My Business: Indian youth brand Happily Unmarried - BBC News My Business: Indian youth brand Happily Unmarried - BBC News

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Business: Indian youth brand Happily Unmarried - BBC News

My Business: Indian youth brand Happily Unmarried - BBC News

Rahul Anand and Rajat Tuli on how they created a youth brand for India

What makes an entrepreneur? The BBC's Saima Iqbal and Tom Santorelli speak to Rahul Anand and Rajat Tuli, about turning an idea about making products tailored specifically for young, upwardly-mobile Indians into a thriving business.

Business partners Rahul Anand and Rajat Tuli first met while pursuing their Masters degrees.

In 2003 the software company they had joined together went bankrupt and they decided it was time to take the plunge and start their own enterprise.

They had the notion that there was a niche in the market for a brand which catered for India's youth - a demographic which they thought up to then was being underserved.

At the time a large number of foreign companies were setting up their outsourcing arms in India.

Rahul and Rajat realised that this would mean there would be more young employees with disposable income, but there was no brand completely dedicated to India's youth.

"The youngsters these days are independent, they have opinions and they like to make a statement with the T-shirts they are wearing or the glass they are sipping their drink from" says Rajat.

The idea for their business hit them while they were both out jogging. They were so excited by the brand name they immediately ran to a cyber cafe and registered it.

My Business

What does it take to build your own business from scratch?

How does a US expat navigate Russian bureaucracy? Or illiterate Moroccan women learn to sell their own wares? Or a Brazilian designer win over Western celebrities?

BBC World Service reporters speak to entrepreneurs around the world about their inspiration, struggles and successes.

Happily Unmarried would be a fun brand which made a vast range of products from household items to clothes and beyond which catered for young Indians. The sort of well-designed yet functional items a young single - or taken - person might like to be seen with.

Seed capital

But their former employers had not paid them for the last six months and they had no capital to get their venture off the ground.

Pawning a laptop given to them by their old company raised 25,000 rupees ($450) - which was not even enough for them to hire office space. "So we said let's give the impression that we're a really cool company! So we got nice visiting cards made, very fancy posters made and put them everywhere. And then we got a website...we were operating out of cyber cafes, out of buses, out of other peoples' offices, and that's how we managed in the first couple of years" says Rajat.

Their efforts at raising their brand awareness paid off. Starting out with a small kiosk inside a mall in Delhi, they now sell in 25 stores across 80 cities in India. "We also have stores in smaller towns in India and the sales are encouraging, it shows that Indian youth in smaller cities also like to spend and they are opening up to products that are in your face and make a statement" says Rahul.

Design ethos

The partners employ four designers to come up with new product concepts: "The basic surmise is very simple. It has to make you smile", says Rahul. Their products are colourful, funny and are often emblazoned with somewhat irreverent text which makes them a hit with the younger generation.

But their goods are also designed while keeping the utility factor in mind, says Rajat. "We have designed some innovative laundry bags, toothpick holders, key holders for walls, door-mats and tea-cups that are not just great design ideas but we need them in our lives too".

They are open to new ideas and one need not be a professional designer to design for them according to Rahul: "People from all walks of life write to us sharing their ideas and if we like the idea and decide to turn it into a product then they get royalties and credit".

E-commerce is also one of the fastest growing platforms for their products and the past year alone has seen the highest online sales of their products. "People have better access to the internet and they are opening up to the idea of shopping on the internet" says Rajat.

Youth connections

They have been able to leverage the ubiquity of social media sites to increase sales and create a sense of community in their customer base. "It just reaffirms your's a feel-good factor!" says Rajat, checking the number of friends Happily Unmarried has on Facebook - 63,00 and counting.

One of the aspects of the business the partners enjoy the most is putting on one of India's biggest independent music festivals - called Music in the Hills - in different venues each year. It helps introduce people young and old to the Happily Unmarried brand. "It's a big party for two days and two nights" says Rajat. "It works as a huge promotion for us and we love doing it".

Operating out of an office in Delhi, most of their 200 or so products are made in smaller towns closer to Delhi like Saharanpur, Roorkee, Moradabad and Panipat which are the traditional industrial hubs of northern India. "These cities have seen huge losses due to a lot of manufacturing industries going to China, but the cost of production is low and fits our needs" says Rajat.

With an annual turnover of 5 crores (roughly $900,000; £570,714; 707,247 euros) Rajat feels the industry is taking them seriously now. "We're not just designing products we are also designing restaurants, organising events and giving them our touch by making it more fun".

