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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Amazing journey of Prakash Goduka who overcame all odds to build Rs. 75 cr brand Freshy

While he was in college, Prakash Goduka, who is 36  years old now, sold processed tea to tea vendors to support his family. His brother joined the business afterwards.

The family’s enterprises generate Rs 75 crore in revenue. Freshy, their main brand, sells juices, snacks, sauces, pickles, and jams. Freshy and Prakash Goduka’s narrative takes place in Assam, beginning in Shivsagar area, where Prakash grew up.

The rise of Prakash’s family from a humble background to owners of one of North East India’s successful homegrown brands that has spread to seventeen states in India and the Gulf countries and Hong Kong in less than two decades is a testament to the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Prakash’s joint family is middle-class. “My uncles ran a grocery store and my father owned a textiles shop,” recalls Prakash. “My uncles bought a tea garden and started processing and manufacturing tea.”

He thinks the family split in 2005 started the problems. “Family disputes began in 2001 and escalated in 2004 when it was decided to divide the shares. “My father got some cash and a house in Guwahati,” he recalls.

Prakash was a college student. Since his father’s company couldn’t support the family, he started his own. “The family struggled. In order to pay for college, Prakash sold processed tea to tea stall merchants from 2002 to 2005. Bikash, his college-studying younger brother, accompanied him. The family moved to Guwahati by then.

We bought, packed, and sold tea to tea booths. Bikash says, “We sold 3000-4000 kg tea per month to support our family and pay for our education.” Prakash’s 2005 Guwahati exhibition gave the hardworking brothers their big break. The first year’s sales were 4x Prakash’s objective of Rs 50 lakh.

“A large crowd was in front of a ground stall. “I found that a Bangladesh-based company was selling lychee drink at a very nominal price and people were queuing up to buy it,” says Prakash.

“I tasted it and realised India didn’t make lychee drink, so we could start the business. My father and brother and I agreed to establish the business.” The family spent Rs 15 lakh in a Guwahati ready-to-drink lychee juice and orange squash factory at 3,000 sq ft.

Food technologists and suppliers were contacted to introduce the product. Bikash recalls, “We hired around 10 workers and started the company with an aim to do at least Rs 50-60 lakh in the first year.” They focused on the North East sector.

“We appointed Meghalaya, Manipur, and Assam distributors. We visited stores and asked distributors to sample our items. Bikash, the group’s financial manager, says, “Our distributors and customers liked our products because they were good.”

In their first year, the trio made Rs 2-2.5 crore, exceeding their financial aim.

“We immediately bought a 57,000 sq ft plot in Guwahati and expanded the plant in 2006. R K Goduka, the family patriarch and group chairman, says they introduced pickles, sauces, vinegar, jams, and other goods.

Britannia, a major Indian food and beverage company, ordered them to make and distribute Rusk biscuits in 2009.

Business lasted till 2013. Later, we started to make similar cookies and started exporting them to Gulf countries,” says Bikash, adding that the company also launched packaged drinking water in 2013 and set up a fresh juice unit in Guwahati with a 1000-litre-per-hour capacity in 2013. With 100 employees, the company’s 2015 turnover was Rs 20 crore.

SM Commo trade, SM Fruit Products, SM Fruit and Beverages, SM Consumers, Yippee Consumers, and Brahmaputra Foods are the group’s seven firms. During the epidemic, the business put up a mask facility and expects to develop personal health items.

The trio advises entrepreneurs: No business is large or tiny. Don’t blame luck — luck favours diligent workers.


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