P Bhandari: Cash is king is my ‘Mantra’
Financial discipline paves the way to success
Pankaj Bhandari, MD and founder of Mantra Gold Coatings has done it all. Mantra is a retail brand into gold decor products. He was part of a family business, Smart Creations, that deals with gold architecture for temples. That experience taught him hard lessons on managing debt.
That was followed by a stint in ISB Hyderabad from 2011-12. Then he worked as a commercial officer for the marketing office in Grasim Industries. It was in 2014 that he launched Mantra Gold Coatings. The company broke even in 2016 and has started making profits in 2017. Now he is looking to scale up.
In a chat with Larry Bradley he talks about his journey so far:
The entrepreneurial bug:
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I realized, I am not cut out to take orders from others. The mere thought that we could create employment opportunities for several families was also a big incentive.
I always believed that one should invest in fundamentals, where the business is understood. I have had a good understanding of Indian handicrafts. It is a big market and is a big employer.
Getting out of debt:
Three years into our production for Smart Creations, we were losing money. We were borrowing to sustain the cash flow situation. In another three years that is around 2004, we started breakeven from operations. But there were old debts to be cleared, we took another six years to clear all of that. And that required a lot of financial discipline.
We created a system of reverse EMI to pay from our revenue receipts. It was a self-imposed EMI, every week. There were times, when it was difficult to arrange the EMI for our pay-outs. But we imposed a system where no tolerance was allowed. This financial discipline helped us get out of debt and helped me earn my gift. The gift I gave myself in 2010 was to study at ISB.
Cash is king:
Mantra as a business model, is an answer to a basic mistake we were making. In our Smart Creations business, our major revenue model was from temples. The cash flow was lump sum payments which were not regular. My accounts professor made me realize that for a growing organization, we need consistent cash flows.
This gave birth to the idea of Mantra. The idea was to move from temples to home temples and pooja rooms. We are touching 36,000 Pooja rooms, with their idols, lamps and decorations. We also offer to polishing, lacquering and gold plating services. This gives our business a constant cash flow. Currently having three showrooms and employ 12 people. We are aspiring to build a network of 60 own and franchisee showrooms.
We look forward to imparting and training more women because we believe the handicraft industry could be saved in India only if women earn, learn and take home the money. Empowering women is crucial. It will also help children grow. In lot of families fathers waste their money on alcohol and other vices.
True happiness, Bhandari believes comes from spiritualism.
What strategies had you used to get out of financial crisis while running your business? Do share your story.