There’s one more week left for Ebin Jose, a B.Tech student at Rajagiri College, to take the next semester examination. He’d mention that first when you begin to talk. It’s time he is into some serious studies. Unlike his fellow students, the 21-year-old Ebin from Tripunithura can’t just have his head buried in books and think only about scoring good grades. He is boss to a team of men and women numbering 18, who’d pick, pack and take stock at the end of the day of the huge consignments reaching customers on time. At this tender age, he has three years of experience in selling spices, natural produce and their value-added products online.
It all started at age 18, when he was vacationing after class XII. The much-awaited, carefree period in a student’s life, for Ebin, was not time to make merry.
He got into uncharted waters, faced it until it paid off and got labelled as a successful young entrepreneur. What began in the summer of 2015 has a turnover of Rs 80 lakh annually. It occurred in slow and steady steps. The spark came from a bottle of synthetically made honey he purchased from somewhere.
The young boy, just out of school, could not make peace with getting cheated. Nature Loc, his own store, went online with a line-up of everyday things that were once commonly available in anyone’s backyard, but now a rarity.
During the conversation , Ebin reminds us that he has gone one step higher by adding traditional Indian stone grinder, Dosa pan and so on to the list.
That old vacation would have turned into something else, had that bottle of honey not come his way. He happened to discuss this with his engineer-turned-bizman uncle Joby Joseph, who runs a website for job aspirants.
“He gave me the idea of starting an online store to sell natural products. All the marketing lessons came from him. I was advised on how important it is to have a strong marketing presence online on YouTube and social media. Things were a bit dull in the early days. Now when the product name is searched on Google, say jackfruit chips online, our link appears on the first search page,” he says.
Dad Jose Joseph and mom Jaisy Augustine could not stand against their only son’s wish either.
Every evening, once back from college, Ebin would rush to the terrace of his home, doubled up as the ‘exporter’s office’.
“We have started getting orders from other Indian states and abroad. Now the problem is we have to be more responsible about getting them delivered on time. It is a struggle at times. There are bulk orders to be packed in huge quantities.
Some are retailers. Required materials are sourced from the farms of my relatives, friends and their friends,” he says. International orders are couriered to the customers.
Even graduates are part of Ebin’s enterprise. Some work part-time. “Most of the employees are needed for the packing process. It would be vacation time for me in June and July. Some of my friends are thrilled to join me in the business,” he says.
How would he like to be known, as an engineer or entrepreneur? “I’d like to do a job and simultaneously take care of the business. If my online shop expands, I may get into it full-time,” he clarifies.