Stocks Drop Over 1% on Greece Fears; FB Gains - CNBC

Stocks dropped near session lows Wednesday, with all 10 S&P sectors trading in negative territory, amid worries that Greece could exit the euro zone and ahead of an informal EU Summit in Brussels.

The euro fell below $1.26, hitting its lowest against the dollar since July 2010. And the German 30-year bund yield tumbled below 2 percent for the first time ever.

“This is a market that’s nervous over the deteriorating situation in Greece and Europe and waiting for a policy response that can assuage fears,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was sharply lower, led by H-P [HPQ  Loading...      ()   ] and Intel [INTC  Loading...      ()   ]. The blue-chip index is having its worst day in almost six weeks.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also added to declines. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded above 24.

All 10 S&P sectors traded in negative territory, led by energy and techs.

Stocks closed flat in the previous session after Greece's former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the risk of Greece leaving the euro is real, and that an exit would have "catastrophic" economic consequences for Greece and the rest of the euro zone.

Papademos later clarified to CNBC that no preparations were underway in Greece for possibly exiting the euro.

Still, worries over Greece's potential exit kept investors on edge, especially ahead of the EU summit. European stocks fell sharply, reversing a two-session recovery rally.

The informal summit is expected to discuss growth-boosting measures and the prospect of common euro zone bonds, but investors doubt it will produce a plan to resolve the debt crisis and restore market optimism, especially as Germany strongly opposes the idea of mutualizing debt.

“This is a market that demands flexibility and caution,” cautioned Krosby. “There will be rumors that come out of this meeting—and rumors can move the market both up and down.”

On the economic front, new home sales rose 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 343,000-unit annual rate in April, according to the Commerce Department, beating expectations for a 335,000-unit reading.

Facebook [FB  Loading...      ()   ]traded higher, struggling to recover sharp losses from the last two trading sessions. Needham initiated coverage of the firm with a "buy" rating and a $40 price target. (Read More: Morgan Stanley Under Review Over Handling of Facebook)

Dell [DELL  Loading...      ()   ] plunged after the IT giant forecast disappointing second-quarter revenue as U.S. and European corporate tech spending weakens and consumer personal computer sales continue to shrink. At least nine brokerages slashed their price target on the firm.

Rival Hewlett-Packard [HPQ  Loading...      ()   ] is scheduled to post after the closing bell tonight. The Dow component is also expected to announce steep layoffs during its earnings report.

Toll Brothers [TOL  Loading...      ()   ] edged higher after the luxury homebuilder posted earnings that beat expectations and reported a strong jump in new orders, thanks to a strong spring selling season.

Guess [GES  Loading...      ()   ] jumped after the clothing maker reported a quarterly profit that beat market expectations. And PetSmart [PETM  Loading...      ()   ] surged after the pet products retailer posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook. At least nine brokerages boosted their price target on the firm.

Ford [F  Loading...      ()   ] received its second "investment grade" credit rating, allowing the second-largest U.S. automaker to reclaim its Blue Oval insignia and other assets it mortgaged in 2006 to fund its turnaround plan.

Meanwhile, Ariba [ARBA  Loading...      ()   ] was trading flat after European software company SAP [SAP  Loading...      ()   ] said it plans to buy the company in a deal valued around $4.3 billion, the latest sideswipe against rival Oracle [ORCL  Loading...      ()   ] in the fast-growing Internet-based computing market.

The government is scheduled to auction $35 billion in 5-year notes at 1pm ET.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: 5-yr note auction; Earnings from NetApp, Pandora
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, jobless claims, 7-yr note auction, BlackRock shareholders mtg, Goldman Sachs shareholders mtg, McDonald's shareholders mtg; Earnings from Costco, Tiffany
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, USDA food prices outlook

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Business community lends a hand with start-up grants - Smoky Mountain News

Two businesses — Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon, and Belle on Main Salon and Spa — came out winners during the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual Business Start-up Competition this year.

Thirteen entrepreneurs contended for the $10,000 prize purse this year. The competition is judged by a four-person panel of representatives from the economic development and financial sectors in the county. The field is then narrowed to two before a winner is announced. However, this year, both finalists were named victors, splitting the money in half.

“Both have a great deal of passion. They have a passion that they eat, breathe and sleep,” said Charles Umberger, chairman of the Chamber’s Business and Economic Development Committee and president and CEO of Old Town Bank.

Contestants had to submit a detailed business plan describing their concept, current progress and future goals. While the winning businesses get a tangible boost in their start-up venture, one virtue of the competition is simply encouraging entrepreneurs to formulate a business plan, so even those who don’t win are still better off for going through the process.

