While yoga guru Baba Ramdev is the face of Patanjali Ayurved, Acharya Balkrishna has been the silent force behind the home-grown toothpaste-to-noodles company. However, Balkrishna cannot be mistaken for a reticent and reluctant man-of-action. At BT MindRush, he had the answers to all the tough questions thrown at him.
Without the trappings of a business magnate or a management guru, Balkrishna was able to convincingly explain the thinking behind Patanjali. "Our business mantra is: solve the problems of people, and they will reward you with success," he said.
He admitted that Patanjali was not the outcome of meticulous planning. It happened because yoga guru Ramdev wanted to help farmers. Balkrishna narrated the story of how Baba Ramdev promised to buy amla (Indian gooseberry) from some farmers in Uttarakhand to prevent the cutting of its trees. They didn't know what to do with the truck-load of amla he bought from the farmers but discovered there was a government mill in Punjab that can extract its juice. So, they started packing and selling the juice at their ashrams. "Without doing any market study or consumer survey, we set out to extract amla juice and sell it. Thankfully people liked it, and that was how the foundation of Patanjali was laid," said Balkrishna.
He attributed the success of Patanjali also to their knowledge of ayurveda. "We may have lacked management and marketing skills but we had sufficient knowledge of ayurveda," he says. However, as they kept growing and started expanding, they needed both marketing and management skills, which he said they are gradually acquiring through recruitments. So, the days are not far behind when Patanjali might also recruit from top educational institutes like IITs and IIMs.
Balkrishna said people today look up to Patanjali for upholding swadeshi values. When asked why they manufacture noodles and jeans if it's so much about swadeshi, he said that their effort is to change these products to suit Indian sensibilities. "Our noodles are made of atta (wholewheat flour) and not maida (white wheat flour)," said Balkrishna.
Balkrishna said that they manufacture in-house to rule out any quality issues about their products. "There could have been some issues with products outsourced to third parties. We are trying to minimise the errors to less than 1 per cent," he assured the audience.