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Karsanbhai Patel Success Story | Biography

Karsanbhai Patel 

Chairman, Nirma  

Though Karsanbhai Patel does not have a professional degree in marketing, yet he proved that a professional marketer does not need a formal degree in marketing to be successful !

Read Motivational Stories: Anand Kumar,  Stephen William Hawking

Dr. Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel is the founder of the present Rs. 3550 crore Nirma group with main activities in detergents, soaps, cosmetics, and salt. If marketing is to find the gaps and fill them, Karsanbhai Patel just hit the bull’s-eye.

Karsanbhai Khodidas was born in 1945, in Ruppur village in north Gujarat in a family of farmers. He graduated in Chemistry at the age of 21. Initially, he worked as a lab technician and later served the state Government. In 1969 at the age of 24, Karsanbhai started manufacturing phosphate free detergent powder, Nirma (named after his daughter Nirupama) in his backyard. He dedicated after office hours for manufacturing Nirma and sold on his bicycle while going to his work place, which was 17km from his home. The handmade detergent packets were sold at Rs. 3 per kg, which was one-third of then least priced popular detergents.

Read Here: Sunita Narain Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal

At that time domestic detergent market was limited only to premium segment and was dominated by MNCs. Karsanbhai Patel started door-to-door selling of Nirma and priced it at Rs. 3 per kg. The next available cheapest brand in the market at that time was Rs.13 per kg. Nirma revolutionized the whole detergent powder segment and in a short span of time created an entirely new market segment in the domestic detergent sector market. It gave the bigger established brands a run for their money and soon occupied the top market share. To add to all this, Nirma was made of an innovative formulation, which global detergent giants were later on compelled to emulate, it was phosphate free and hence environment friendly, and the process of manufacturing was labour intensive, which offered large scale employment.

Read More : CK Ranganathan,  Usha Uthup

The various products produced by the Brand are Detergents, Toilet soaps, Packaged Food, Industrial Products and fertilizers. 

  • Nirma, is now being recognized as the:
  • 9th among top FMCG brands in India, (A&M- Mode- 2002)
  • Selected as the super brand of the country for 2003-04
  • Most popular brands in the Detergent Powders- Economy category (FMCG awards 2003)

Karsanbhai stayed focused on cost reduction strategies to cement the slot for Nirma in the market. Consequently, Nirma adopted backward integration strategy while introducing latest technology to its production facilities to offer a better product at a reasonable price.

Read More :  Sunita Williams,   Naina Lal Kidwai

As far as corporate social responsibility (CSR) is concerned, Nirma has made some good efforts by starting Nirma Education & Research Foundation (NERF) in the year 1994 for the purpose of running various educational institutes. Nirma has also set up Nirma labs, which prepares aspiring entrepreneurs to effectively face the different business challenges. Nirma also runs Nirma Memorial Trust, Nirma Foundation and Chanasma Ruppur Gram Vikas Trust as a part of their effort as a socially responsible corporate citizen. It also owns Nirma University. 

The University emphasizes on the all round development of its students. It aims not only at producing good professionals, but, also good and worthy citizens of great country, aiding in its overall progress and development.

Read More :  Chetan Bhagat,   Chanda Kochhar

The objects of the university are to develop the knowledge of science & technology for it advancement of mankind in general and to provide for arrangement for national and global participation in the field of higher & professional education including technical education dental, medical, paramedical, physiotherapy, pharmacy, commerce, management, education and humanities. 

It aims at establishing close linkages with the industry to make teaching, research and training at the university relevant to the needs of the economy, at national and global level and to develop training facilities and make arrangements for training in higher education including professional education and allied fields.

Read More : Mr. Ajaypal Singh Banga,   Lakshmi Narayan Mittal

The Nirma university is a confederation of Institutes and faculties. The University functions with a relatively small administration, and with central bodies consisting of offices and academic personnel of the University and the University’s governance structure is essentially democratic.
The key to success of a university has been its people and the various activities of the university are governed by different bodies of people constituted for specific purposes of facilitating academic excellence at the university. The academic and general management of the university are taken care of by these bodies
Nirma Education and Research Foundation (established in 1994), presently includes following  top grade – 
  • Institute of Technology (1995)
  • Institute of Management (1996)
  • Institute of Diploma Studies (1997)
  • Institute of Pharmacy (2003)
  • Institute of Science (2004) 
  • Institute of Law (2007).   

All of the above institutions have emerged as of excellence offering various programmes ranging from undergraduate to doctoral levels in technology, engineering, business, pharmacy and sciences.

The company that was started in 1969 with just one man who used to deliver his product from one house to the other, today employs around 14 thousand people and has a turnover of more than $ 500 million. In 2004 Nirma’s annual sales were as high as 800000 tonnes. According to Forbes in 2005 Karsanbhai Patel’s net worth was $ 640 million.
Karsanbhai Patel has won many accolades on his way to success. In 1990, The Federation of Association of Small Scale Industries of India, New Delhi, awarded him with the ‘Udyog Ratna’. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce felicitated him as an 'Outstanding Industrialist of the Eighties'. The Govt. of India twice appointed him Chairman of the Development Council for Oils, Soaps & Detergents. Karsanbhai was awarded an “Honorary Doctorate” by Florida Atlantic University, recognizing his exceptional entrepreneurial and philanthropic accomplishments.
Challenging established multinationals needs extreme courage and to win in the long run needs marketing foresight. Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel, once a government servant with the knowledge and experience as a chemist offered a good product and was aggressive in marketing strategy. He made the multinationals to follow Nirma and introduce substitutes such as Wheel. In this respect, the Nirma case can be compared to those of Ford, Apple, Sony, and Honda, all one-of-a-kind entrepreneurs who built their empire on gut feeling rather than following the classical patterns taught in business schools. This is a genuine road from rags-to-riches one would like to follow. 
The story of Nirma has become a classic marketing case study.
Read  successs stories at  www.mbarendezvous.com