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NextGen marwadis growing out of family biz to head ‘New Age’ enterprises

AHMEDABAD, JUNE 4:

What a transformation it has been! The Marwadis have come a long way since they first emerged from the arid Marwad region of the then Rajputana (now Rajasthan) in the mid-19th century to spread across the Indian sub-continent, prompting the phrase Jahan na jaye bail-gaadi, wahan jaye Marwadi (A marwadi businessman would even go to areas where a bullock cart could not!)

They have catalysed and controlled the levers of the economic transformation of India from a predominantly agrarian to an increasingly industrial economy, passing on their businesses and trades to their offspring.

But things are changing. Marwadi boys are looking beyond their traditional businesses. And the start-up space seems to have caught their fancy. They are no longer travelling to remote areas to set up shop; instead, they are doing so at their native places, graduating from business ‘theology’ to technology.

Vinit’s family was in the scrap business, extracting precious metal from aircraft and telephone exchanges bought in auction, while Diwakar's family was into publication. Hitesh did not want to join the family business of running grocery, dairy, or general store shops, and Ashutosh decided to use high technology to refurbish his family’s tradition of running educational institutions.

Meet these highly-educated NextGen marwardis, all from Tier-I and II cities, who have decided to grow out of their families’ traditional occupations and reinvent themselves: Vinit Jain is CEO and Co-Founder of LoanStreet.in, Diwakar Chittora is Founder-CEO and Technical Director of Intellipaat Software Solutions, Hitesh Khandelwal is co-founder of SmartPrix.com, and Ashutosh Modi runs Jivem Education.

But it was no overnight decision to give up their family businesses. Like small fish in a big pond, most of them have worked for marquee companies before striking out on their own. “My grandfather, the late Gulabchand Jain Bottlewala, used to export bottles of size 1 feet to 6 feet from Agra, while my family was into the aircraft dismantling and scrap business. But I now run this end-to-end loan consultancy service,� says Vinit who, for 12 years, worked with the Bajaj Group, HSBC, ICICI and General Electric before he founded his own business two years ago.

“We, the marwadis, have business in our blood. We are now getting into newer geographies and venturing out from our traditional businesses to new ones,� he told BusinessLine. His firm, currently present in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Indore and Delhi, is set to expand to 17 cities across India in the next few months.

Diwakar’s father was an author and government official in Rajasthan, while his mother ran a publication house. After serving American Express, Mercedes Benz and Wipro for years, he set up Intellipaat, an e-learning company providing online and corporate training to working professionals on big data, business intelligence, and cloud technologies. Based in Bengaluru and Jaipur, the firm now has about 40 corporate clients and over two lakh users.

While still a student at IIT-Delhi, Hitesh, son of a grocer in Alwar (Rajasthan), decided to branch out and set up what is now Smartprix.com, an online service to provide shoppers comparisons between products and prices. “We now gets three lakh visitors every day and a commission from sellers, besides earnings from advertisements,� said Hitesh, whose company is based in Noida.

For Ashutosh, whose father ran educational institutions at Jhunjhunu, a small town in Rajasthan with a population of just 1.5 lakh, the career choice was not difficult: he now runs 22 educational and skill development institutions with 15,000 students under the umbrella of Jivem Education, a company set up in 2009, and heads EntrancePrime.com, an e-learning portal. His prior experience with Larsen and Toubro Infotech, Harlequin, and Mills and Boon came in handy.