral water, delighted the audience with his frank acknowledgement of luck, good advice and circumstances in his success. Thus, from the discovery of high quality mineral water at a family property, to the decision to opt for starting a mineral water business around that, and opting to go the institutional way for sales, Behram was refreshingly frank about the thinking behind it all, right down to thanking the delay in official licensing approvals that enabled him to craft a better marketing strategy in the extra time it afforded him. The word Aava itself came from his parsi heritage, where it means 'Angel of Water'.

The decision to exit his granite tiling business and enter the mineral water business was also influenced by his astrologer, who he credited with helping him take the right decision, he said.

Today, Aava is the only natural mineral water brand sourced from west India, supplying to many airlines, five-star hotels and airports.

For Atul Chaturvedi, CEO, Adani Wilmar, the platform was an opportunity to discuss the professional manager's perspective on a family-owned business. Notable for the many questions he fielded from the audience, he spoke passionately about the role professional managers can play in a well-run family business too, and on balancing ownership and management-related issues.

The Brand Owner's Summit was powered by NavGujarat Samay, the new daily in Gujarat from the Times Group, with support from Big 92.7 FM and Big Magic. The targeted TV partner was Amagi, with TiE as community partner. Simulations PR provided the much needed local expertise, with Khushi Outdoor and Media Marketing providing outdoor media support.

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