“One wonderful thing about women that we tend to forget is we are the best influencers” says this weeks mompreneur Kranti Kkaulgud. Being the supermom she is to her two sons, she is also the executive director at Polychem, an ISO certified company manufacturing specialty chemicals since the last 24 years and going strong. Committed to providing solutions that not only solve problems but also help in saving energy at a substantial cost, they have expanded in various verticals both domestically as well as internationally over the years.
It was the great pleasure to interview Kranti on KYE’s Momtastic series.
KYE: What does Polychem do?
Kranti: A little bit about our company, we are into manufacturing of speciality chemicals with the main focus on creating import substitutes from raw materials that are available in India. Around 10 years ago, we conducted a research in terms of where does the lubrication industry stand and how the trends are evolving. We noticed a lot of MNCs were coming to India and they were internationally recognised however given Indian input-practices they had to buy in bulk because these products were imported so they had to be stored for atleast 2 months to ensure sufficient supply. There was a lot of investment happening in terms of procuring the products. Another thing we observed was we had a huge opportunity for us to create a dent. Being the smaller company we had to prove our metal before moving our products. We came up with import substitutes using Indian raw-material, which meant that the MNCs would procure our products just in time at a lower cost and lower turn-around time.
KYE: How do you manage the work and the home front so well?
Kranti: Polychem is a company started by my in-laws. My Father-in-law who was an eminent scientist in the field of lubrication and engineering. We’re second generation entrepreneurs, me and my husband joined polychem around 10+ years ago. I was a mom even back then and my sons were pretty young so it was definitely challenging. I believe woman are more flexible at adapting to change faster and that has helped me a lot in terms of managing multiple responsibilities and balancing the home front as well as the work front.
When I think about it, at the beginning of my journey my kids were also little and the entrepreneurship was also in its infant stage. Both fronts demanded a lot of time and attention. Also the situation on the home front was quite precarious because of my in-laws illness, there was a lot of upheaval going on. I remember the time when I used to think to myself how will I get over any of this and create some semblance or some balance on both the fronts. I did not want my kids to feel neglected when they needed me the most. I learned to focus on one day at a time, baby-steps, and small improvements every day. I became focused on creating systems that would enable order out of chaos. Now when I look back my kids are sufficiently grown up and so has our company, all of them have become independent. Now, I have more time to work on more initiative.
KYE: What was the motivation behind starting Polychem?
Kranti: My Father-in-law, Dr. Kaulgud was an academician. He had a PhD in chemistry and he was initially working as a professor in Ferguson College then he became the head of department and then went on to become the Vice Principal. He always had the observation that the education system in India does not have any connect to the Industry. He started this company with the thought that whatever our graduates are learning they should be in a position to actually apply it. That’s how Polychem was born. He was more research oriented rather than market oriented. During his time he had created almost 450 different formulations. There was a lot of work happening in terms of innovation.
KYE: What is it about this venture that gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Kranti: The biggest sense of accomplishment for us is when we see that over last n number of years very ordinary and simple people have worked with us and they are a part of our venture. With the right kind of support system and their own potential, they have grown so well. Their overall thinking has evolved a lot along with their lifestyles. It has also impacted their family lives enormously. That gives us a sense of accomplishment. Also given my management background, the turn-over we have grown to and still growing. We have been able to influence people to evolve and do better for themselves, that’s the biggest achievement for the entire venture.
KYE: What were the barriers you had to face and overcome during this journey?
Kranti: The barriers came in two phases. The first one was to do with myself in the sense that I had corporate experience mainly working with MNCs based out of the US. Now when you work with an MNC everything is organised, you have a set profile the support system is already there you’re doing your job and getting appraisals based on that. There are no huge surprises there, but when I moved to India, India in itself from a corporate culture-wise is an entirely new ball-game. Over that working as an entrepreneur for an SME requires a completely opposite mind-set than being a corporate sector employee. SME and Entrepreneurship do tend to be messy, there a lot of grey areas and it’s a disorganised sector. Initially I had to build a lot of patience in terms of accepting all of that. The second set of challenges was that the company was in existence for some time and there was a team in place and it was very much used to/ compatible to the family culture that the company had. They are all good people and a lot of them are still with us. Being in a smaller company makes your thinking also small and when you talk about growth or bigger goals they aren’t able to connect immediately. Secondly, it also disturbs their comfort zone, so resistance to change has been one of the barriers that I encountered.
KYE: At this point what is required for Polychem to reach its business aspirations?
Kranti: I feel for me to take Polychem to new heights I need to evolve continuously as a leader. I have consciously observed that the way I have evolved I have been able to impact and influence the team working with me and they have taken Polychem to the next level. It’s a team effort, so my evolution as a leader, my adapting to changes, my new learnings and implementation is going to take us further and further in growth aspects.
KYE: How has this venture changed you as a person?
Kranti: It has changed in multiple ways. When I first started I was very career-oriented, I was thinking about my career and what was going to be my next promotion and how to get there. But being an entrepreneur has definitely expanded my horizon. Growing up I wanted to be an IAS officer but due to some personal challenges I did not take that route. So I completed my MBA from US and when I considered getting straight into corporate India and work with an MNC but somewhere in my mind I had the thought that the reason I wanted to become an IAS officer was because I wanted to make an impact on the society. Therefore, in that context, just working with an MNC wouldn’t have done me much good, I wouldn’t have been able to impact the society. That is the reason I chose entrepreneurship. Even though it was very tough to get things going, I knew that I had the potential to impact a lot of people. This particular mind-set changed me a lot because I started looking at things with a more holistic perspective for the different stakeholders of my company. I wanted to create such an environment for them that would help them win their goals and at the same time create an impact on the National Economy. I believed that I didn’t need to be in the US to attain my financial goals, I could attain them even being in India. I felt through me there is a lot that can be achieved in other peoples’ lives and I would also be contributing to the National Economy. I became a bigger person in my thinking and that happened because I chose to be an entrepreneur.
KYE: What are the words of wisdom you’d like to share with the budding entrepreneurs?
Kranti: I feel a lot of people have potential, especially if we talk about Indians they do have a lot of potential and intelligence. One of the thing I have observed why we fail is because there is lack of will-power and consistency. And especially in case of women, we are trained that family comes first but what I believe is its not a one way street it works both ways. And that is how I’m able to be successful, my younger son who is just 9 years of age is also a support system for me. So, I am successful because my husband, my kids, my extended family is providing me support and vice versa. In terms of opportunity, we have enormous amounts of opportunities however what is required is the desire to keep pushing yourself. Obstacles will be there, you’ll be thrown off-course, you’re going to feel down and bad, you’re going to have self-doubt. All of that is going to happen but I feel that you should have a much bigger vision about your life and ofcourse keep on balancing the act. During my journey as an entrepreneur today I feel I’m a lot freer than I was 5-6 years ago in terms of time-management because things are running on auto-pilot now. I’ve created a culture of dependence and self-dependence at home, so my kids are supporting themselves and supporting each other.
One wonderful thing about women that we tend to forget is we are the best influencers. Its like the broken record technique, the more you play it the other person starts singing the same. So why not say positive things so they reciprocate the same.
Watch the entire video here-