From entrepreneur to a marketing professional in the corporate world and back to being an entrepreneur - all in the span of 30 years or so. It has been an adventurous journey for Sunitha Srinivasan.
"Once upon a time, a long, long time ago…like all good stories, my journey has been a kind of a fairy tale, replete with all the adventures of a good novel,” says Sunitha Srinivasan as she reflects back on her career, “I was working for a large company that manufactured industrial flooring and imported Italian marble flooring slabs. I headed their operations for south India and had established the product range quite satisfactorily. The products had a synergy of sorts - the industrial flooring was used for shop floors, while the marble was used for the customer facing areas and in the residences of the senior management.”
However, as the sale of Italian marbles started increasing, the company started getting more and more feedback from customers that it was extremely difficult to maintain marbles as it is one of the softest natural stones and extremely porous.
According to Srinivasan, “To address this issue, the senior management of my company, sought the advice of a chemical engineer who developed a formula for an extremely effective cleaning product. It was gentle on marble and all other flooring substances. It was also safe for the user.” Since the product was economical and very efficient for removing grease and grime, it also found a market with her industrial flooring customers.
Somewhere around this time, fortune smiled on Srinivasan. The chemist who had developed the formula and was also manufacturing it, approached her to buy it along with the rights to manufacture. Srinivasan recalls, “This was a golden opportunity, except for the fact that his asking price was way more than I could afford at that time. Fortunately, my father recognised the potential of the product and agreed to put in the required amount. Thereafter for a few years there was no looking back….it was also the period of the textile and leather boom in the country and demand was extremely high for the product. The industrial flooring segment was also doing extremely well and it required me to set up a second production unit for the products in the south.”
Just when things were good, providence turned up at Srinivasan’s doorstep – a never-can-say-no-to offer from a giant retail chain. They wanted her to join their team. Srinivasan said, “It was literally a Hobson’s Choice – here I was doing something remarkable in a niche industry and there, I was being offered a plum, lucrative, exciting job the likes of which I would never ever get (or so I thought at that time). In a total dilemma, I consulted my father who encouraged me to take it up, for, I could always come back to my business, if things didn’t work out.”
She took the retail offer and her father honoured all the pending orders and slowly wound up the business. In the process, he safely locked up the precious formula in a bank vault. She told, “So, while my career in retail took me to several countries and across various roles for 20 years, the cleaning liquid remained a formula documented and tucked away in a vault of a bank.”
Srinivasan stated, “Around four years ago, I decided that the time had come to dust off the cobwebs and restart my manufacturing business. It took two years to upgrade the technology and find new raw material vendors. This time around, I had far more resources at my disposal and was able to take the help of German chemists to make the products biodegradable, eco-friendly and safe while keeping it efficient and economical. This time around, I was also a lot more experienced and with the back-up of the German chemists, I was able to offer my customers products that were tailor made to their requirements. This has resulted in us developing a stable of products for diverse uses. The company that was formed for manufacturing these products is again family owned and is called EIBS (Euro India Business Solutions. Me and my husband manage it. We restarted production on my father’s 15th death anniversary.”
A hospitality client required a dish wash liquid that would remove grease, food debris and stains from dishes while being safe on the hands of the workers even if they had to use the product without gloves for 12 hours at a stretch. Srinivasan informed, “We have developed such a product. A retail client had a requirement for a product that could clean the surface dirt and dust from external sign boards when sprayed on them from the ground. Recently we have developed a product to meet that requirement as well.”
The portfolio of products is now quite diverse and suitable for a wide range of uses. The original formula is now called Heavy Duty Cleaner and remains the in-house favourite simply because it is so effective. According to Srinivasan, “Our most popular product is our multipurpose cleaner that has Aroma oils for its pleasant fragrance and insect repellent properties. We have a glass and mirror cleaner in addition to the dishwash and the signage spray. The Covid crisis has also pushed us to start developing a range that may help our customers to fight the pandemic. Given the fact that our USP is our ability to customise our products, EIBS is an extremely exciting business to be in.”