Dr C K Rajkumar, an entrepreneur credited with pioneering sachet revolution in this part of the world, had an innate connection with the word innovation. He passed away here on October 7.
Hailing from a rich trader family in the coastal town of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, Dr Rajkumar began experimenting with marketing shampoo and other products manufactured by his father since his college days and emerged successful.
From stuffing powder in a piece of paper in the name of Vel shampoo to packing the liquid in tiny polythene covers to their current form of fool-proof sachets, it was all Dr Rajkumars idea that earned him the sobriquet sachet king.
Dr Rajkumar, who is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, manufactured and marketed Velvette shampoo, Nivaran 90 cough syrup, and memory-enhancer tablet Memory Plus, which were household names in the 1990s. Not just in India, the doctor-turned-entrepreneur spread his wings in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka as well.
If not for his (Rajkumars) risk-taking abilities, we would have remained as a small trader family from Cuddalore. If today the CK (Chinni Krishna) family is known across India, it is only because of my elder brother, C K Kumaravel, CEO of Naturals salon and Rajkumars brother, told& Deccan Herald. FMCG major Cavinkare is owned by Rajkumars another brother C K Ranganathan.
My brother lived Bernard Shaws quote that the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself and therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. We saw him bring about the sachet revolution which made products affordable to the common man. Today we get everything in a sachet, but the seed for it was sown by my brother, Kumaravel added.
Dr E S S Raman, a diabetologist and college mate of Dr Rajkumar, said: He began marketing shampoo powder in the 1970s when we were pursuing medicine at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital. The powder stuffed in a piece of paper was available only at a tea shop outside our hostel. It is the same powder that was later converted into shampoo in the name of Velvette.
Though the entrepreneurial nature never left his mind and heart, Dr Rajkumar pursued higher studies and became an ophthalmologist but his fathers sudden death in 1979 forced him to take over the family business which he transformed into an empire.
The company that he took over was doing business only in three to four districts in Tamil Nadu, but Dr Rajkumar wanted the Velvette brand to reach the nook and corner of India that he approached industrialist Adi Godrej for marketing his brand. The partnership with Godrej changed the fortunes for Velvette which became a national brand in just about a year.
When the first consignment valued at Rs 4.5 lakh was sent to Godrej, Rajkumar got a phone call from Bombay (now Mumbai) informing that the sachets were leaking.
The episode could have jeopardised our relationship with Godrej, but my brother Rajkumar solved the problem by spending sleepless nights for about two months. He literally stayed at the factory. Once the problem was solved, there was no looking back for him, Kumaravel said.
After Velvette became popular, Dr Rajkumar and a few of his friends formulated an herbal cough syrup and named it Nivaran 90 as it was introduced in the year 1990.
It was the first time a cough syrup was coming in a sachet and not in a bottle. I was the one who made the presentation before Adi Godrej about Nivaran 90 and he was impressed with the product, Dr Raman told Deccan Herald.
Likewise, Memory Plus, was also an herbal-based product which was quite popular, and Dr Rajkumar hired Indian chess grandmaster and former World chess champion Viswanathan Anand as its brand ambassador. In 2008, Dr Rajkumar signed cricketing sensation M S Dhoni to promote Memory Vita, a memory enhancer health drink.
He was always future oriented. Even when I met him two weeks back, he was talking about how ones action should have the future in mind. His singular focus was innovation and his powerful brain helped him achieve his goals, Kumaravelu said, adding that his brothers last advice to a close friend was believe in the impossible and defeat the undefeatable.
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