Sattvii — A Small Business Success Story in Germany
Don’t wait for new ideas to come, work on the ones you already have.
The ratio of people who spin-off into a self-owned business to those who dream about doing it is notably tiny. The first and the most important question that stops one from getting off the floor is clearly — “What should I do?”.
In fact, as long as you are willing to “Do something about it”, says Viswatez Repakula, a self-made entrepreneur, you don’t have to look far to generate money by making the world a little more perfect.
Here the story of Viswatez, an Indian immigrant from Anantapuram, Andhra Pradesh to Stuttgart, Germany, and a Project Manager from Porsche AG who spun his little boy’s accident into a successful business of sustainable lunch boxes.
“That was a day I cannot forget. My 18-month old son needed surgery due to a major accident in his playschool. My wife was in pieces. I was trembling”.
That was when Ramya decided she would find a livelihood that will let her be there for her family, day or night. “I will only work where I can give my son the time he needs and deserves”.
It was clear to Tez and Ramya that they had to kick start their next adventure. If there was no place where they could give their little one all their attention while also preparing for his future, they were going to make one themselves.
The couple spent a year researching businesses that will get them their freedom while also permitting them to lead their lives regardless of their location.
Being a first-generation immigrant family in Germany, they knew that there might come a day where they would need to attend to duties back at home.
How the idea was born
Ramya’s nose puckered at the plastic-clad smell of cut fruit in her son’s lunch box. There was no way her son was going to eat the fruit she wouldn't even smell.
Hours of research on amazon showed exorbitant prices and scarce availability, if any at all, for a metal-box with a good design.
No idea is minor if you take action. This was a chance Tez and his wife took to make their self-owned business a reality. They decided to launch a kid-friendly design of a sustainable lunch box as their business venture.
Tez and Ramya worked with professional designers to make a lunch box made out of stainless steel that won't cut into the delicate fingers of their child, which he could open easily and which didn't have choking hazards or parts that snap and cut.
Thus in 2017, Sattvii was established.
Experiences of owning a small business
The reality of owning a small business is different from the rosy internet stories and get-rich-quick schemes. The legality and bureaucracy of a business are a larger part of reality than the parts one dreams of.
Whatever the commercials or the paid-ads in your LinkedIn inbox might tell you, the IT infrastructure of the real world is abominable.
Banks are reluctant to give new businesses credit until they have established credibility, which is an unfair ask on small businesses.
As a business owner, it is on you to make it work, come hell or high-water.
Tez quickly learned that quality makes people talk. He got his chemical-free products certified in flying colors with the official German certifier-of-everything called TÜV. Only a good reputation can save a business against cheaper competition from overseas.
At the end of the day, it is not all that easy to get your business off the floor, small or big.
“No matter what people say, the toughest step in the whole business is “selling”. The word “seller” (Verkaeufer) in German has a negative connotation. You just have to close your earholes and keep pushing”.
“We can put in an enormous amount of hard work, but if people do not want to spend money on it, we cannot force them to buy. Business needs luck too. This has calmed me down a bit mentally”, says Viswa with a look of acquired wisdom and acceptance.
Regrets and Mistakes
The only thing Tez regrets about his small business is that he did not start at least 10 years sooner. “The sooner you start, the longer you have to recover from all the times you are going to fall.”
Having once been an entrepreneur, Tez will never go back to not being one. Having just one income stream is a dangerous gamble. Don’t just do it for the money, though, apply your prowess, take control!
When it all worked out
In a few months from starting his small business, it grew to a six-figure turnover. It was only further proof that the gap they saw in the market was wide and waiting to be filled.
There were loyal customers who were not only leaving great reviews on amazon but took to marketing the products of Sattvii in local German bio-supermarkets.
The impeccable quality of their products beats their competition by a large margin. “People want the best for their children, and I will deliver it!”
What more can a product-owner ask for?
Advice for newbies
Having established a successful business and made his family’s future secure, Tez can only recommend it with gusto.
No amount of course work can help you understand demand and supply like putting your own money and time can. You will only get better at your day job by moonlighting as an entrepreneur.
Start sooner, think big, go global. Don’t think your village, think the world.
Not even being the CEO of someone else’s business compares to owning your business. If you are afraid of bureaucracy, there is no place on earth where you will escape it, so why not deal with it wherever you are right now!”
Another piece of advice Tez has to young entrepreneurs is to expand their channels. “Don’t just be on Amazon, be on all of them! Explore more market segments, create more brands, if need be. Go wide.”
For all the young entrepreneurs, people on the verge of starting off, people who are just settling into their cozy jobs, people who have long been accustomed to getting a pay-check and nothing else, Tez and Ramya’s story is a nudge and a poke.
Wake up. Do what you always wanted to do. It is never too late to start off and now is as good a time as any!
Note from the author
I met Viswatez through a professional connection on LinkedIn. Tez is a simple yet precise individual who rations his time to make the best of it. Despite everything he manages, his family is the center of his attentions. It is not only his source of inspiration for a new business but also the purpose of it.
Meeting a fellow immigrant who was “making-it” was an inspiring story for me, which I wanted to share with you all.
It was a mind-opening experience, to imagine the story behind every little commercial and profile picture we see on every page.
Thanks, Viswatez and Ramya for sharing your story with me.