Nov 4, 2018

Expansion Strategy : THE EVOLUTION OF S R GOPAL RAO & THE WAY FORWARD

0 comments

Edited: Nov 5, 2018

 

S R Gopal Rao Opticians & Optometrists is the pioneer optician in Bengaluru. It was established by my ancestors in the late 1800’s under the name of Narayenrao. The business was then handed over to S N Rama Rao (Narayenrao’s son) after which it got rebranded in 1936, under the name of S R Gopal Rao Opticians. S R Gopal Rao was the son of S N Rama Rao. Each generation brought with it changes and improvements to the business, which helped it grow to become the trusted brand that it is today. Narayenrao and S N Rama Rao were both watchmakers and opticians. S R Gopal Rao on the other hand sold off the watchmaking division and focused the business on the optical sector only. S N Rama Rao was the sole optician to erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore and we continue to remain the opticians to the present Maharaja of Mysore and his family.

Years after it was rebranded to S R Gopal Rao Opticians (SRGR), the business was inherited by my grandmother followed by my father, thus making me the 6th generation to take the business forward. A long line of ambitious entrepreneurs, loyal customers and a great team is what makes SRGR the brand that it is today. It managed to live through several changes that took place in the industry : the explosion of optical centres at every nook and corner of the city, the organised sector that came through in the form of large format retail chains, a city with ever changing residents and now it see the era of heavy discounts and ecommerce. Every change was take upon as a challenge to review and strategise.

As a part of the industry that is saturated with competitors, intimidated by online reviewers, controlled by large multinational suppliers, exposed to technology and vulnerable to frequent changes, I decided to focus on our core strength, which is customer service rather than quick compromised expansion. To do so the first step would be build a team of efficient, caring opticians and the next was to highlight the rich heritage of SRGR. Trust is a very important factor and it comes with experience, we have over 100 years of it.

Alternately, I decided to invest in technology to help with the operations, customer serviceability and growth of the business. We recently implemented SAP for our inventory management and customer management segment, making it efficient for us to locate each SKU, specific brand models and customer records. What I rely upon more are the reports and other metrics that the software generates, which will help us optimize purchases. We have also invested in technology that will help us showcase 5000 SKU’s available across our 3 stores, in any given store location, virtually. Both projects will be completely in place within the next 3 months. Further more, we have set up an ecommerce brand called Getspexy that focuses on selling customised eyewear accessories for either gifting purposes or own use.

The future looks very interesting in this space. My intention is to grow the brand so that it sees’ another century. To do so, it is important for me to keep a ear to the ground, an eye on competition and industry changes and invest in innovation. I do have plans to get more creative in the near future. The way forward is to set the brand apart from the rest in ways that only a few can replicate, while always keeping the customer and team at the helm of affairs.

 

 

