Mr Nirav Shah, a business tycoon, based in Mumbai, a proud 10th standard dropout, who is an industrious entrepreneur, a digital marketing expert, and the founder of seven companies until now. He has been in the retail Gold industry for the last 15 years, mentoring other jewellers as well.
Interview Times got the golden chance to interview him and to get an insight into his life journey, challenges, ambitions, and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversation with him that has filled us with a sheer positive attitude, and we believe it could significantly influence and inspire our readers as well.
“One day I had 5 or 10 rupees in my pocket, and the thought crossed my mind that if I would not receive the contract from this client I was going to meet, I have to travel back on foot. That was the level of hardship I faced at that moment”, Nirav Shah said.
Yogita Malhotra: How did you become an entrepreneur? Can you brief us about yourself?
I would begin by saying- I am a proud 10th Standard dropout, my mother was unwell at that time, I was studying in St Xavier’s High School, and I had to drop it midway. I would add I am an accidental entrepreneur; my father hitherto retained this business, but he exited, and then I began my journey to make it from scratch.
I used to call myself ‘Sales Mafia’ as it was my expertise. After that, I started working, and my pay was barely Rs 3000 per month, but gradually my father realized that his son would fit for the business, not merely a job.
I would credit my Dad for all my hard-earned success. He is the reason I have reached to this level. He believed his son to have his own business, despite enormous hardships. All the more, I was dumbstruck when my Dad asked me to resign from my job.
Tushant Baranwal: We came to know via LinkedIn you are a founder of seven companies. Can you throw some light on them?
Our first business belonged to my father, was to print plastic bags. It was going very well, but the general manager of Reliance changed my perception and showed us the future is of Non-Woven.
There were many issues in plastic, and we stepped into the non-woven where we got our first order from SBI of about 1 lakh bags. If you are an early mover, you will always win. Since we were into the jewellery industry, people started demanding us to provide the jewellery boxes, and we grabbed the opportunity and gave it a go.
After some time, we realised plastic and non-woven are banned in some states, so we moved to paper bags because the future looked bleak. We then entered into processing and machinery work since our every venture was into printing; we bought our first printing machine, the German Heidelber instead of outsourcing, and set up our printing machinery. We brainstormed and decided to revolve around the jewellery industry, and soon we came up with our Gold coin business.
My first customer was Kalyan Jewellers, where I bagged an order for 3.5 crores worth of coins. I was not in the position to fulfil the orders; I was running out of funds. There were challenges, but we combat, and that’s what makes an entrepreneur.
While we were doing all this, we understood Digital marketing’s significance and stepped into it about six years ago. So from Plastic bags, we moved to non-woven.
From non-woven, we headed to paper bags, which made us step into the jewellery boxes manufacturing and bound us to set up our first printing unit, which further inspired us to get into the gold coins industry. When everything felt settled, I grabbed the opportunity to explore the digital marketing arena.
YM: How has COVID-19 affected your business models?
Do not take me wrong, but it is a blessing in disguise for me. It sounds hilarious, but if I got two or three months every year, it would prove propitious for me. Amid all this chaos, I could spare some time I always wanted to and could not due to my hectic everyday schedule.
Specifically, I have been able to focus on my Digital Marketing company; it is a proprietor firm while other businesses are tremendously operating at a larger scale.
Besides, in every adversity, I learned that there is an opportunity; it all depends on how you perceive your problems. So, I grabbed the chance, I had also conducted a free live webinar lately discussing how we can sell our jewellery while being cooped up at home without opening the store during Covid-19, and surprisingly, 150 Jewellers had attended my webinar.
I also have testimony from JK Jewellers, Odisha, who implemented my ideas and heartily thanked me by sending a video as my reward.
YM: Every business has suffered losses. How did you turn the lockdown challenges into business opportunities?
Unbelievingly, this covid-19 proved providential for me, we earned two lakhs during lockdown phase 1 and 2, sitting at home.
We have many artisans and Karigars working, and during harsh times, Mumbai police were stringent, restricting people even to step out, and some were charged with lathis.
As the workers are primarily from Bihar and UP, they were receiving calls from their family repeatedly, this added pain to their miserable plight, so we decided to make masks, and with the legit approval of the government, we carried out our activities of making masks, considering as essentials.
What’s more, gradually, we pitched our clients, earned two lakhs by selling masks for three months across India. That’s how we turned adversity into opportunity.
I had also taken one more project, and with a frenetic pace, I sat for working at 7 in the evening and left it in the morning at 7. With all the verve, I satisfactorily completed the project in 16 hours.
I have generated customers for my digital marketing strategies. A customer with 5500 crores turnover wasn’t getting any result from their online campaign, so they gave me an opportunity for three months, and now it’s five months gone and still renewing the contract.
