Kacang putih entrepreneur shares secret of success with KDU business school students
“My aim is to have a kacang putih business that is not so ‘kacang putih’ and not easy to be replicated!” said Surentran Somasundram, a successful 29-year-old entrepreneur, as he shared his real-life experience with 60 students studying Principles of Marketing and Marketing Management in the School of Business (SoB) at KDU University College.
Somasundram, who is CEO of his own company manufacturing kacang putih, a popular Indian snack well known to fellow Malaysians, took time off his busy schedule to divulge the secrets of his business success – that is none other than being humble, acquiring a willingness to learn, selecting a right mentor and analysing your competitors.
Sharing his engrossing real-life story, Somasundram said that he was diagnosed with Dyslexia as a young boy, but that didn’t stop him from earning some income as a teenage tuition teacher, raking in some RM4000 a month.
He graduated in chemical science from a local public university, and later declined an offer in pursuing a doctorate degree in Harvard University to take over his family business, which at that point of time was riddled with huge debts. He eventually not only bailed out, but turned over with its current worth of RM10 million.
As the story continued, it was clear that the ‘Kacang Putih Entrepreneur’ managed to stun his audience into awe-inspired admiration.
Today, by manufacturing 60 types of products using fully automated technology that is able to structure every aspect that clients demand, Somasundram turned the grind mill, that he took over from his father, around in 7 years – making revenue from zero to RM5 million a year, expanding from one to three production factories, from a workforce of 2 to now 35, producing kacang putih up to 500 tons a year for local and international market, with exports to more than 10 countries in Asia, Australia, Middle East as well as the United States.
With his kacang putih business flourishing, Somasundram also ventured into vertical farming and is heavily involved in strategic consultancy, financial planning as well as CSR works.
“Whenever I start something new, I will always form a team first. There is no ‘one-man show’, having a team will always keep me going, and by delegating responsibility to the team, that is where I manage to succeed,” he said.
On the point of being humble and keeping team spirit at work, KDU students’ jaw dropped as they heard Somasundram actually shared duty in cleaning up the toilet in his factory even up to today!
“This talk wasn’t like any other, it wasn’t formal but made a huge impact on me. Mr Somasundram managed to talk about the importance of respecting one another and to be humble. Whatever that was shared in the talk can’t be found in any textbook and to have been part of it was a real pleasure and delight,” said Adam Eizaaz Rashid Abd Rashid who is pursuing his Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Marketing.
“I strongly believe that this talk was very beneficial and inspiring because it really gave me a strong motivation and drive to work harder and focus on my goals,” Adam suggested and continued, “The talk gave me an entire new perspective in seeing things, and the lessons that I got from it really taught me that I have to improve on my character and strive to continuously challenge myself to be better.”
As for Batumalarao Munandi, also a Bachelor of Business student, a statement that Somasundram said really struck a chord and stuck to him – Be humble always, do not intend to get publicity until you have reached to a position where no one can surpass you, and he said, “I will implement those effective messages in my own life to reach my goals.”
Vgneswaran Muniandy, a student of the Bachelor of Accounting programme, echoed points made by his classmates: “Mr Somasundram is sharing his real stories in doing business, from the hardest part to the success point. This is very real to me, if compared to the theories I have learned in the classroom. He has actually motivated me to start a business in future.”
“In preparing KDU students to become driven and intuitive leaders in business world, the School of Business is always engaging industrial players from their respective field to walk into the campus. By giving industrial talk or having interactive session with the students, it is in a way providing current industry insights and enhancing our curricula and students’ learning process,” commented Associate Professor Dr Ng Mei-Leng, Head of the School of Business at KDU.
To find out how you can hit the ground running with KDU University College, log on to www.kdu.edu.my or call 03-5565 0538 (KDU University College, Utropolis, Glenmarie) / 03-7953 6688 (KDU College, Damansara Jaya).