Samir Shungloo, Founder, Shangi Foods
Founded in: 1996
What is Shangi Foods all about?
Shangi is a manufacturer, exporter, importer and supplier of Chinese sauces and pastes, ketchup, jams, Continental sauces and syrups.
You are an entrepreneur because...?
Because I always wanted to be one! Just after graduation, a friend and I worked for two years to set up a shoe manufacturing unit but that did not work out. So I started looking around for other ideas for my own business. I finally started with packaging, in 1986.
How did you hit upon the idea for Shangi?
Shangi Foods grew out of a personal interest in food, in 1996. We decided on Oriental food because we had a consultant who was already manufacturing the same products. We called in a very experienced person from the UK to further improve quality and expand our range. In 2006, due to space constraints, I decided to branch out into imports.
What kind of boss are you?
Ideally, I prefer to tell people what is expected of them and then leave them free to execute. But this usually backfires. I've realised that I need to monitor people more closely, even though that is against my nature.
What was your most critical moment when starting out?
Applying for a bank loan of Rs. 2 lakh with only Rs 10,000 of my own money. It was a small scale industry loan for Rs 1 lakh against machinery and Rs 1 lakh against working capital and no security. Despite repeated calls and visits, the bank ignored me and it was extremely frustrating. But I persevered. It took five months and a meeting with the GM but I finally got the loan - and the GM blasted the loan manager for his callousness.
Any crucial mistakes?
Handing over our sales team and retail marketing operations to a senior person who had no motivation and who paid our budding business no attention. As a result, we were dealing with bogus orders and, later, were saddled with returned goods. I lost money, market share and credibility. So I decided to look for an alternative line of business and visited Thailand and Singapore to look for buyers and suppliers of food products. I had a lot of responsibilities but nothing to fall back on. All I had was the thought that I could start afresh just as I had started from scratch earlier.
Your biggest finance mistake?
Not investing in property or any long-term assets when I had extra money. I kept ploughing my profits back into my company. This meant there was nothing to fall back on when I suffered setbacks.
Try not to surround yourself with fools.
Take your time to make decisions; but once you've decided, move quickly.
Most valuable lesson
Always seek the advice of the people you trust. After that, dig deep inside yourself, trust your own instincts and stand by your convictions.
Pet peeve about starting a business in India
Lack of basic infrastructure, no value for time, false commitments.
Biggest blessing for Indian entrepreneurs
In chaos lies profit
Samir Shungloo has more than 15 years' experience in the packaging industry. He discovered the entrepreneur in him during his graduation and took the plunge as soon as he earned his degree. He began by manufacturing crown caps at a time when there were only large-scale companies like L&T and Metal Box in the business.