Business experiment in NSS camp

Yesterday while watching a video related to business. It reminds me of an event that took place when I was in my second year back in 2011 I was doing B.Tech I.T in a college nearby Chennai. It was one of my dreams to be a part of the NSS team during my school days, unfortunately, I wasn't a part of the NSS team due to academic reasons. But time has its way of giving a chance, Yes, I had the opportunity to join in NSS team in my college.

NSS Team

We were around nearly 50 people, planning to do a camping activity in one of nearby village 15Km from our college. We have to say there for 15 days. And get along with the village people, learn how their daily life will be and be a part of it. We learned and did lots of other activities I will explain in another blog. Let me get straight to one such activity which I personally excited to.

Business Activity

We were separated into 8 teams, each team has a leader. As a part of E-cell(The Entrepreneurship Cell) activity, each team should invest Rs.50.00( INR ) initially.

Objective

It is a 24hr activity, We need to invest the initial money in any kind of business. At the end of the day, we need to show the profit you made. The activity was initiated at 6:30 pm will be active till the next day at 6:30 pm.

The Business plan

We are a team of 5 went to a nearby tea shop in that village, we had a brainstorming conversation about what can we do. Came up with random ideas like

  • Small Tiffen center
  • Snack shop

And so on, But we realize that it needs lots of things to get started. For example, to start a small tiffin center, we need lots of equipment like a gas stove, a person who knew cooking and utensils. So we started to validate it with the availability in hand.

Strategy

We discussed the possibilities of being in a village and with only Rs.50 in hand. We found out an interesting idea. Do you want to know what day it was? It's a sports day at the school, where we use to stay in village. This gave us an idea to think about while putting us in the shoes of the students what the will be needing.

Some of the interesting things that we came up with. Since it's summer, a typical sports day drains the athletes, cheering students, organizers which also including us and teachers.

Challenges

The only challenge was choosing the right type of idea that needs to have

  • Small investment
  • It should be needy
  • Less pricing modal
  • Better returns

Cucumber Shop

So we choose to sell "cucumber" or "mango" but don't know whether this village has these plantation. But It is the seasonal fruits and vegetables. We went for a walk in the village enquiring about what kinds of fruits and vegetables the plant and also asking about who does. Unfortunately the showed a person who does cucumber plantation. We reached him started to engage about how much we get for Rs.40. He said I will give a half bag of cucumber which also includes wastages. We were discussing it later on purchased it for Rs.35.

Investment - Rs.50
Purchased cucumber - Rs.35

Now we have something in hand to sell. We head back to our room, counting the good ones and wastages, while coming back we purchased salt and chili powder. We got a cup from a nearby neighboring house to mix the salt and chili to give a flavor.

Chilli powder - Rs.5
Salt - Rs 5

the end product

Execution

After separating the vegetable we have 25% of wastage. 75% is a good state that counts around 40. The day came to execute our business model. We chose a place where there is enough space for people to stand in the shade from the sun. We knew that people will love to have cucumber in summer.

We sliced a single cucumber into 4 pieces I have added a picture for reference. Each piece we sold for Rs.1 / Rs.2 depends on the size of the piece. That's where our business model lies. Just with a business model in hand, it's not going to make you any profit, it needs to be executed well too. So we came up a process

  • One person will take care of who gave the money and how many customer needs
  • Another person take care of cutting the vegetable into slices based on the demand and requirement
  • Third-person responsible for adding the flavors and also refill the cup again
  • Fourth and fifth are responsible to sell readymade cucumber on the go.

We executed in two ways. Going to the customer(students) directly and selling and Building a business where a customer(students) take a temporary break from the sun. We sold all the 40 cucumbers some were sliced to 4 and somewhere sliced to 5.

We didn't expect that our business will go peak, all the cucumber were sold in just 2hours. But the sports day wasn't over yet. Still, we are in the business but have nothing to sell, the only thing we have is the profit. To say it in numbers we made a profit of about Rs.356 + initial investment of Rs.50.

Second business model

Now we have money to invest in lots of things. But what's next? Suddenly we came up with an idea to open a lemon juice shop. We send two of the people from our team to check and purchase the availability of lemon plantation in the village.

After 30mins the returned with half bag of lemons. Now We need a big utensil to make the juice, One person in our team took that job of making the juice. Again we are not experts, we need to agree with that. It's a kind of trial we made in the first run with real customers.

The process we followed to make the juice. In this process, each took ownership to accomplish one single vision that will be shared among us.

  • One took the responsibility of getting utensil and water from well
  • Two people took care of slicing the half bag of lemon
  • One people took care of squeezing the lemon inside the utensil
  • One responsible for stirring the juice adding nannari sharbat and watching out the taste of the juice.

We didn't fix any pricing model. We just invested in something we are trying out. At one point the person who tastes says to stop adding and slicing a lemon. Let's get this juice to the event. Wait wait. We forgot two major thing

  • How we are going to distribute the juice,
  • How much we need to charge for.

We went to a nearby shop to get two packs of plastic glasses which holds 200 glass to solve distribution problem. To come up with a pricing model. We don't how to calculate it. We just kept as Rs.4 per glass.

Investment for Lemon Juice Business
Nannari sharbat - Rs.38
Lemon Rs.50
Sugar Rs.60

Now we head back to the same place where we did previous business but this time. The complete business is a readymade model. We jneed to get the total no. of juice the customer need and then give them. So simple as that. At the end of sports event we sold 112 glass of juice that came up to a total of Rs.448 in revenue. That huge for us.

I have summed up the whole money process below

Investment - Rs.50 ( + )
Purchased Cucumber - Rs.35 ( - )
Salt - Rs.5 ( - )
Chilli powder - Rs.5 ( - )
Total Invested - Rs.40
In hand - Rs.10

After First Business

Revenue - Rs.406
Profit - Rs.356 + Rs.10 ( in hand amount ) = Rs.366

Second Business Investment

Purchased Lemon - Rs.50 ( - )
Nannari sharbat - Rs.38 ( - )
Lemon Rs.50 ( - )
Sugar Rs.60 ( - )
Total Invested - Rs.198
In hand - Rs.168

After Second Business

Revenue - Rs.448
Profit - Rs.250 + Rs.168 ( in hand amount ) = Rs.418

So you may ask what we did with the remaining juice? We gave juice to our NSS teams for free. At the end of the day, some made a profit some didn't but everyone tried. We got the maximum revenue. kudos to the team. I don't want to say that we did the best. We saw it as learnings, this one single activity taught us a lot of things

  • Commitment
  • Sincerity and dedication towards what we do
  • Taking the right idea to the given market
  • Brainstorming
  • Responsibilities
  • Ownership
  • Belive in process
  • Execution
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Fellowship

These are not just the keywords, Each and everything points holds a strong actions when coming to the business. Some people get it some not something we need to learn by getting into B schools. It need to come naturally. I will share my experiences through my series of blog posts.

Karthikeyan Rajendran
Author

Karthikeyan Rajendran

I'm a front-end engineer with 6+ years of experience developing UI/UX for cloud products. I write about my journey as product developer, ideas and startup. You can reach me from karthik_ricssion@yahoo.com