Once worked for Rs 6 per day as a daily wage worker, now this farmer’s son builds a Rs 100 Cr valued company

With just Rs 1800, Davanagere-based farmer’s son, Praveena K, started Swadeshi Group is a solar success story that manufactures high-quality solar panels, water heating instruments (ASHP), and essential household items. Now, the company is valued at Rs 100 crore. 

36-year-old Praveena K narrated his rags-to-riches story in an exclusive conversation with Startup Pedia.

The early life

Praveena was born to a father working as a farmer to earn hand to mouth in a village, Devara Honnali, in Davanagere town, Karnataka. The village was so backward that there was no regular electricity and no school beyond 8th class. 

As the village had no better school, nobody ever attended the 10th class. Praveena was interested in his studies, so he enrolled in a school about 7 kilometres from his village. Poverty was so extreme in the village that no transport facilities were available. Praveena would walk 14 kilometres to attend his school. 

He was the first person to clear class 10th in his village, which was a significant milestone for his entire family and village. 

Earlier, neither Praveena nor his parents dreamed of pursuing any profession other than farming, but when Praveena passed class 10th, the family dreamed of a better life as farming was not yielding them sufficient money to survive. It was merely to fill the stomach. 

Praveena’s entire family would work as farm labourers to earn a living. “After school and on weekends, I would work on the farm field to earn Rs. 6 daily. Such was the life we had during my school time,” said Praveena while talking to Startup Pedia. 

However, Praveena’s father took a big risk and shifted to one of the slums in 

Davanagere town to provide him with a better education, thinking it would lead to a better life. Which eventually proved right. 

Beginning of a better life

Praveena completed 12th and graduation from a government college in Davanagere. During his education in Davanagere he took up a part-time job at a pharmacy store to earn some money for his survival. He would earn Rs. 600 per month as a salary. That was the start of his entrepreneurial journey although accidentally.

The corporate career of the founder of Swadeshi Group, Praveena K, began after his graduation from the famous food brand- Parle in 2006. Since then, he has spent 15 years working in renowned companies such as Coca‑Cola, Wipro and OYO. Since he was in the sales profession, sales have become his forte wherever he worked. 

Praveena with Satyajeet Prasad in Coke
Praveena with Satyajeet Prasad in Coke

Having worked with Satyajeet Prasad in Coke, Satyajeet believed in Praveena’s forte to manage a key role in OYO. He convinced Praveena to join a start up from an FMCG giant and that has played a key role in his career

While Praveena was working in OYO, owned by Ritesh Agarwal, he was thrilled by the rapid growth of start-up culture.  He was impressed and inspired by the self-made billionaire Ritesh Agarwal. At that time, Praveena was working in the Mysore OYO office.  

Praveena was doing much better in his career, but the coronavirus pandemic hit, and he also lost his job as millions of others did. Having a plethora of free time in hand, Praveena would watch Indian movies based on real-life entrepreneurs.  

While talking to Startup Pedia, Praveena K. said, “I would watch the movie like Guru (which is based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance Industries) and The Founder (based on the real story of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s)again and again. They started their entrepreneurial journey with almost no money. I was so inspired by their stories that I was determined to start my own business as soon as possible.

The Birth of Swadeshi Group

At the onset of 2020, Praveena made a tough decision and left his wife and only child at her parents’ place so that he could focus only on his business for two years. He started his renewable energy backed business called Swadeshi Group in Mysore. He did not have much money to invest. He used his Rs 1800 for company registration and then began selling solar water heaters across tier 2-3 cities in Karnataka.  

Praveena with his wife Chinmayee and two children
Praveena with his wife Chinmayee and two children

Praveena wouldn’t have done this without the support of his wife Chinmayee. She has been the pillar of Praveena throughout the tough phases. She is one of the co-founders of Swadeshi Group and the reason behind the companies solar success story.

Initially, he would buy solar water heaters on credit and pay his manufacturer after selling them. While he was selling solar water heaters, many customers would inquire about other home appliances such as water purifiers, etc.  

Praveena shared a business plan, assured his manufacturer of good business, and asked for some funding. As luck would have it, Praveena received Rs 10 lakh that he used to set up a showroom where various solar-powered products such as solar water heaters, inverters, batteries, water purifiers, automatic water level controllers, air heat pumps and many more were showcased. 

Team behind solar success story
Product launch ceremony – Team pic

Swadeshi Group : One Stop Hub Model Across B2B and B2C channels

Praveena’s dedication and perseverance helped him make his business a huge success. In two years, Swadeshi Group’s products increased to 78 SKUs. He launched his first franchise in the first year, which was 2020. Since then, Swadeshi Group has opened 15 showrooms across Karnataka, four  company-owned and the rest franchisees.

First franchise launch
First franchise launch

Earlier, Swadeshi Group would buy solar-powered products from manufacturers; now, they manufacture 42% of the product portfolio, which contributes 85% of its annual revenue. 

The company deals in both B2B and B2C. The showroom business is in the B2C segment, which, according to the Swadeshi Group founder Praveena, contributes 25-30% of overall business.

Swadeshi Group is Disrupting the renewable energy sector for a sustainable and reliable future.

They also install all the solar-based appliances and hot water solutions across PGs, Hostels, Petrol pumps, Schools, Colleges, Villas, Apartments and hospitals, which is Swadeshi Group’s B2B model. 

Swadeshi Group Product Portfolio
Swadeshi Group Product Portfolio

Ever since Praveena started his own business, he has been working long hours. He works for 15-18 hours regularly. He wakes up at 4:30 in the morning and walks for about 10 kilometres. Being a spiritual person, he performs puja after his morning walk and then heads to the office. He ends his day late, around 11 pm and sometimes 1 am. 

Morning walk is very important for me. That is when I plan my entire day in my mind. I can’t perform better on the days if I don’t do my morning walk,” said Praveena. 

Swadeshi Group Financials

Talking about the financial growth of the Swadeshi Group, Praveena said that in FY21, it clocked Rs. 3.72 crores in revenue. In FY22, the revenue was Rs 5.89 crore, and in FY23, the revenue grew to Rs 8.7 crore. Guess what, Swadeshi Group is EBITDA positive. 

With a valuation of Rs 100 crore, Swadeshi Group is targeting Rs 15 crore in revenue in the current fiscal year 2023-24.

Apart from making the company grow exponentially, the founder of Swadeshi Group Praveena plans to generate 10,000 employment before 2027 which he believes is his major goal. 

“Poverty is not a weakness. Poverty is a strength,” Praveena signed off with this power statement. 

FAQ

1. What is Swadeshi Group’s product range and business model?

Swadeshi Group manufactures solar panels, water heating instruments, and household items. They offer a diverse product portfolio, including solar water heaters, inverters, batteries, water purifiers, and air heat pumps making them solar success story. The company operates in both B2B and B2C segments, with showrooms contributing 25-30% to overall business.

2. What is the valuation of  Swadeshi Group?

Swadeshi Group witnessed significant financial growth, with revenues reaching Rs. 8.7 crore in FY23, making it EBITDA positive. The company, valued at Rs 100 crore, aims for a revenue target of Rs 15 crore in the fiscal year 2023-24.

3. Who is the founder of Swadeshi Group?

The founder of Swadeshi Group is Praveena K, a farmer’s son from Davanagere, Karnataka, who started the company with just Rs 1800 and has grown it into a valued enterprise worth Rs 100 crore.

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