(Photo © SBS Biotech)

Earlier this year, Sanjeev Juneja, MD of SBS Biotech, made headlines for having sold his Kesh King brand of hair and scalp products to Emami Ltd for a whopping Rs 1,651 crore. The brand was only 6 years old and sold at 5.5 times its value. Rutaksha Rawat had a talk with Juneja. . .

People are amazed that Kesh King was sold at 5.5 times its sales value at Rs 1,651 crore. Please explain how this was achieved.

Sanjeev Juneja: There were over 5 bidders for our hair care business but we ultimately went with Emami. We felt the value of Rs 1,651 crore was fair in view of the future prospects of the herbal hair care market, as well as, the present position of the business.

How did Kesh King grow to be so huge despite being only 6 years old?

Sanjeev Juneja: Judicious formulation, quality production, meticulous media planning, consistent efforts to address the queries of prospective buyers, maintaining a seamless supply chain and, of course, the dedication of our human resource has contributed to our success.

It is only now that Kesh King is available online. Was it a conscious decision to stay away from e-commerce and apps for sale?

Sanjeev Juneja: Online stores tend to have very restrictive terms of business in India at this point of time. Moreover, we had positioned Kesh King as an Ayurvedic medicinal oil, so we had to sell a concept first. In concept marketing, I feel, print media is the best—the written words are more effective since the consumer can read and re-read them. As for electronic media, the limit of time reduces it to only recall value (if at all).

How did you create wonderful products at low cost during the initial years?

Sanjeev Juneja: Pure herbs are a very rare commodity and are quite expensive due to the fact that they are cultivated in select geographies and also, are seasonal. The trick lies in identifying the right vendors and developing them and also maintaining inventories that are commensurate with production requirements at all times.

Please give 3 tips to budding businessmen in the Ayurveda segment.

Sanjeev Juneja: The procurement of original and organic herbs is a tricky business. My advice to aspiring businessmen in Ayurvedic production is to first develop a reliable vendor chain for authentic raw materials, appoint adequately qualified and experienced professionals, who are conversant with the complex manufacturing protocols of Ayurvedic medicine and never compromise with the quality of your product. Further, one has to ascertain the perfect combination of consumer pull and trade push before rushing into the Ayurveda segment.

What is the future of Ayurveda in India and overseas?

Sanjeev Juneja: Ayurvedic medicine and cosmetics have a great future in India. Print media and electronic media, and digital media are replete with the ill effects of allopathic and other synthetically prepared medicines and cosmetics. People are constantly being educated on this subject and are switching over to herbal remedies all the time.

Tell us about your childhood and working on Ayurveda with your father.

Sanjeev Juneja: I was a very reticent and shy child, immensely attached to my father, Dr I K Juneja, who was a Graduate of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (GAMS) doctor and was deeply involved in developing innovative Ayurvedic formulations. My interest was evolved by helping him in small jobs and by spending time with him.

In the initial years, did you ever think of quitting during a tough phase?

Sanjeev Juneja: Never! I never thought of quitting in the face of tough situations or adverse circumstances. Life is not a bed of roses, you are bound to face obstacles here and there but one has to be consistent, persistent and honest to the purpose of your aim.

What next for SBS?

Sanjeev Juneja: We are in the process of identifying a few more products, which have great scope in India, as well as, the overseas market.

This Interview appeared in the October 2015 issue of Pure & Eco India

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