Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Vananam: Creating wealth and driving growth for Bharat

Empowering entrepreneurs and unlocking the potential of partnerships

Published: Aug 31, 2023 02:15:24 AM IST
Updated: Aug 31, 2023 02:51:35 PM IST

Vananam: Creating wealth and driving growth for BharatLiving up to its name, which means ‘wealth’ in Sanskrit, Vananam is a conglomerate that seeks to empower entrepreneurs to create wealth for all stakeholders. Launched in 2021, as a start-up entrepreneurial enterprise, it has a presence across diverse domains from real estate and agri-commodities to transit retail and the rewards sector.

In barely two years, it has achieved meteoric growth, clocking a turnover of USD100 million by 2023. It has also rapidly scaled up its geographic presence from just one office to five physical offices in India and two subsidies - one each in Dubai and Singapore. Starting out with a team of just three people in September 2021, Vananam has grown in strength to 197 people today, of which 30+ are emerging leaders whose inspiring work has been backed by Vananam. Among all these commendable milestones, its biggest achievement is that the organisation has been profitable all along its journey this far.

Despite Vananam’s exponential growth, its young and visionary co-founders – Keshav Inani and Mahendra Rathod – have an even greater vision for the future of the enterprise. In a special episode, titled ‘Vananam – Creating Wealth and Building Bharat’, CNBC TV18 caught up with the dynamic duo to get a sense of what has motivated and enabled them to achieve so much, so quickly, and what they have planned for the future of their venture.

A Chartered Accountant by qualification, Keshav Inani hails from a family of Marwadis that migrated from Rajasthan to North Karnataka two generations ago and threw themselves into the magic of making miracle sarees. “I come from a family of hustlers,” he says, adding, “Watching my family doing business and expanding their domain always inspired me. It is perhaps what sowed the seeds for Vananam.”  

Mahendra Rathod, on the other hand, shared that his grandfather was a humble farmer in a small village in Gujarat. “My father was the first person in that entire village to pursue an education and move out to become a teacher. Thanks to my parent’s efforts I had a chance to study at Sainik School - Balachadi, one of the most premium military schools in India. There I learned about perseverance, adaptability, hard work and other values that came in handy during my entrepreneurial journey.”

The young achievers recalled how they started Vananam with a mission to create wealth for all its stakeholders and empower entrepreneurs. “After I completed my CA in 2019, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in the start-up space and help them scale up their businesses. There was clearly a funding gap in the space, despite the windfall flow of investments into India at that time. That’s when I conceived the idea of approaching the Marwadi community, who had the funds and were risk takers by nature, with an offer to invest in good quality start-ups at a very early stage of their development. This would deliver a win-win situation for both the entrepreneurs and people with financial capital.”

Their venture has two predominant theses at its foundation – firstly, it is ‘built in Bharat, by Bharat, for the world’ and the second guiding principle is to create wealth and empower entrepreneurs. The founders talked about how they leveraged the power of people by equipping the enterprise with the right processes and technology. “With a very lean team, we enable and measure progress using technology. However, we only use as much tech as is needed to empower the business, without burning money on it towards making ‘tech’ the business,” says Mahendra.

When asked about their secret of success, Keshav reveals, “It has a lot to do with being at the right place at the right time. The biggest boon for us is being based out of India, with its abundant young and aspirational population, which is its greatest resource. We have been able to get the right people, in terms of investors, suppliers, partners and customers. Stakeholder management is at the heart of Vananam; we have been investing in relationships that can stand the tests of time and challenges since the beginning.”

With a blazing track-record during their two years of operations, Team Vananam has a spectacular vision for the future of their venture. “We aspire to be one of the largest conglomerates in India and empower generations of entrepreneurs for centuries to come,” says Mahendra.
Keshav reiterates that it was always about giving back to society, in the form of creation of jobs and wealth for all stakeholders within the ecosystem. “Vananam particularly seeks to empower segments of entrepreneurs with immense potential that have been hitherto overlooked - from farmers (the oldest entrepreneurs of society) and women entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs in tier 2&3 cities and young graduates,” he explains.

Essentially, Vananam has aligned its vision for the future with that of India’s resplendent unfolding growth story. While India readies itself to take the global centre-stage during the next decade, the founders of Vananam seek to contribute by unlocking the colossal potential of Bharat.

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