The winning submissions had “lots of good things,” Umberger said.

Small businesses account for millions and millions of new jobs in the U.S. every year. That is why the chamber and other sponsors continue to reward quality small business ideas annually, Umberger said.

“Small business matters in the United States. It matters big time,” Umberger said.

A key pillar of economic development is to promote the start-up and expansion of local and small businesses in Haywood County.

“I have never been anywhere as entrepreneur-friendly as Haywood County,” said Ken Flynt, a longtime banking executive, finance professor at Western Carolina University and Chamber board member. “This really is a great place for entrepreneurs.”

In addition to the chamber, other competition sponsors include BB&T, Old Town Bank, Evergreen Packaging, Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Beverly Hanks, Clark & Leatherwood, Northwestern Mutual, Smoky Mountain Development, Haywood County Economic Development Commission, the Western Carolina University College of Business, Haywood Advancement Foundation, Aermor and Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center.


Artisan foods, salon take prize for best business plan

The winners of this year’s Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start-up Competition represent the two sides of business — goods and service.

One provides a valued service to consumers, while the other sells quality products. Each received $5,000 for winning the contest for entrepreneurs with the promise of creating jobs this year.

Belle on Main Salon and Spa

Belle on Main Salon and Spa opened less than a month ago on South Main Street in Waynesville. The business is a full-service salon and owned by Joey Del Bosque, who previously worked solely as a masseur.

“I’ve been self-employed for a very longtime, and this was an opportunity to branch out,” Del Bosque said.

Del Bosque is a certified massage therapist with 16 years experience and received his certification in cosmetic arts from Haywood Community College. He also holds a business and accounting degree and worked as an accountant for 10 years.

The salon is “ clean, bright, new, modern,” said Charles Umberger, the president of Old Town Bank who announced the winners on behalf of the chamber at a luncheon last week. The business plan was impressive because it exhibited Del Bosque’s money management background, with goals, projections and budgets, Umberger said.

The salon has been a dream for Del Bosque for a while, and he was able to reach out to others for help.

“By God, he pulled it off,” Umberger said. “Through family, friends and angels, he got some start-up financing.”

Del Bosque will use the money from the competition to advertise his new business, helping to ensure its success.

“(The money) means an opportunity to launch our name,” Del Bosque said.

Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon

The second time’s a charm for Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon. After entering the competition last year, the owners, a pair of sisters-in-law, decided to try again and took home half of this year’s $10,000 prize.

Dayna Stubee and Jessica DeMarco started the venture about a year ago and are the sole employees. The business makes and sells jams, pickles and other artisan foods using ingredients from six local farms.

“It is something we have always done as a family thing,” DeMarco said. Both women have degrees in culinary arts.

The business has no storefront currently, but they sell their goods at the Historic Waynesville Farmers Market and on With the money, the pair plans to hire a part-time employee and expand their production.

Part of the reason they were chosen was because of their focus on handcrafted items and local sustainability, Umberger said.

Morning business round-up: Eurozone fears mount - BBC News

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

European Union leaders will meet in Brussels on Wednesday as fears mount over the region's debt crisis, amid concern that Greece may have to leave the euro.

Leaders are expected to hear the new French President, Francois Hollande, challenge the EU's German-led austerity drive.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, is also keeping up the pressure on Greece to fix its finances.

In an interview with the BBC, Ms Lagarde said there had to be more tax collection and structural reform.

That is despite the deep unpopularity of austerity measures imposed on Greece by the IMF and European Union in return for bailout funds.

Greek politicians are divided over whether to continue supporting those measures and face a 17 June election.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has warned that the eurozone crisis could harm the growth of East Asian economies.

The bank said that a "serious disruption" in the eurozone could hurt growth and dent demand for exports from East Asia.

It said that East Asian countries needed to boost domestic demand to rebalance their economies and sustain growth.

In company news, Fiat and Mazda have formed an alliance to develop two-seater sports cars.

The alliance will work on a car for Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand and a roadster with a different engine and styling for Mazda.

The cars will be built at Mazda's plant in Hiroshima. Both will be based on a new version of Mazda's MX 5, the car that Mazda is best known for.

Business headlines

The Indian rupee hit a record low against the dollar in early trade on Wednesday.

The Indian currency fell to 55.82 rupees against the US dollar, down from 55.39 on Tuesday.

The slide comes amid concerns that slowing growth and a high rate of inflation may hurt India's economy.