We sold masks along with some Covid products. I was mocked for making money in the lockdown, but I justified it that artisans are depressed, now they have work, employment, and people are willingly ordering their masks. We are in a win-win situation. Our approach to the problem defines success.
TB: What makes your company unique?
I never boast about my product, however good, it may be, I just prove how it could be useful for the customer. Suppose you have to sell your jewellery shop, and I would recommend it to someone saying its it’s a win-win situation for both of you. One has prospered from here, and you have an opportunity to flourish too.
You need to understand customer sentiments. Suppose you will say this bag is good, but if the customer says no, the sale cannot be made. But I have learned with time, being persistent is the key to success.
Today people respond to me because I have a brand value, but back then, being persistent was my key to achieve my vision because brands are not created in a night. Today my sales team eats cashews in the name of our brand while pitching our products.
For example, Kalyan Jewellers rejected me thrice when I went to do business with them. But I was persistent, and I did mention earlier I bagged the orders for the Gold coins I couldn’t even fulfil. We try to create a wow moment for our customers and wins them forever.
YM: You also are a digital marketing expert. According to you, what is the importance of Digital marketing for any company?
When you go for traditional marketing, for example, if you have a magazine of Interview times, no doubt, you are selling it like hotcakes, but what matters is how many people are reading it, and you can only have an approx idea for that.
This is where the digital market plays its role; with this approach, you can target your audience, gender, and demands. Basically, digital marketing plays an indispensable role in any company, once you visit any website, it traces you everywhere on your social media, and that’s how the network widens.
It does not end here, and digital marketing is vast like an eternal ocean. I would like to take some time and connect with you some other time as I can talk about this for long hours.
Covid has made people realise the importance of Digital marketing. I have helped many clients to increase their sales through the ideas I discussed in my webinar. I have the testimonials of some of them.
TB: You also mentioned you are a proud 10th standard dropout. Do you believe education is not a necessity for success?
It is not a necessity I can tell. For example, I have an uneducated friend in Haryana from a tier 2 city earning nearly 1 lakh dollar, where even the internet doesn’t work properly.
If I know English I can go places, but let me tell you I am 9th passed, my two brothers who are working with me are 3rd and 4th pass. People don’t trust me when I say I am not educated. But we did some correspondence courses for our business to ease our way into the market.
In today’s fast-paced life, I would say education is important but never a necessity. It’s not the education but sheer determination that makes you win the battles. But I will definitely teach my child because it’s essential.
But if you say someone is uneducated and his future is blank, I will strongly disagree.
YM: Any advice for young people who wants to establish their new business?
I would begin by saying, Keep your vision high and be persistent. I will recount my experience, as I am planning to establish my business overseas, I have the vision of expanding my Jewellery company to an international level. Hence, taking everything into account is demonstrating that we need to have a vision or an idea to pursue our dreams.
Every day, you need to push yourself to come closer to your ultimate goal. Suppose one is enthused to become an entrepreneur. In that case, he/she has to initiate now, instead of waiting for financial capacity, or support, it is crucial to start your journey even if you commence at a smaller scale.
There are no shortcuts in life. You have to bestow your time, hustle in life to create something. Besides this, I would say, do not go for perfection, and there are imperfections, try to implement your ideas right off.
Never give up, no doubt, you will have to surpass obstacles, you will be forced to change the route, but after all, keep your head high, and keep learning from your mistakes.
You are not lucky or unlucky; everyone goes through hardship; you need to start small, start now. If you are not passionate, you will lose the battle halfway.
TB: Where do you see yourself after ten years? What are your visions?
One should continuously look for opportunities and aim higher. Like I said earlier, we are currently looking to expand our business overseas. I want our company to become an international player for jewellery packaging.
I was all prepared to set up my office in China, but considering the present scenario, I decided to cast aside my idea. Even in this lockdown, we have supplied our mask to one big business in Dubai.
YM: You have the hold of seven businesses, how do you balance your personal life and your jam-packed schedule?
Due to my struggling years in childhood, my family also underwent immense hardships; we faced financial constraints now and then. All the circumstances led to me countless sacrifices. Gradually, I learned things and toiled for all those years to create my present.
This has turned me into a workaholic person. I have become a striver who wants to step ladders to achieve my goals. The most notable is I am getting married next year. Since my family is small, I am easily acquainted with them.
I would add to say even after I get married, it’s all about managing things, and we have developed an emotional attachment to it, it’s not only about earning bread and butter but about the struggle of all those years.
As I stated earlier, I have visions to take it to an international level, as we have begun expanding to New Jersey and other countries. I would say it’s all about adjustments and understanding and coping with family and staff. I know I will be able to balance; that’s how life goes on.
Interviewed and Written by Yogita Malhotra and Tushant Baranwal