Hritesh Lohiya, based in Jodhpur, Rajasthan runs Priti International. The venture manufactures handbags from old gunny bags, cast off military tents, denim pants, etc. And the startup is also into producing furniture from waste tins, drums, old military jeeps, tractor parts, waste machine parts and lamps from old scooter- and bike-lights.
Sounds a little bit strange. But, the startup is now India’s largest exporter of the biggest exporter of waste handicraft products, and the only one in India to export to China. These products are exported to various countries like China, USA, European nations, and Australia.
While the journey may be magnificent but was never easy. Hritesh started off a textile chemical factory and then a stone cutting factory, manufactured and sold washing powder, began a stock market business, etc. And lost a huge amount of money experimenting.
Hritesh says that diving into garbage was not a business savvy idea and was the only option left. After losing money in all the business he tried, he could not afford to invest more. The only positive thing about all those failures was the garbage around his own factory. There were old gunny bags, drums of chemicals, various bits of plastic and so on.
He tried to resell them at a cheap price to have his bread and butter managed but no one would buy them. Who buys waste? Our of frustration and desperation, Hritesh started thinking about generating revenues from those waste materials. And Priti International came into existence in 2005.
The current revenues of the company are around $15 Million (USD) while the number of employees being 450. Hritesh manages over 1000 different varieties of products, all being manufactured using garbages and waste. Most of the members of the team are women, who earlier worked at construction sites.
However, Hritesh considers this as the beginning and expects the turnover to cross US$50 Million mark by the end of 2018.
Hritesh never took any loans or financial assistance from banks or investors. The core team has only two members, Hritesh and his wife Priti, the company is named after his wife. The hardest part of their journey was the lack of confidence, as a result of series of failures.
They even tried pitching their idea to a lot of investors. Unfortunately or fortunately no one took an interest. In serious need of money, the couple started selling off the jewelry to manage funds for seed funding the venture. He made samples, clicked pictures, upload them online and market the products to prospective customers. It took them 2 years to get the first order.
And those 2 years were the hardest part of their lives.
They have now a retail showroom in Ningbo, China for selling the products in retail. This is just a test showroom, but the response has been heartwarming. Now they are planning to open 12 more showrooms across China exclusively, for retail products.
They have customer bases in more than 36 countries and production facilities spread over 3 large factories.
“Ours is a purely design-based business. We have to think of each waste product we come across and design it to make a useful product out of it. It’s a very exciting job! Every day we find new waste products, and brainstorm new ways to turn them into something people would like to own.” says Hritesh.
Growing at an extraordinary rate of 25 per cent every year, Hritesh is in talks with companies like Flipkart and Pepperfry to collaborate. Let’s see what 2017 will be like for Priti International.