Three generations of a family play an active role in this incense business

Three generations of a family play an active role in this incense business

SME Inspirations

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

20 Jan 2017, 09:19 — 9 min read

It is rare that a business grows and succeeds across generations. For a family business to be successful, it must meet two challenges head on: achieving strong business growth and performance and keeping the family committed to the founding spirit of the venture. From a humble beginning in Indore where the business was established fifty years ago by the first generation, the family-run company, Mysore Deep Perfumery House, is now helmed by the third generation and has a nationwide and indeed international presence in its sector.


Ankit Agrawal and Anshul Agrawal, are directors of Mysore Deep Perfumery House, parent company of one of the largest incense brands in India, Zed Black. Through their philosophy of being honest in all practices, and ensuring the delight and wellbeing of their distributors, employees, suppliers, they aim to grow their business to a point where they believe they could be the largest company in India in the sector in the next five years. This core philosophy is inherited from their father and his father before him.


Originally, Ankit and Anshul’s grandfather made candles and their father branched off towards establishing his own incense business in 1992. Ankit and Anshul have many memories of coming home from school and being involved in the packaging of incense sticks in the garage. Today, the company has nearly a thousand employees and is one of the top five players in the incense market making all kinds of other products for prayer-related activities. But still, its abiding strength remains that it is a tight knit family enterprise. Interestingly, Ankit and Anshul’s grandmother and mother, in addition to their father, are involved in the daily running of the company.


In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Ankit Agrawal (Ankit) and Anshul Agrawal (Anshul) share their business journey, challenges they face and their vision for the future. Watch this video to know more about their business journey. 



GL: Tell us about your business.


Ankit: This business was started in 1992 by my father. We manufacture, sell domestically and export incense sticks and allied puja products. We are famous throughout India with our Zed Black brand. Mysore Deep Perfumery House (MDPH) as a group has 29 offices across India. We have about 2000 distributors and about 1200 products. We have a workforce of nearly a 1000 people and we export to more than 10 countries.


I am a third generation entrepreneur. My grandfather started a candles business in 1970. My father and his brothers along with my grandparents started selling incense sticks. In 1991, my father decided to start his own incense company and end the practice of us selling other people’s products. That is how the company was born.


We supply incense to the whole country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Guwahati. But the Hindi speaking heartland is our main market. Some of the states where we do a significant amount of business are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Apart from that we sell to Walmart and Reliance and export to ten countries.


Ours is basically a family-run business. In addition to me, my brother and my father, our grandmother and mother are also involved. Our grandmother comes every Saturday to speak to our workers and address their problems. Our workforce is primarily comprised of women they find it easier speaking to our garndmother. My mother helps with the making of the perfumes, a crucial aspect of our business.


When we were young, we used to pack incense after coming from school. We always say that my brother and I are the second and third babies of our father and the incense business is his first child.


GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?


Ankit: There are a lot of challenges we face on a day to day basis. When we talk about business the major challenge is the workers. Getting workers is difficult. Incense is a labour intensive industry. It is also a very easy industry to get into. There are no barriers to entry. A thousand, two thousand rupee investment can make a customer a competitor. So competition is high.


Like all other family businesses we face the problem of a generation gap. Our father has a different vision while my brother and I have a different, newer way of seeing things. Finding solutions everyday to problems posed by the generation gap is a constant challenge.


GL: What is the USP of your business?


Ankit: There are a lot of things which have to come together to make a business successful. Working at MDPH for the last 12 years, I have learned that you need principles to be successful.

One of the principles we uphold is to not put any divine image onto our products. It is easy to sell incense with picture of Gods on it but we don’t do it. Principles like that govern our business.


A vision for the business is important. We should know where we want to be in ten or twelve years. We should have a clear idea.


Third is passion. Day and night we should be able to think about our business.


Fourth is focus. We must be able to have the focus to realise the vision.


The fifth principle is time. Time is more important than money. If time is valued more than money we can achieve success in our life and work.


At MDPH we value these five principles and they contribute to our success.


In addition to this, we always believe in paying our suppliers on time. Honesty is a basic tenet we follow. We pay your workers on time. What we promise our customers, we deliver.


Anshul: The philosophy of this business is making everyone associated with this business better. The USP of this business is delighting everyone associated with this business be it the distributors, employees or suppliers. When it comes to our distributors, we give them the most number of products at the best possible price for the quality that we provide. When it comes to our suppliers, we are always there with volumes. With our employees, we make them feel like family.


GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?


Ankit: The biggest achievement we had is that given that the incense industry is ruled by companies in Bangalore. Now we are among the top 5 brands of incense in India. Our brand is recognised all over the world in addition to being recognised in India. The main brand Zed Black in 2001 got recognised as one of the top 25 fragrances of India.


Anshul: Involving our whole family in this business is a major achievement. Everyone from my grandmother down to my brother and I is regularly working towards the business. 70% of our employees are unskilled female workers. We are proud to be providing work to a segment who would otherwise not have employment.


Zed Black is one of the top brands of incense sticks in India. On a daily basis we process more than 1.5 crore incense sticks. More than 15 lakh retail packets are being sold in India. The sheer scale of the business and the fact that we’re touching the lives of so many people every day is a testament to the success of this business.


GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?


Ankit: As the name suggests, GlobalLinker links you globally. Three important aspects of any business are innovation, networking and travel. GlobalLinker helps with all three. The amount of affiliations and the database they possess you can really go far when it comes to networking. With respect to innovation, we can meet new people who are experts in their field. Their affiliation and knowledge can be of great use.


GL: What is your big business dream?


Ankit: We want to be number one in our industry in the next five years.


GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?


Ankit: I am still an aspiring entrepreneur. Always work hard. Always have a dream. Believe in yourself. Every dream is meant to be achieved. Being on time, being honest to yourself are the ways you can stay true to yourself and your nation. Have a vision and make a roadmap to it and be firm towards achieving it.


No matter how big you become, you should have your feet firmly on the ground. No matter where you come from and where you go, remaining rooted is extremely important.


Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.


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