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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal

As part of its promotion for the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2010, Crossword sent me a pile of books to read and write about, and also to encourage readers participate and show their interest in their favourite titles, of which Crossword will hand out free copies (all you need to do is to be a member of this blog and share your comments on the relevant posts).

So right now the book I am reading is called Connect The Dots by author Rashmi Bansal. The book contains inspiring stories of 20 entrepreneurs without an MBA who dared to find their own path.

* This is a review copy and has not been purchased.

Here's a look at the cover jacket:
'Connect The Dots' is the story of 20 enterprising individuals without an MBA, who started their own ventures. They were driven by the desire to prove themselves. To lead interesting, passionate, meaningful lives. Their stories say one thing loud and clear. You don't need a fancy degree or a rich daddy to dream big and make it happen. It's all in your head, your heart, your hands.

Here's a look at the 20 individuals whose story is shared in this book:

1. Prem Ganapathy - Dosa Plaza: He came to Mumbai like millions of others, in search of a better future. Inspired by McDonald's, Prem Ganapathy has risen from humble dishwasher to owner of the fast food chain Dosa Plaza, with 26 outlets across India.

2. Kunwar Sachdev - Su Kam: Kunwar Sachdev is a statistics graduate but he can take on the best of engineers. An average student in school, he fell in love with Physics late in life and turned it into a profitable business. Today, he runs Su-Kam, a Rs. 500 crore company in the field of Power Electronics.

3. Ganesh Ram - Veta: As an NSS volunteer, Ganesh Ram discovered he had a knack for teaching. From a singe coaching centre in 1981, Vivekananda Study Circle has grown into VETA - India's largest trainer in the field of spoken English.

4. Sunita Ramnathkar - Fem Care Pharma: Four months after the birth of her second daughter, this fiesty housewife launched 'Fem' fairness bleach. Over the next 27 years, the home-grown skincare company held its own against large multinationals, only recently selling out to Dabur.

5. N Mahadevan - Oriental Cuisines: He gave up the 'prestigious' job of a professor in Madras University, to set up a Chinese restaurant. But his knowledge of cost accounting was equally handy in the kitchen. Today, N Mahadevan runs a food empire stretching across cuisines and continents.

6. Hanmant Gaikwad - BVG (Bharat Vikas Group): As an engineering student, Hanmant Gaikwad took tuitions - to support himself through college. Today, he runs the Rs. 300 crore Bharat Vikas Group (BVG), a facilities management firm which not only has the cream of corporate clients, ,but maintains Rashtrapati Bhavan.

7. Ranjiv Ramchandani - Tantra T-shirts: Ranjiv Ramchandani studied microbiology but hated it. He joined advertising, but hated the hierarchy. Ultimately, he became his own boss with Tantra - a company which prints wacky and uniquely Indian T-shirts. And, he's lovin' it!

8. Suresh Kamath - Laser Soft Infosystems: This MTech from IIT runs a software firm where programming jobs are open to all - not just engineers. Suresh Kamath believes that social responsibility and sound business can go hand in hand - and his company is living proof of it.

9. Raghu Khanna - Cashurdrive: Raghu Khanna is 24 years old and started a company right out of college. Cashurdrive is based on a simple idea which required no capital, no office, no fancy technology. His story shows that experience is over-rated - there is no better time to start, than now.

10. R Sriram - Crossword: Sriram did not have the burning ambition to start a business - he simply wanted to immerse himself in the world of books. Yet, this college dropout went on to build India's largest bookstore chain, and spread the 'reading' virus far and wide.

11. Saurabh Vyas and Gaurav Rathore - PoliticalEDGE: Hostel ki dosti and a common love for politics gave birth to this uncommon company. These two idealistic young men are putting their grey cells to use, providing research and consulting services exclusively for politicians.

12. Satyajit Singh - Shakti Sudha Industries: Satyajit Singh was comfortably placed in life, distributing consumer durables. Yet, one fine day he shut down that business, to take on the challenge of commercialising makhana. In doing so, he has found a mission in life and brought benefits to thousands of marginalised farmers.

13. Sunil Bhu - Flanders Dairy: He was a city boy who knew he wanted to work on a farm. Right after college, Sunil went to Belgium, where he learnt all about making cheese. That's what he's been doing at Flanders Dairy for the last two decades and enjoying every moment of it.

14. Chetan Maini - Reva Electric Car Company: Chetan Maini was crazy about electronics - as far back as he can remember. It's this passion that led him to pursue the dream of producing an electric car. Today, Reva is not only producing such vehicles but licensing its technology to the likes of General Motors.

15. Mahima Mehra - Haathi Chhap: She wanted to work in recycling, but not with an NGO. So, she ended up starting a business in handmade paper. Along the way she discovered many interesting things, including an unexpected use for elephant dung.

16. Samar Gupta - Trikaya Agriculture: Samar was a city boy with no burning ambition in life. But when life threw up a challenge, he decided to face it head on. Over the last decade Trikaya Agriculture has matured from a hobby into a flourishing business, ever expanding the frontiers of 'what can be grown' in India.

17. Abhijit Bansod - Studio ABD: As a young NID graduate, Abhijit Bansod wondered why desi designers were always inspired by the West. He went on to pioneer the uniquely Indian 'Heritage' and 'Raga' collections at Titan, and now runs his own product design company.

18. Paresh Mokashi - Harishchandrachi Factory: Paresh Mokashi wanted to be an actor, but found his niche as a playwright and director on the Marathi stage. A chance reading of Dadasaheb Phalke's biography led him on to a new adventure - a widely acclaimed feature film which was India's official entry at the Oscars in 2009.

19. Krishna Reddy - Prince Dance Group: In a small town in Orissa, Krishna Reddy assembled a group of daily wage labourers and formed 'Prince Dance Group'. This troupe won the hotly competed 'India's Got Talent' show, enthralling the audience with its unique brand of mythology-inspired choreography.

20. Kalyan Varma - Wildlife Photographer: At 22, Kalyan Varma had a 'dream job' with Yahoo. But one fine day he quit and pursued his passion - wildlife photography. Today, he is a living example of an 'idiot' who's living his dream and making a living, out of something he truly loves.

- Debolina Raja Gupta