A small-time beekeeper finds his sting at Surge2 years ago Guest - Neha Dhingra
The real success of the social enterprise startup ecosystem lies in reaching the hinterland. We at Surge Impact Foundation have been consciously making efforts to find, support and fund social enterprises from tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India.
Kanna Natural Honey (KNH) was one such social enterprise from our recent cohort. KNH sets up apiary units near farmlands that have flowering plants/crops and helps farmers get more crop yield through increased pollination. KNH was set up by Kanna in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and has been making honey since 2009 on a small scale. They were making a little less than Rs. 75,000 per month revenue at the time of joining the SIF accelerator program.
Kanna’s journey through the accelerator program and his metamorphosis toward the end of the program, when he was having discussions with investors to raise up to Rs. 50 Lakhs is what any social entrepreneur would want to achieve. It’s also the kind of growth path we at Surge strive to put our startups on.
So, what led to KNH’s metamorphosis? Three things, in particular:
- Thinking big – Though Kanna wanted to do ‘good business’, since he was from a small town, he had limited exposure to the larger market and hence was quite satisfied with what he was doing. All that changed for good after Kanna joined the accelerator programme and was exposed to ambitious peers and the general ecosystem. He learned that for him to succeed in life, he needs to start thinking big.
This had a ripple effect in the many decisions he took in his life, and it also affected the growth of his business tremendously. E.g., Kanna’s earlier packaging is reminiscent of his mindset and approach to his business. He decided to act on the inputs he received at Surge and recently rebranded his product, changed the packaging to give his product a more upmarket look. Moreover, he was able to raise the retail price of his product by 25 percent per kg due to this decision. At present, his monthly revenue is roughly Rs.1.75 Lakhs, more than double of what it was when he first joined the Surge accelerator program.
- Improving communication – Kanna realized how important communication was in improving his business. Kanna used to shy away from reaching out to people or talking to them. However, through Surge’s boot camps, he realized that the only way to make people aware of what he was doing was by building his communication skills and breaking the ice with his peers and stakeholders. Throughout this process, he was able to market his business and even refine his product branding. This shift in attitude helped him significantly expand his customer/reseller base as he was able to generate new allies and partners simply by reaching out.
- Becoming investible – The biggest takeaway for Kanna was to understand how his company could become investment-ready. He has been able to change his company’s legal status from a proprietorship to a partnership firm and has had more success in securing small investments to grow his business. Kanna understood the importance of putting processes in place, before he could raise bigger amounts of money. Inputs from SIF mentors on what it would take to handle large sums of money, helped him in having transparent discussions with investors.
Kanna summed up his experience with the accelerator in these words, “When I joined the accelerator programme, I only went there single-mindedly looking for money. I was so selfish, I didn’t realize that money was not the only deterrent to the growth of my business. This journey has helped me build so much confidence that I was able to refuse an investment in my business as I wanted it to be on my terms.”
About the Author:
Neha Dhingra is the Head of Knowledge Management at Surge Impact Foundation (SIF). It’s an impact business accelerator, based out of Hyderabad (www.surgeimpact.org). Its founding team has a lifetime experience of incubating & accelerating 50+ Social Enterprises. We are currently accepting applications for the 3rd cohort of our Surge-Mytrah Accelerator program. The deadline is 26th July.