This is a tale of an entrepreneur who came to the city of dreams “Mumbai” to support his family and faced a setback on his very first encounter with a Mumbaikar. Mr. Prem Ganapathy completed his education up to class 10 in Nagalapuram in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district. He did have ambitions to study further, but since he had to support his family, which comprised of his parents and seven siblings he had to go to Chennai for work. All he managed there were odd jobs that fetched him around Rs. 250 each month, which he would send back home.
A friend asked him to shift base to Mumbai where he would offer him work with a salary of Rs. 1200 in Mumbai. Without informing his parents, Only 17 years old, Ganapathy left for Mumbai only to be robbed at Bandra station by his acquaintance for Rs. 200. Penniless, he knew he had nothing to lose. The very next day, he got a job of washing dishes at a Bakery for a salary of Rs. 150 a month. He would sleep there too. So, with his accommodation sorted, he started picking up odd jobs at various restaurants and started saving money.
After almost two years of struggle, in 1992 he decided to start out on his own. He rented a handcart and invested more Rs. 1,000 and bought utensils, stove, etc. With this, he commenced his food business of selling South Indian delicacies – Idlis and Dosas on a street opposite Vashi Railway Station. With business picking pace, he asked his brothers Murugan and Paramashivan to join him. He knew hygiene was the key and thus they would always maintain cleanliness, wear clean clothes and wore caps too. This distinguished them from other road side sellers.
Becoming an entrepreneur at a young age was working in Ganapathy’s favor who realized that the recipes from his native place were his greatest asset. Soon, the business started generating a turnover of Rs. 20,000 per month. He rented out a place in Vashi, where the brothers would stay and work both. They would often face the risk of the Municipal Corporation seizing the cart and he would have to pay a hefty fine.
In 1997, five years after his entrepreneurial journey began, he rented out a small restaurant space and named it Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza. He became friends with his customers who were mostly college students. They taught him how to use the internet from where he started sourcing recipes from world over. This led to experiments like Schezwan Dosa and many such other innovative dishes. Within five years, he had dished out over 105 different varieties of Dosa.
He dreamt of opening an outlet in a mall but was constantly denied since his was not a “brand.” The management and staff of Centre One mall had dined at his outlet and they offered him a space at their food court. Ganapathy happily complied and since then he has not looked back. They got several franchise requests and he happily obliged. In 2007 – 08, they got the brand name Dr. D.
Ganapathy’s tale is one which truly inspires one to believe that giving up is easy, but an entrepreneur always takes the hard route. The growth of Dosa Plaza has been so phenomenal that people have approached him with requests to open outlets in other countries. They have presence in Dubai, New Zealand and Muscat. He started the business with a seed capital of Rs. 1,000 and his business currently has a revenue of more than Rs. 30 Crore each year.
If you too have entrepreneurial dreams or wish to have a venture like the ones listed above, you need to have faith in your Chatur Idea. You will always wonder who will fund this idea and from where will you find investors. In that case, you can participate in the #BeAChatur Contest and not only be mentored, but also stand a chance to win a whopping Rs.10 Lac funding for your dream startup idea.