Nikunj Harlalka: An Entrepreneur with a Golden Heart

Nikunj Harlalka,Co-Founder & Director

Nikunj Harlalka

Co-Founder & Director

“It has been a journey of self-discovery. Being an entrepreneur is about discipline and consistency. The best part of entrepreneurship is that it keeps throwing challenges at you and overcoming them gives you a story to narrate,” quips Nikunj Harlalka, Co-Founder & Director, C.G Herbals. Believing in the phrase, ‘If there is struggle, there is life’, Nikunj’s entrepreneurial journey has been the perfect instance of a roller coaster ride. A graduate and a diploma holder in Import-Export Management, Nikunj started his first venture Organic Certified Aromatic Ingredients when he was still pursuing his graduation.By 2015, the company became one of the largest producers of non-mint aromatic ingredients in India and still continues to maintain its position. “Connecting with the rural farming communities, processing the produce and brining in the finest quality organic aromatic ingredients to global FMCG companies has been the most fulfilling profession I would have ever been in,” says a proud Nikunj.

The Turning Point

Raw material sourcing trips took Nikunj to remote places across Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Manipur and Maharashtra every two months, which used to be 25 days a month during the initial three years. This extensive travel to rural areas brushed him with the brutal reality of these locals that were still underdeveloped and needed due attention from the educated section of the society. “Farming communities are losing interest in cultivation. Menial job opportunities and migration to cities are being seen as more glamorous and better prospects to one’s future,” says Nikunj. But to put a full stop to it, he organizes exposure visits, capability building programs and others for farmers, but still finds a tough time to grab youths’

But things changed when Advit (Nikunj’s son) was born in 2012. “I realized that it’s finally time that I engage in work which makes me stay closer to home,” says Nikunj. It was the time when Indie Perfumery or Boutique Perfumery was catching up fast. However, these perfumers who were often single owner were struggling to find quality ingredients in small packing. Nikunj’s (e-Commerce division) reached out to them with 1000+ ingredients in the smallest possible packing delivered within two weeks anywhere across the globe. The company broke-even in 2015 and the business currently witnesses 60 percent growth year-on-year. “I am glad that I made a conscious decision to choose a niche field which still connects me to my interests,” says a proud Nikunj. Today he is on the mission to constantly deliver quality product and services to the personal care industry at affordable prices with particular focus on fulfilling all orders within time and envisions creating quality essential oils through sustainable agriculture while influencing increasing number of rural youths to take up agriculture seriously.

Nikunj now believes that entrepreneurs should start looking at entrepreneurship in a less glamorous way to be in it for the long run

Today a well-known name within the industry, Nikunj is associated with The Rodin hoods, a forum for entrepreneurs, whose Open House has deeply influenced his work. Betting on his years of experience, Nikunj suggests his fellow peers to be consistent and never do a disappearing act. “One must always keep in mind that it will de-rail someone if you do that. Facing situation and people with dignity and humanity are bare essentials of being an entrepreneur,” he says. This has helped Nikunj build a strong foundation of trust among his buyers and team members.

Growing as an Entrepreneur while Learning

Quitting his education post
graduation is one of the biggest risks Nikunj took. “The circumstances in which I left my education were the lowest point of my life,” states he. The learning from the episode was to never ignore your academics. “If you take up a subject and don’t find liking it, then either give your best to like it and excel, or change the subject even if it means loss of a year,” he further adds. But thanks to his family who has always been very supportive of his decisions. Greatly influenced by his father’s (Ramakant Harlalka) enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge, Nikunj walks on his foot-steps and believes firmly in the spirit of enterprise. Alongside, the way his wife Prachi, a balanced person and a perfectionist, has been managing their kids, social life and home, provides Nikunj an extra ability to concentrate on his work.“Without family support, it’s impossible to pull off work. I additionally thank my uncle Laxmikant Harlalka and brothers Sanjay, Sandeep and Nishant for their unconditional trust and support towards me,” says Nikunj.His son Advit has already worn the entrepreneur shoes and attends his dad’s office once in a while on Saturdays; probably an entrepreneur-in-making.

This fitness freak dedicates four days in a week towards yoga/walking. But when it comes to food, hear what Nikunj has to say, “Talk about food to a Marwari! My hard fitness regime is mitigated by my love for food. I relish on Indian sweets and Asian food tops my list of favourites”. US being his favourite work spot, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Maldives are his anytime favourite family holiday destinations.

Greatly influenced by the movie ‘Intern’, Nikunj now believes that entrepreneurs should start looking at entrepreneurship in a less glamorous way to be in it for the long run. “Creating a sense of ownership and making the team and partner in company’s growth is our way of creating a next-gen of entrepreneurs.He believes that the next five years is crucial for him, and given the changes sweeping the Indian economy and C.G Herbals’ integration with global best practices, Nikunj believes taking his company to the global level. He also has geared up to put himself in areas where hopes are given up, and where people are struggling to survive.