Meet the Herbal Evangelist @Nirogam

The Rebel

I am a rebel at heart. I listen only to myself. This has given me heart burns but also some valuable lessons in living. I chose not to complete formal education. I chose to start off on my own despite having a family business that was doing good. While I do not endorse rebellion as a virtue, I do think its important to stand up for what you think is right.

The beginning

After I completed my Bachelors degree in Commerce, my father was keen that I join his business.I, however, had other plans.

Computers were a rage in 1996 and VSNL imparted training in web hosting. I got trained and was approached by someone who had discovered a plant based insulin to treat diabetes. She consulted me for web hosting and later for the sale of her medicine. As inquiries and orders poured in from different parts of the world, it was clear to me and my father that there was a ready overseas market for traditional Indian medicines.

We started selling triphala, amla, neem and various other products which were once part of the grandma’s folklore in our country. As the demand increased, our business also grew. People came to us with customized requests and we took great pains to deliver the product each time. From 2000–2008, we did brisk business but it was followed by a period of lull for about 18 months. I started getting restless. I knew that I had to do something of my own. One fine day, I made a decision that did not go well with my father.

I informed him that I was moving to Bangalore. My father was shocked. Why are you leaving me? he asked. There were speculations among the relatives. “Why is he doing this? Is there a dispute in the family? Why is he throwing off everything like this? “All these comments and counter comments made life difficult, yet, I was adamant. I headed to Bangalore while my parents faced the criticism for having a truant son!

I moved to Bangalore with no job in hand, neither a plan as to what I was to do. I was in a dilemma. When I told people that I sold Ayurvedic products, they said, it’s a good business. Why change?

I decided to rechristen the website and increase the range of products on sale. I looked up my repository of domain names and Nirogam struck me as the most appropriate. It was rustic, ethnic and it spoke about Ayurveda.”

Bangalore: The Game Changer

In Bangalore among the many other things I did, was a course that I attended by Srikanth Acharya. I had met Srikanth at TiE, Bangalore. I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

‘If it’s right for you, who am I to tell you anything about it’, Srikanth said simply. This is the single most important message in self –belief that ever came to me.

I also met Alok Kejriwal of Rodindoods. The ever supportive Rodindoods community, helped me answer a few questions. I, then joined BNI, Business Network International. These experiences changed me for the better. Bangalore has been a game changer for me. It’s only in Bangalore that I could be sitting in a café and chatting up with a stranger on the do’s and don’ts in business. Exchanging valuable information so casually!

The Doubt

Yes, there were doubts, worries and sometimes, I just wanted to windup the business and go back home. But then there are instances when your heart is touched by the genuine appreciation that comes your way. It happened to us many times like the uber rich overseas client of ours, who would invite me to his home, every time I visited London. Such expression of love and gratitude is enough to keep me going.

The Real Asset

The real asset in any business is perhaps intangible. It is the person to person connect you build that will never make it to any balance sheet.

When we go out of our way to deliver Bhandar Chap Dant Manjan or neem ka datum, it becomes a special experience for us as it is for our clients. It is amazing that the Indian Diaspora is so connected to age old Indian brands, values and ways of living.It’s always a pleasant surprise to me. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia.

The Question

There are questions raised about the validity of Ayurvedic products. We don’t have enough research to demonstrate that these medicines work, but it’s common knowledge in our country that they do.

Whenever I hear this question about the proof of the efficiency of a product of Ayurveda, I am tempted to quote this dialogue by Amrish Puri in the film,Meri Jung, “ Jiske pass saboot nahi hota uska matlab kya ye gunegar hai”. (If a person does not have proof, does it mean that he is a culprit?)

Let me illustrate the case with an example. For centuries, turmeric has been used for its curing abilities in our country and we know for sure that it works every time. Still we reject many of these ayurvedic remedies for want of proof !

The Positive Change

The Ministry of Ayush is a welcome change in this scenario. Hopefully there will be more studies on the impact of Ayurvedic medicines and this will further consolidate the good will, the treatments enjoy in different parts of the world. In fact, The National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine in New York, California College of Ayurveda, Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington are just a few examples of how seriously the world looks at Ayurveda.

At Nirogam, we have recently started online consultations in an attempt to reach out to more people. The online consultation is indeed, receiving a very good response.I am a late believer in Ayurveda ,myself. Now that I have experienced its benefits personally I have become a convert to the Ayurvedic way of living.

To The Aspiring Entrepreneur

First and foremost, believe in what you do. If you don’t believe in your idea, you will not meet success. If you believe in your idea, nothing can stop you.

The other day I received a mail from an entrepreneur who wanted to now work with Nirogam. I had to tell him that entrepreneurship is not a game to exit and enter at your own will.

If you have sleepless nights for over 20–30 days about an idea then you should know that it’s a belief. Otherwise you will have to dismiss it as a mere passing fancy.

Your journey as an entrepreneur is like the lines on a crumpled paper, there are valleys and turns and twists on it. It’s never a straight line. There is also something called the beginners luck which can be deceptive when you taste success initially and then hit the lows.

If you were to run for a long time, wouldn’t you take a break to catch your breath? If you inhale don’t you have to exhale as well? As an entrepreneur you should be able to anticipate the pauses, the lulls, the valleys, the set-backs. These are what will essentially push you to go further.

Well, nobody ever begins big. You become big when you do a lot of small things. Every day you have to refocus on your task to taste real success. Success is a journey, not a destination.

The Belief

Ayurveda is a way of living. It’s much more than knowledge of a few herbs and medicines. It’s my belief in living in the present that drives me. It is at the core of my being.

Puneet Agarwal is the founder of Nirogam,India’s first Ayurvedic Online Store since Year 2000. Selling dietary, Organic,Ayurveda Supplements.