The Breakfast King
Most of us today are running busy. For those of us who don’t have the time to make everything from scratch, good quality readymade batter like iD fresh is a godsend. If you’ve been shopping in South Indian metros, you’d see iD everywhere. The man behind this successful ₹ 350-crore business, PC Musthafa, has a rather rough past.
PC Musthafa was born into a lower middle class family in the Wayanad region of Kerala. The meagre earnings of his father only got him and his sisters barely enough to survive. Growing up, the young boy went to school often without food, just for the free midday meal. His biggest desire back then was to wear a clean white shirt to school every day like many of his classmates.
The entrepreneurial bug bit Musthafa early. Along with helping his father at work, he also set up roadside sweet stalls during the summer holidays to earn some money. With all eye on work, Musthafa failed 6th grade.
The first big break in his life occurred when he cleared the engineering entrance exam with a decent rank through sheer hard work. He graduated as an engineer in 1994, and then worked in Bengaluru, Ireland and Dubai with many telecom and IT companies; he returned to Bengaluru in 2004 to sign himself up for the MBA programme at IIM-B.
iD was born later in 2006 in a small kitchen in Bengaluru with money pooled in by Musthafa and his cousins. From the initial investment of Rs.50,000, today the company boasts 1600 paid employees. The investment for the new upcoming plant alone is Rs. 100 crore.
The strength of iD among many other similar companies is its wholesomeness. In a market where everybody was cranking up shelf life and inventory, iD went the opposite way with quality batters free of preservatives or even baking soda. This business model of iD that has managed to sell a perishable product with a max shelf life of 7 days, with zero preservatives, so efficiently is now a case study at the Harvard Business School.
Even all these showers of gains haven’t diminished any of Musthafa’s core. In the early days of iD, when he was struggling to make ends meet, he once received a business order from a famous five star bar for thousands of packets of diamond cuts, a popular fried snack. He turned the offer away, feeling uneasy about encouraging liquor consumption even in the faintest of ways.
He now hasn’t forgotten the long road he had to travel to get to this good place. He now works silently to make the path easy for many others like him. Musthafa has built 100s of economically viable homes for people living under tarpaulin sheets in Kodagu. He picks unskilled people from villages and trains them in world-class facilities, as his way of giving back to society. “I cannot forget that there are still people (like young Musthafa) who cannot afford breakfast,” he says.
Education can turn around your life. Mustafa not just uplifted his own life but also uplifted the life of everyone around him.
Farm Labourer to a Millionaire
Burdened with no means to raise a little girl, Jyothi’s father gave her off to an orphanage at age 10 in an obscure village in Warangal, Telangana. She blossomed there all the way up until her teenage, when she decided she’d only marry for love, being inspired by a blockbuster romantic movie she’d secretly watched bunking the orphanage.
But fate had different plans for the little girl. She was married off exactly a year later to a man 10 years her senior. She was 16 then. All her hopes of a better life flew with the wind when she realized he was a daily labourer. Jyothi too was fated to work long hours under the blazing hot Telengana sun in farms for a wage of Rs.5 a day. She had a daughter at 17 and another at 18 and worked for three more years on the farm, taking care of her babies and the household work.
As she toiled away in the farms, an opportunity came knocking up her door and she hung on to it tight. She started teaching stitching at a night school and she was now a government teacher. She then got promoted and was posted to visit every village in Warangal to train women and youth in stitching clothes.
Slowly she realized that she needed a good education to make something of herself. She mastered a vocational course from the Ambedkar Open University. Jyothi was then earning a few hundreds every month which to her were like lakhs because she could finally afford medicine and a few toys for her daughters. But deep down, she fiercely yearned to escape the poverty she was born in and was married into. That’s when she laid an eye on her cousin from the United States of America.
Unlike Jyothi who had to plait her hair tight and had to walk with her head down on the farms, her cousin drove cars with her head held high, free hair and stylish goggles. Jyothi fixed her aim on going to the US next, enrolling herself in computer software classes in Hyderabad. Her teaching job brought her Rs.5000, and since that would in no way be enough to go to the US, she ran a chit fund and earned Rs. 25,000 from it.
Jyothi’s husband did not share her aspirations, though. Jyothi somehow managed to convince him, get help from many of her relatives and went to her dreamland, leaving her husband and children behind. The scenario did not change much there. She struggled to speak English and had to walk three miles to work every day. She worked as a salesgirl, like room service, as a baby sitter, gas station attendant and a software recruiter. She finally earned enough and convinced her family to move with her back to the US and started her own company there.
Today Jyothi is the CEO of Key Software Solutions, headquartered in Arizona, US, valued at $15 million. Her journey was no easy one either. She owns two houses in India and six in the US. She never plaits her hair and leaves it free. She drives a Mercedes Benz wearing dark shades. While she had exactly two sarees to wear when she was a teacher, she now bought herself a saree worth a lakh and sixty thousand for her daughter’s marriage.
She hasn’t forgotten her journey though. She celebrates her birthday in India every year in orphanages in Warangal. She also sponsors a school for mentally challenged children. Jyothi Reddy uses her power to bring the problems of girl orphans into the light. She says, in a home she visited in Hyderabad, six orphans from Grade 10 had given birth to children who were then being raised as orphans in the same institution as their student mothers. She believes she will be an inspiration for many young minds that yearn to become like her.
Hard work, Perseverance and Ambition will never let you down!