20 Nov 2018, 10:13 — 6 min read
Enterprise: Bipha Drug Laboratories Pvt Ltd
CEO: Ajay George Varghese
Industry: Beauty, cosmetics, personal care
Year it was founded: 1929
Based out of: Kottayam
There is a lot to be said for a brand that has stood the test of time for nine decades and continues to reinvent itself while being true to its founding principles. Bipha Drug Laboratories Pvt Ltd is such an Auyrvedic legacy brand that was founded in 1929 by Pappy Vaidyar in Ochira, Kerala. Pappy was an accomplished Ayurvedic physician with a divine gift to heal and the sole motive to alleviate suffering. Taking this rich legacy forward in the 21st century is third generation entrepreneur Ajay George Varghese. Under his leadership, Bipha has not only increased its product portfolio but also expanded its global footprint.
Ajay’s strength has been to reimagine Ayurveda so that it is more accessible to the modern urban population. Bipha offers traditional ayurvedic formulations in convenient tablet form without compromising on efficacy. Bipha has wide range of products under the segments of Aroma, Ayurvedic Formulations, Food and Nutrition, Personal Care and Wellness Supplements.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Ajay George Varghese (Ajay) shares his business journey.
GL: Tell us about your business.
Ajay: Bipha is an Ayurvedic company, founded by Pappy Vaidyar in 1929. We are one of the first Ayurvedic companies from Kerala.
In Ayurveda you have two types of products – classical products and proprietary products, which are special formulations. At Bipha, we are proud to have several proprietary products that are extremely popular and efficacious. Our focus has always been to provide genuine products that customers can rely upon.
The growth of the company has been phenomenal. In the 1960s we laid the foundation for a modern enterprise. In the 1970s we were the first Ayurvedic company in Kerala to manufacture ayurvedic formulations in convenient forms such as tablets. This was also the time we started exporting to other countries. In 2010, we got into retail in a big way. Our first retail store started at the Cochin International Airport. We primarily got into retail because of the rise in lifestyle diseases. The urban mobile population was not really going to their roots (of Ayurveda) to combat lifestyle disorders. We felt this was a large, albeit unorganised market and there was an opportunity to deliver our products through retail channels. At present we have 12 stores. Our goal is to have 100 stores by 2021. We also sell on various online platforms as well as our own website.
We have a diversified portfolio of products. We started with two products and now we have over 340 products across seven categories. Our first international store is coming up in Kuwait followed by Romania. We export to 15-20 countries.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
Ajay: We are the only Ayurvedic retailer from Kerala with nine decades of experience. We have mastered the process of creating genuine ayurevdic products. We still follow a lot of the original practices such as use of woodfire, copper vessels and granite motor & pestle. The system is semi-automated now, but the processes are still original. It’s the ideal convergence of the old and the new.
We are an extremely customer-centric organisation. Every decision is taken keeping the customer in mind. Our company is built on a single value called ‘trust’. Trust is what we stand for, trust is what we sell. This trust based on value, legacy, history, principles and relationships.
GL: What are some of your major business challenges?
Ajay: Manpower is the biggest challenge for any company that is looking to grow. Finding good, committed and qualified people is challenging, everything else is manageable.
Awareness about Ayurveda is lacking. Even though it’s part of our heritage, very few have a real understanding of Ayurveda. People look at it as an alternative rather than a holistic and significant wellness system. Ironically, it is a system that is being recognised and appreciated in other countries apart from India.
GL: What is your big business dream?
Ajay: We aim to have more than 20 retail stores by the end of the year. We would like to grow our presence in tier 1 & 2 cities in India. By 2021 our target is to have 100 stores.
Our vision is to have an even stronger multinational presence. We already have a presence in Europe, Middle East, Maldives and Seychelles. We want to make Ayurveda accessible and popular. We are in the process of establishing high-end experience centres in different countries. Besides products, these centres will offer services. We also want to create online retail digital centres.
GL: How do you believe GlobalLinker can benefit entrepreneurs?
Ajay: GlobalLinker is a great platform to network with fellow entrepreneurs.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Ajay: Entrepreneurship is a great avenue for any individual to opt for. India has a population of 1.3 billion. We have dynamic talent and pool of resources. To provide people productive employment is the biggest opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurs. Profit is a by-product; the ‘people’ element is very important in entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is not easy. It’s a challenging process, but equally exciting and rewarding. Commitment, persistence, hard work, passion are some of the qualities you require to be an entrepreneur.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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