At 21, Kabir Bhasin was working at CITI Bank in Delhi when a phone call from his father changed his life. The family business in Bangalore was in trouble, the factory was facing a lockout it was time for Kabir to take his place in the family business.
East Distributions, a furniture manufacturing and export company, was conceived by Kabir’s parents Kamini and Devinder Bhasin in 1996 in Bangalore, after having shifted their base from Kolkata on account of the state policies not being very business friendly.
Stepping in by his parents’ side, the decision to take on the role that always seemed like a natural eventuality proved to be anything but smooth. At the tender age of 21, Kabir still had a lot to learn and familiarize himself with. Kabir graduated from Delhi University with B. Com honors. Managing the business with his traditional education, he was putting more than 12-14 hours a day at the factory, dealing with labor issues, finances, handling irate clients and striving to improve sales.
“I have inherited the vibrant spirit of entrepreneurship from my father who always encouraged me to join the business and do things on my own” says Kabir looking back at his decision to join father’s business.
After a year of tireless work, the factory was back on its feet securely. Kabir had grown volumes under his father’s guidance, absorbing every bit of knowledge that was imparted to him. But hungry for more and knowing the potential for growth, Kabir felt a change was needed.
Kabir reached out to Prof. Merchant of S.P.Jain who advised him to join a course specifically designed to cater to the intricacies involved in managing family businesses. Though initially skeptical, Kabir had faith in Prof. Merchant’s words.
Kabir soon came to realize that his family business set up was a small and traditional one and it restricted its own growth. After completing the course, Kabir joined the department of business development at Titan watches, a decision that seemed atypical at the time.
“What makes Titan a great brand is that not only do they have great products but also a strong network of loyal dealers across the world helping them retain their market leadership” observes Kabir.
After working with Titan for 18 months, Kabir once again joined East Distribution. Kabir’s main aim was to observe how he could help expansion through business development, operations efficiencies and various other aspects. Kabir still remembers Dr Srikant’s statement by heart “By the end of this course, instead of blood there will be business flowing in our veins.”
During his initial days back then, one of the unique challenges Kabir faced was the transition from weekly cash payouts to the laborers onto monthly payroll. However, moving all the factory workers onto a monthly salary basis comes with several statutory obligations. Kabir began to persuade his workers to open bank accounts. The initially approach resulted in another lockout, taxation being the primary concern. During this lockout, Kabir had to individually explain the benefits. To further communicate his empathy for their apprehension and also explain to them the importance of paying tax, Kabir took the entire workforce to watch ‘Lagaan’.
Kabir took over the reins of the business entirely after his parents retired in 2010. He has since started 9 ventures in his career.
www.furlenco.com is one of the first furniture renting platforms in Bangalore. It operates in the space of affordable luxury furniture and has received a very positive response since in launch. Kabir exited the company and moved on to launch a few other . the most recent is one which is in a completely different segment, entertainment ,with a site called www.fanagig.com .
www.fanagig.com is designed for live entertainment driven by fans. It unites fans with performers, revitalizing and revolutionizing the live industry in India.
Talking about the important influence on his career, Kabir credits his parents, especially his father and the exposure received at SP Jain. He recommends it to all the second-generation entrepreneurs. The course has made him understand the business world in depth and helped him understand the essence of money and how money works in the real world.
From inheriting business to starting and running companies on his own, Kabir has indeed come a long way but he insists that he still has a long way to go.
By Mr Ajinkya Arjun Swadekar
By Mr Ajinkya Arjun Swadekar