Lenovo, the world's second largest PC maker, has reported a big rise in annual profits thanks to strong demand for its products in China.

Beijing-based Lenovo made $473m (£300m) in the year to 31 March, compared with $273m in the previous year.

Japan's exports rose less-than-forecast in April, hurt by a drop in shipments to China and Western Europe.

Exports rose by 7.9% from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast growth of close to 12%.

Reebok India has lodged a police complaint against two former executives, accusing them of commercial and financial irregularities.

The firm alleged that former managing director Subhinder Singh Prem and ex-chief operating officer Vishnu Bhagat set up secret warehouses, fudged accounts and indulged in fictitious sales.

It said such activities by the two had resulted in a loss of almost 13bn rupees ($233m; £160m).

UK defence giant BAE has signed a £1.9bn ($3bn) deal with Saudi Arabia to supply aircraft, including 22 Hawk trainer jets, and training equipment.

According to trade union Unite, 218 jobs at the East Yorkshire factory where the aircraft is made will now be saved.

Retail sales volumes in the UK fell by 2.3% in April, largely because of a record fall in petrol sales, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Sales of fuel were down by 13.2% in April. In March, motorists had panic-bought petrol ahead of a threatened tanker driver strike.

Sales of clothing and footwear were also affected by April's record rainfall.

Luxury fashion retailer Burberry has reported strong growth in annual profits as it continues to expand around the world.

Pre-tax profits were up 24% to £366m, with sales also up 24% to £1.86bn.

The company said the Asia Pacific region accounted for 37% of both retail and wholesale revenue. The firm plans to invest £200m this year and open 12-14% more space.

The latest Business Daily podcast considers the impact that a slowdown in China could have on the rest of the world.

Business leaders celebrate county success - This is Gloucestershire

More than 70 business leaders attended a reception last night for the launch of the 2012 Top 100 Businesses in Gloucestershire supplement which will be published in The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo on June 26.

The event was held at the Cheltenham campus of Gloucestershire College and the supplement is being sponsored by BPE solicitors, Endsleigh Insurance and Hazlewoods accountants who were all represented.

Ian Mean, Editor in Chief of Gloucestershire Media, publisher of The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo said the Top 100 supplement was first launched seven years ago and had now become “a bible and barometer of business success in Gloucestershire.”

And he announced some exciting developments in Gloucestershire Media’s business coverage. The launch of a new southwestbusiness website dedicated to Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath and a new glossy monthly business magazine for the county called Agenda.

Through the website the latest business updates will be emailed out daily to the county’s opinion formers.

“It is quite a big development and there is a lot of interest from our business partners,” said Ian Mean. “The new Agenda magazine is going to humanise business in Gloucestershire.”

He thanked the county’s businesses for supporting Gloucestershire Media’s business publications - both editorially and commercially.

“Kevan Blackadder, Editor of the Gloucestershire Echo, and I believe business is a very good story,” Ian told the business leaders. “But without your partnership we don’t have anything.”

Chris Pitt, marketing manager of Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical, which took the number four spot in last year’s Top 100, said the insurance group was celebrating its 125 anniversary but looking to the future.

As a protector of some of the nation’s most important historic buildings, Ecclesiastical was the real expert in the field and would stick to its principles confident this was the way forward.

He said The Top 100 was a great way to celebrate the thriving businesses in Gloucestershire.

Chris Pockett, head of communications at engineering group Renishaw, said whilst it was good to see new businesses breaking through there was “a certain reassurance” to see the same company names appearing in the Top 100 list year after year.

Renishaw was in a strong position, performing well and seeking 100 skilled people to help ensure the group’s future success. It is also planning to expand its county sites by 280,000 square feet

The group will donate £90,000 to community organisations this year within a 50 mile radius of its Wotton-under-Edge HQ

“Whilst a list that highlights business achievement can be an excellent barometer of the wealth of Gloucestershire , in many ways it can also be a useful guide to the health of Gloucestershire,” said Chris Pockett.

And John Workman, senior partner at BPE solicitors, said: “Business is what makes Gloucestershire. We have a relationship with the business community that is time honoured and this is our heartland.”

He added that despite the recession businesses had learnt to “live with the new reality” and get on with it.

Ruth Dooley, partner at Hazlewoods accountants and business advisers, said it was good to talk up the county’s good business stories and celebrate success.

It was also good to see the private sector become involved with the public sector through initiatives like the Local Enterprise Partnership and have a voice to Government.

“There is a real will to promote business in Gloucestershire,” said Ruth. “We are delighted to be one of Gloucestershire’s growing businesses.

