Even as a boy, Snehdeep Aggarwal — founder, CEO and chairman of the Bhartiya Group — knew he had the entrepreneurial spirit. “I borrowed AU$100 from my father and I started a business because I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he says.
“At that time, it was just to prove to myself that I could make it happen but of course I needed to find something I really wanted to do. Whether I work for myself or not, I am quite entrepreneurial in my genes, so I said, ‘Okay, I will start a business,’ and with that little seed capital I started a company making hand-knotted carpets.”
The business was doing well, but after eight years Snehdeep felt that he had hit an impasse. “We reached a level where we were quite large and there was no place to grow,” he says. “It was a very traditional cottage industry, it was all done by hand and so it took so long to make just one carpet on the loom — anywhere from two months to one year. Plus, the overall size of the business was limited in India. At that time, 99 per cent of the business revolved around exporting, because the carpet market in India was very small. I understood international sales and marketing very well and I used to travel quite a bit, so we were looking for a new line as a platform, which had more exports in the world market.”
Snehdeep then hired a young girl who would change the business forever. Unable to expand the carpet business locally, she suggested that it look into manufacturing leather clothing.
Snehdeep knew that it would be hard to compete with the huge factories in China that had been set up by Taiwanese and Korean business people. “I always thought that you should not compete in the market; you should always create a business model that is very distinct to you and shows that you can create extra value in a business,” he says.