Mumbai: For Prakash Mundhra, the handful of business plan competitions that came his way as a management student were indeed a blessing.
Selling branded puja (worship) kits was not his first idea. Or his second. But the B-plan showcases gave him both a platform for shaping up the idea over time and the initial capital to start, fresh out of college.
Convinced of the need for an organized player in the religious merchandise market, Mundhra began with the idea of a line of branded items such as camphor, changed it to a national retail chain for puja items, and finally zoomed in on making customized puja kits for festive occasions.
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“Working on the plans gave me a sense of the opportunity, and with each plan, my knowledge got deeper,” says Mundhra.
His company, Sacred Moments, wants to provide easy access to the array of items required for worshipping. For example, a Diwali kit contains items such as incense sticks, camphor, earthen lamps, kumkum and even a Shub Labh sticker for good luck.
Diwali remains its highest selling kit, and the company begins preparations in May for the winter festival to meet with the demand. Over the past two years, it has also expanded to seven other offerings, including Holi, Grihapravesh (when you shift into a new house) and Namaaz kits.
Corporate gifting accounts for a large part of the business. Around 70% of its revenue comes from selling to corporates and the rest from selling to retailers or exports to overseas distributors. Sacred Moments says it has not been affected by the slowdown so far. It sold 32,000 kits this year compared with 24,000 in 2007.
Mundhra takes religious sentiments seriously, and his obsession for detail differentiates the product in the market. A few months ago, he wanted to include little packets of ghee along with each lamp, but could not find it among his usual contacts. After a lot of online research, he tracked down a vendor in Tiruppur who made ghee packets to go into food parcels of south Indian hotels.
Mundhra sources non-perishable mini replicas of coconuts from craftsmen in Bihar, Ganga water from Hardwar and earthen lamps from Kolkata, as they are made from the best clay.
Going forward, the company plans to offer kits for Christmas and other festivals, and also expand exports. And it will begin the New Year with preparations for Holi.
Sacred Moments is one of the nominated companies at the Tata NEN Hottest Startups competition, of which Mint is the official print media partner. Details of the competition can also be accessed at www.livemint.com/hotteststartups