At the age of 76, the founder of the company, M P Ramachandran is still very active in his business and according to Kamath, it is the employees of the organisation who keep him that way. “Keeping the person who started the business active is very critical for a continuous success of the business.” Almost 1.2 million bottles of the company’s flagship brand, fabric whitener Ujala, is sold on a daily basis, and it reaches almost 60 per cent of Indian households. “We have about 75 per cent of the market share in this category with the nearest competitor holding a 3 per cent market share. Our belief is that we should be number one in the market and there is no place for number two,” says Kamath. Its other brands include Maxo mosquito repellent and EXO dishwash bar. From a proprietary concern, Jyothy became a private limited company and eventually in the year 2000, Kamath raised private equity from players like Baring India Investments, CDC Advisors and so on and then took the company public. In the midst, Kamath asks the audience, if entrepreneurs raise money because they need it. “Most of the people will say yes but I will say no,” he states. He explains, “You raise money when you don’t need it. When you want it you will never get it.” He also believes that an investor’s brand becomes a part of the invested company’s brand. “PE fund is the best equity, they bring in money, talent and ask you questions that are difficult to answer which helps you grow. When they invest for a 10 per cent stake in your company, they cannot multiply four times unless they multiply your value by the same. When we went public they got five times returns,” shares Kamath. The company’s second brand – Maxo – came to life with this Rs. 35 crore. “Ujala was like an ATM for us. And we didn’t want to put Ujala money into Maxo. We wanted to raise risk capital,” says Kamath. Today, Maxo has grown to become a Rs. 300 crore brand. The company today covers a million retail outlets on a monthly basis. “After the Indian post office, the best direct reach is by Jyothy Labs,” says a proud Kamath. Around 1,200 company staff walk nearly 6 kilometres a day and as a result its direct coverage is one of the best in the country. The company has 34 factories across the country and one in Bangladesh. It acquired Henkel in 2011 and in 2014, it re-launched most in-house brands.
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