Our baseless fears can hold us back from incredible things. The quintessential question that drives our paranoia is the dreaded ‘What if?’. At a time when most kids his age were fancied by the latest corporate job, Saurav Modi jumped into Jute never land. Little did he know what was in store for him; he just held his breath and took the plunge.
Saurav in his growing years was starkly similar to the friends that I had when I was growing up and hence an easy connect to most of us reading this right now. He spells out for us the fears of not knowing what we want and how we can move past that.
The Two Kinds Of People
A strong foundation often helps firming up a dream. This foundation is less defined by the appropriate skill set, but more by the ability to give an idea a chance and the endurance to move past failure. The baby steps of this entrepreneur was set at Bishop Cottons Boys school in Bangalore. Saurav believes here is where his exposure to ideas, experiences and people began. In conversation he reveals the fear that most people struggle with at this stage – the fear of not knowing.
“There are two kinds of people we grow up with, the first kind knows exactly what they want in life and what they want to become; and the second kind, who struggle to discover; they never really know even in the process of doing it.” He describes himself to be the second sort, the class that struggled to find his “thing to do”. I connected here, like I’m sure most of you will; are you really doing what you love and does it make you happy?
Moving out of Cottons as an above average student, he walked into the gateway of Christ University, continuing to gain the right kind of exposure and learning everyday.
To Want To Be Tested
In University, Saurav experimented with the world of CA’s and MBA’s to soon discover it was mass market, and not his path to tread. His added comfort was that his father was running a business, which could serve as a backup. But this did not stop him from testing the waters and he believes that “you never really know unless you try”. In keeping with his sort, Saurav joined the band wagon and opted for the latest corporate job in town. He described it to be a lot of fun, and not too much work; something many of us wouldn’t really complain about. But Saurav soon discovered this was not for him, and it failed to keep him interested for too long.
One fine day, Saurav decided to call it quits; it was time to give the family business a shot. It was a tea distribution business, and involved bringing in tea from Assam. The job asked for a good amount of travel, and again something most of us would easily settle for. The innovator in Saurav believed this enterprise would not truly test him.
Jute It Up!
This is when Saurav came forth with his brain child – manufacturing Jute bags. This was a market that was in demand and eco-friendly. The suppliers in this industry were also a very small number, giving him the perfect start. But this decision meant his dads tea business would need to slowly die out, as it was an owner driven business and with no one to take over. But his steady confidence in himself and his dads absolute confidence in him, helped him brave it up to take the leap of faith.
Just Jute was thus born, starting in a garage that he would rent for Rs. 300. All they could afford was a meagre 2 hand machine and a part time tailor. When asked about how difficult it was for him to make this decision and if his family supported him, Saurav says he had the complete support he needed. Nikyta adds that his dad has always been exceedingly supportive and constantly says, “It’s ok to fail.” Adding to this Saurav believes, “It you are always guided, you never make your own mistakes, and hence you learn less.”
Thus the Just Jute journey started, with them making basic jute bags and approaching customers. The husband-wife combination of Saurav and Nikyta would come together to handle the manufacturing and design elements. With zero experience, they were self-taught. The learning he recollects, took time, patience and effort, and he believes, like most of us know, “nothing comes easy”.
When The Fire Burns Low
Every expedition comes with its own trials and so did Saurav’s. Saurav and Nikyta recollect that one of the tough times was during their wedding. Just Jute was hit by a labour strike and they had quite a few of their employees leave them. “You need to power along, keep the faith and even rebuild if necessary. The bad times do come, but they are always outweighed by the hard work and perseverance.” The couple also recollects the many sleepless nights and stressful days they had with their only mantra being to push forward.
All of it was built from scratch and Saurav believes that the mistakes he made taught him most. He chuckles, under his breath, “If I write down the mistakes I have made, it is a long list, and every day it is a new one. The mistakes continue even to this day!”
The Road Ahead
Just Jute is built on trust, and their biggest advertiser is the word of mouth of their customers. Saurav strongly believes is what they are today is because of their customers, and that the best way to build credibility is trust. They do so by giving quality the utmost importance thus developing loyalty and delivering excellence. Thanks to all his hardwork and Nikyta’s design touch, Just Jute now extends over 10,000 square feet and spins out bags for the biggest retail outlets in the industry. It’s highly probable that if you’ve shopped in any of the malls across the country, you have some of their products with you and you wouldn’t even know.
Despite being called “Just Jute”, they experiment with different fabrics, and are always willing to make to fit the needs of their customers. “The design skills that Nikyta brings to the table gives us an edge over the competitors.”, Saurav says.
Just Jute has also taken baby steps into the retail industry, by launching their brand; NYK. However, they still see the brightest future for themselves in the manufacturing industry and claim for their customer’s growth to be their biggest strength.
Summing up this very exciting journey, we still had to ask for a piece of advice for the audience. To this Saurav gave us his favourite punch line, “Too much analysis leads to paralysis! Every new experience is going to come with its set of negatives, but do not let the failure of an idea scare you. Once you believe in something, just go out there and do it. What will come of it will be the best experience or a lesson learnt.”