Written by : Meghana Manay,

Manager- Marketing & Expansions, S R Gopal Rao Opticians & Optometrists

Photo credits : Saina Jayapal

New Posts
  • A story of Venturing into a work which one enjoys Dinesh, a hard core Engineer from IIT-Kharagpur in chemicals and diploma in IT and then turned to entrepreneur in Travel sector. How the idea of getting rid of routine job and getting in to a tourism sector worked for him…! Dinesh born in a middle class family in WB (Hawrah). As any other middle class family, the focus was always on studies so did well in schooling, and started studying in Ram Krishna Mission schools, further Studied and got in to IIT-Kharagpur in Chemical engineering and completed his engineering. After IIT, first job was in SAIL Raurkela as chemical engineer and after two years, he felt the wave of IT in industry and he felt to get in to IT field, this made him to go back to IIT – Kharagpur to do one year diploma in IT. Changed the career from Chemical engineer to IT professional and landed to silicon valley of India ; Bangalore and Joined WIPRO as his first job in IT. Then the journey continued for some years like any other software engineer, he also kept changing jobs every alternate years to go up in the ladder. He worked with Macmet India limited. Where they used to build flight simulators for Indian air-force pilots. One of the proud achievement was to build India’s first indigenous flight simulator for Russian AN32 which was deployed in Yehalanka airbase . He was the part of that team. Then kept on moving from flight simulation to telecom sector and worked with Susken for short term and then Kyocera. Stayed for almost 8 years in Kyocera. During this tenure also got lot of overseas opportunity like travel to US and Japan. During his long stint in Kyocera he came closure to the Japanese culture. The first turning point came here in his life, where he loved the company, loved his work and wanted to be there for entire rest of the career. When he was settling down and wanted to retire from this company suddenly the great recession of 2009 appeared and one fine morning the decision by company was announced that the division with whom he associated was acquired by Mind-tree in India. The Mind-tree wanted to venture in telecom and acquired this company. The coalition didn’t go well and within one year Mind-tree decided to close down the acquired division. The life was little mess and back at cross road for Dinesh. Most of his colleagues left mind-tree and joined other telecom companies like INTEL, CISCO etc. But he chose to stick to mind-tree for some more years. At the same time tried to further build his competencies and went back to school. He did his one year EGMP from IIMB to further polish his entrepreneurial skills and same time Mind-tree got the contract to build the Aadhar project for GOI. Dinesh was part of this project team and got the opportunity to work with world’s largest software project and event. After completing EGMP the thoughts started in mind to do something independent. Finally one day he quite the job of Mind-tree. He took some baby steps of learning sales and marketing when he partnered with one Pre-school chain and help them setting up the units across India. Than he joined a team of start-up of educational team for building an e-learning platform called ENTUZE. Prepared the contents for Commerce students for exams for professional courses like CA/CS etc. Launched the product in south Indian cities. At the same time the thought to venture something own independently was kept wandering in his head and wanted to do something which he enjoys. From childhood he travelled across India with his parents and later during overseas assignments he used to travel across different countries. He has been always thinking whether he can do something in travel space. During this time one of his trip gave him this conviction to move out of comfort zone and pursue something which he enjoyed to do. During this phase of his venture his wife got a research assignment in Taiwan sponsored by Government of Taiwan. While he was in India with kids, taking care of family, Dinesh’s wife was in Taiwan. During summer vacations she insisted the family to visit the Taiwan for vacation but he was skeptical and little reluctant knowing that Taiwan is only famous for semi-conductors and nothing much to offer beyond. So he insisted to his wife as whether they can go for summer vacation at any other place instead. But finally they agreed to visit Taiwan. Even getting the Taiwan tourist VISA was a nightmare for them, in-spite of the fact that his wife was working there. Finally they got the VISA 24 hrs before the flight time. The next two weeks as it unfolded completely changed his perspective about Taiwan. They travelled across the Island and discovered that almost every weather possible on earth was available on that tiny island. It has lot to offer like, long white sand bitches, Deep forests, snow-clad mountains, some of the world’s best hiking routes and what not. Initially, he thought Taiwanese cuisine is just like Chinese but it came out as one of the best cuisine experience in life. Contrary to his previous understanding that Taiwan is in major a non-vegetarian cuisine, he was shocked to know that more than 60% of population was Vegetarian and don’t even use onion and Garlic in their food. That was the realization that when such a small island of 400KM of length and 150 km of breadth can offer such a spectacular and wide verity of nature than definitely there are many such place on earth which can be explored and open to the people for exploration. And that was the point triggered to him that he can do something bigger in travel space to unfold such unexplored places in world. Without having any experience in travel or tourism sector he started a company called “Three Friends Travels International” in late 2016. The idea was to give unique experiences to people by either to let them discover a new culture, or people, or places with different history. He promotes the off-beat locations in India and abroad. His start-up offers locations like North-east, interior places of Assam and Meghalaya and abroad countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Turkey, CIS countries etc. They offer very rich travel experience, but less explored and also bringing some uniqueness to travel to Europe trips. He is working on this venture now since 03 years and catered more than 100 tours and few hundred to travelers making their experience unique, while they wish to travel across the world. Having the vision to build and grow the company in such a way that it will be remembered by the travelers for the unique experiences they get from each trip that make through Three friends travel. He want to explore lot of places himself and also help happy travelers to explore in the journey. The proof of concept is done and now having a good nos of satisfied customers. The efforts are to make a global presence of the venture called Three Friends Travels International. Courtesy : Dinesh : Three friends travels International. dinesh@threefriendstravels.com www.threefriendstravels.com www.facebook.com/threefriendstravels