“We are delighted to be supporting the Top 100 supplement.”

Stocks on the Road to Greatness - Motley Fool

For every stock out there screaming, "buy me," others simply give us a nudge and a nod. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through Motley Fool CAPS to find four-star stocks giving us the a sign that they're approaching greatness. 

These opportunities -- including familiar names and beaten-down companies -- rank higher than most of the other 5,400 starred companies, and it pays to investigate their potential. For consideration today, I've got a pair of stocks on their way to fame and glory.

Source: Motley Fool CAPS.

As the 180,000-member CAPS community has chosen these two companies as less obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys, let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness
If wireless carriers can't buy their growth, like AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) failed effort to acquire T-Mobile last year, then they will seek other avenues for expanding their spectrum to meet their needs, and that's where Alcatel-Lucent profits.

I've noted previously that Cisco has said mobile-data traffic will increase 18-fold by 2016. Growth doubled for the fourth year in a row last year as smartphone usage tripled, and it will be responsible for an even larger percentage of data usage as time passes. Smartphones represent 82% of total handset traffic even though basic handsets still account for 88% of the devices on the market. The market opportunity is huge.

What opportunity? To help carriers meet their spectrum needs. Small-cell technology is the means for satisfying the demand for ever-greater amounts of traffic. The FCC won't be auctioning new spectrum for years yet, so the capacity crunch that's coming will make investors in equipment-makers like Alcatel and Ericsson handsome profits.

Both Sprint (NYSE: S  ) and AT&T already have plans to start deploying the small-cell technology these companies produce, and as it's a leader in the field, I believe Alcatel will continue leading the way. Although my CAPScall on Alcatel hasn't paid off yet (nor my real-life investment in the company), I'm fairly confident that because this is still very early innings, and as CAPS member Reyniel says, the boom will materialize sooner rather than later:

Cellular providers will need to move toward 4g soon. The next iteration of the iPhone will force that move. Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio offers a cost slashing, new age method of squeezing the most of the spectrum. Small cell is the future, and ALU is leading the way.

Add Alcatel-Lucent to your watchlist, and tell me in the comments section below or on the Alcatel-Lucent CAPS page if you think they're about to dial up new growth.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
Following the pole star to mark one's position has been used by travelers for ages. Investors might want to adopt a similar strategy by following the market's pole star, ATV-maker Polaris Industries. Few companies have the record it does of beating analyst forecasts, and last month, it notched its 20th consecutive positive earnings surprise. At a time when Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG  ) is getting eclipsed by slowing sales and Arctic Cat (left investors cold with a gloomy outlook, Polaris continues to shine brightly.

ATVs, the main driver of Polaris' growth, was strong again, and even internationally, despite the financial climate in Europe, it saw sales rise 20%. Partially explaining the weak results at Arctic Cat, Polaris admits that the warmer-than-usual winter left inventories higher than normal on snowmobiles, but its growing presence in motorcycles -- it purchased the iconic Indian brand last year -- continues to exceed expectations. It subsequently increased full-year revenue and earnings guidance.

Not only does CAPS member dreamjob like the strong lineup of brands Polaris offers, but he's also enamored of the solid dividend it pays that currently yields 1.9%:

This looks like a well managed company selling at or slightly below intrinsic value. They have manageable debt, and pay a dividend as well. Positive and stable free cash flows and owner earnings as well. Very solid brand name within the family of products they provide.

Add Polaris to the Fool's free portfolio tracker, and let us know on the Polaris CAPS page or in the comments below if you'll follow this company to greater profits.

A great opportunity for you
Investor sentiment suggests these four-star investments are on their way to five-star greatness, but while PCs and related companies might be hurting, the smartphone and tablet revolution is still gaining legs. You can read The Motley Fool's report on "The Next Trillion Dollar Revolution" to find out more. This report will be available only for a limited period. Get it before it's gone!

The Steve Jobs Betrayal
You may already know that in the final year of his life, Jobs revealed a stunning betrayal — and told his biographer, "I will spend my last dying breath... and every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank to right this wrong." What was it that made Jobs so irate — and why could it make a few in-the-know investors some major profits over the coming months and years?

Enter your email address below to find out what made Jobs so enraged!

Vince Cable: I am not holding back business - Daily Telegraph

Mr Cable hit back saying: "I'm getting on with my job, supporting business and getting growth growing in Britain. We not holding anybody back, I'm back growth, supporting British business, working with government, working with the labour-force in a partnership. That's the way it's got to happen.

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