With nothing in hand – money, experience or contacts – but a passion to do great things, 17 year-old Prem Ganapathy of Tuticorin (village in Tamil Nadu) took a journey to a very unfamiliar Bandra (Mumbai) in 1990, leaving his family behind uninformed.
Ganapathy stepped into the new city with a luring offer from an acquaintance, who showed up only to rob him off the only Rs 200 he had and left him stranded on the Bandra station. The unfamiliar dialect left the teenager clueless, and pennilessness shut the exit. Gathering his courage, Ganapathy took the bold step to stay on and try his luck.
“A class X passout with no particular skill set, I was lured to Mumbai, only to be robbed. It was an inauspicious start to my entrepreneurial journey, but it turned out for the best,” says Ganapathy.
Battering own food business
Ganapathy started-off with a dish-washing job at a local bakery at Mahim for a salary of Rs 150 a month. In the next two years, he picked up odd jobs at various restaurants and tried to save as much as possible.
Having saved enough by 1992, Ganapathy set up his own food business with an outlet serving south-Indian cuisine alongside a street in Navi Mumbai. Later, the same he was joined by his two younger brothers and soon the business was booming with a net profit of around Rs 20,000 per month.
“However, it wasn’t smooth sailing. We faced the risk of the cart being seized by the municipal authorities as handcart foodstalls do not get licences to ply their trade. In fact, our cart was seized several times and I had to pay a fine to have it released. Thankfully, the harassment ended when we saved enough to open a restaurant,” says Ganapathy.
Today’s Special – International Dosa to your taste
Getting familiar with the new-age internet era, Ganapthy soon began to experiment with dosas by surfing recipes from across the world and rolled-out offerings such as the schezwan dosa, paneer chilly, and spring roll dosa. Within a year, he had introduced 26 innovative dosas and by 2005, the outlet’s popularity caught fire with more than 105 dosa varieties.
New franchisees, Dr. D and patent for my Dosa, please!
Soon with the popularity of the brothers, people began approaching them with franchise requests and so the Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza opened its first franchise as ‘Dosa Plaza’ at Wonder Mall in Thane in 2003 with well furnished, well-polished Express model outlet with an International look and one-of-its-kind recipes.
“My luck turned the day Centre One mall decided to open up in our vicinity. Its management team and staffers had often dined at our restaurant and enjoyed our fare. They suggested that we set up an outlet in the mall and we happily complied. This was followed by franchise requests. We agreed, with the stipulation that we would supply the dosa batter and other ingredients,” says Ganapathy.
With the new franchising came a brand new logo – Dr. D! With the new beginning, Dosa Plaza also got its recipe patented.
Patented Dosa with no boundaries
In 2007, Dosa Plaza speared into the international market having achieved a great success through its various outlets in India.
By 2012 Dosa Plaza was operating 45 outlets in India and 7 international outlets in 3 countries (UAE, Oman & New Zealand). Since then the company’s strategy has been to grow profitably by making each store self sustainable. The company will expand through franchise model in addition to opening its own stores.
“The business I started with a seed capital of Rs 1,000 grew into a Rs 30 crore company and we are aiming for a much higher revenue in the years to come,” concludes Ganapathy.