  • Post finishing my studies, I been to USA for my higher studies. The dream of establishing my own start-up began while working for a start-up in USA during the PhD studies. After working for few years at MNCs in Bengaluru as a Scientist and a Manager, I considered myself to be ready for the start-up, and financially not so ready. The exploration of start-up ideas began and I started looking in to merits of ideas based on personal and professional experience, limited financial resources (which is a struggle for all the start-ups in beginning) and effectuation principles which learned from Prof. Saras. After lot of exploration, zeroed down to three ideas. The toss-up was now between the Ed-tech Vs Water Tech Vs Food Tech startup. Each of the idea had its own merit and advantage to pursue further. Ed-tech start up seemed like a low hanging fruit with my teaching experience and connects in education institutions. Somehow something to change in the society was in heart. The quality of water had bothered me a lot when I was new (still does) to Bengaluru. Spent a lot of time searching for solutions to hard water, and hence the Water Tech startup for solving water quality problems was one of the thrust area for me to take it forward. The other concern towards society was regarding the food quality. The food adulteration is a major concern in society today. Milk and curd consumption had resulted in several food poisoning experiences which led to the checking the quality of milk and learnt the new concept of ‘Food Adulteration’. In another instance, packaged green peas had to be discarded after it released strong green color after a third water wash. A normal person do not know as how to check the quality of various food products. The laboratory solutions are the only solutions, but out of a common man’s rich. I wanted to enable a common man in society especially the home-makers with an easy and affordable solution to check the quality of food which they consume on day to day, which became the food tech startup idea.. While doing a survey for the three ideas, Food Tech got the best response of the three ideas. This idea was backed by Goldman-Sachs, NSRCEL and received financial support from Govt of Karnataka to develop products to detect and verify the purity of Foods. Thus ‘VERIPURE’ was born! VERIPURE is an innovative product development and solutions company in chemical and biotech industry. We are passionate about science and technology and are building products to make this world a healthier place. We have developed a range of testing kits for various food items. Our product range currently includes testing kit for Chilli testing, Milk testing, Turmeric testing and etc. food products. It is enabling the home makers to check the quality of food before they serve to their beloved in family every day. The revolution of quality food in society has just begun and we hope to develop & launch more and more enabling solution in coming days and enable the common man and a home maker to do self-checking of food quality and ensure quality food for families. You may visit our website : http://veripurelabs.com/shop/ Smitha. Founder : VERIPURE LABS
  • Written by : Deepika Khare [IIM-B ; PGPEMer] Fifty thousand spent on shopping at Uniqlo Harbour City, Hong Kong. Twenty-five thousand in one hour at Bali. Thirty-eight thousand in two hours at Ikea Causeway Bay, Hong-Kong, Without worrying about the excess baggage or the credit card bill, the shopping goes on and on and on. But don’t worry, this is not a maniac going about shopping. Most of this shopping is done for friends and family, just to see their reactions when they see what is shopped for them. I love gifting my family and friends, with or without any occasion. And foreign trips definitely mean coming back with gifts for everyone. It gives me immense pleasure to shop for them. The entire process of buying things is thoroughly enjoyed by me; thinking what will suit them or what will be liked by them, browsing different categories, their preferences etc. Not only do I like shopping abroad for people but I do it for my colleagues and college friends as well, especially from flea markets. My academic background as a NIFTian helps people believe in me as their shopper. I somehow believe in the British Journalist, Katherine Whitehorn’s statement; “Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it” � � Especially when you do not have a job in hand 🙈. This statement intrigued me so much that I got a wild business idea to become a personal shopper. In a city like Bangalore, the city of traffic, where most working people can only find time on a Sunday to go shopping amidst the long parking queues in the malls and outside trial rooms, this seemed as a good idea. I decided to test this idea as a project with NSRCEL, Bangalore and voila the word was spread among our batchmates. The next part was to think of a name and we did some crowd sourcing to come up with a simple name with no hidden meanings, I SHOP 4 U. Soon I started getting flooded with orders; “please buy me 4-5 work casual tops”, “I can’t go out to buy a gift for my hubby with the baby today, I urgently need a customized mug with my baby’s photo on it”, “I am travelling to Switzerland but I’ve always worn Indian clothes, how do I shop for some decent western winter clothing?”. I also had a query for “can you please buy me booze for a party at my place, I will be late in reaching home from work so if you can help me?” This query, though funny, made me realise I need to define the categories that I Shop 4 U will be catering to; Apparel, Home, Accessories and Personal Care. The visiting cards were distributed generously, Facebook page created and shared and WhatsApp messages were shared in various communities. The order processing went fine up to 10-15 orders, after which I realized that service charges against these orders weren’t justifying the amount of time and energy being spent per order. Even though I was enjoying all the shopping but it wasn’t a financially viable model. This led to some rethinking of the business model in the direction of a bulk order instead of an order size of 4-5 units. This came to my mind when I had received one or two orders for some home revamping. This, I thought, would justify the service charges for the services rendered and would also provide the required amount of expertise and focus per order. Similarly, we would be more than willing to take up other bulk orders like wedding trousseau shopping for a bride/groom, wardrobe changeover etc. There’s a lot more, but in a nutshell, I felt it’s a constant learning process and no business model can be fixed as the final model for the business and something or the other keeps getting added or removed to change it from time to time. As an entrepreneur my job is to just be at it and keep trying. As they say, we will surely learn from our mistakes and keep correcting them on the way. Photo Courtesy : Deepika Khare