Today, we have Adman a.k.a Blessing (CEO of Paulsons Group) with us.
When Adman joined Franchise India they had no office at Chennai, so he used his car as his office and used nearby Satyam Theatre for Afternoon AC to get away from the heat of Chennai and for popcorn lunch.
From there, Adman has consulted 100s of brands/business and helped to successfully sell and sold more than 1000s of franchises, established an office and built a great team with his sheer grit.
Later Adman joined Paulsons Group as CEO, there he helped the company to grow it from less than 10 stores to more than 150 stores now. And Paulsons Group is the master franchiser of a number of international brands like Tony&Guy, essensuals, Haagen-Dazs, German Doner Kebab and owns brands like Chakra, SLAM, Jonah’s, Sambhar, Provoke and many such.
Let’s dive into his inspiring entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial and spiritual journey.
Jerin Jacob: Hi Adman! Happy and privileged to have you with us.
Adman a.k.a Blessing: It is my pleasure.
Q1: So as always let’s start off by hearing about you and your family?
Both my mom and dad were Govt officials, mom was Rural Welfare Officer and dad was Executive Officer in Town Panchayat. One elder sister, married and settled in Sirumugai and one elder brother married and doing his own business in Sirumugai. My wife is working with me as Vice President – Franchise Operations.
Decided to not have kids.
Father passed away before marriage.
I learnt how to earn and spend from dad
and how to be kind and entrepreneurial from my mom.
She has helped more than 1000 groups to get a loan and do business like Rabbit Farm, Masala Powder etc. Soap powder too.
Jerin Jacob: Interesting! So your entrepreneurial aspirations came from your parents itself. That’s indeed a blessing which many don’t have.
Adman a.k.a Blessing: I think so… and my father used to read a lot of political magazines… so it made me read all books, magazine, news papers like a book worm.
During my school days used to buy Business Standard on Tuesday, Economics Times on Wednesday and Businessline on Thursday
You will get Supplements in it – Thd Strategist, Brand Equity and Catalyst (now Brand Line)
I think that was my great investments.
Also subscribed for A&M magazine and Readers Digest.
One day a thief came to our house and broke the first almirah and second and third and left empty hand without breaking the fourth Almirah…. in first three it was books, magazines and newspaper cuttings
In the fourth almirah only we had jewels and cash😜
Jerin Jacob: The thief story was funny, that guy didn’t know that even the first 3 almirah’s contents were enough to make a fortune and impact which you have made after some years. Anyways, reading business magazines and newspapers at the young age of choice is so cool. And it’s obvious now that you have been an avid reader.
Q2: That brings me to ask what is that one book which changed your perspective about life and business? And what are the books you recommend to those who are just starting up?
எண்ணங்கள் (Thoughts) by Udayamoorthy
Contemporary Advertising by Aven and Boovie
Marketing Management by Philip Khotler.
The Entrepreneur Mindset by Gaurav Marya,
Outliers, The Go Giver, Get to the Top
The Go Giver, Get to the Top
Get to the Top.
Jerin Jacob: That’s a great bunch of recommendation. Thank you!
Adman a.k.a Blessing: I had great collections but wife send it to trash when we shifted from Coimbatore to Chennai.
Still, I have good collections. Reading all stuff helps us in business, especially as a consultant/mentor.
Now reading Mossad.
Q3: As I understand, even though you have been exposed to business magazines and books at the early stage of your life, you did start off as an employee, share with us your journey of transitioning from an employee to an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur? What was the toughest moment during the time?
To be frank, I was a dropout from school in 11th std. as I lost interest in learning ordinary stuff and want to be a business man
My first venture was Peerless Insurance. Made a dent and because o the company Vs agent issues got out of that.
I made my family, friends, dad, mom and my circle to take insurance big time but after the problem with the company, everyone started worrying about their money. Most of them kept quiet as we are a respected family. After 5 years all of them got their money back double times. Then the scenario changed.
In between, I got an opportunity to go to Gujarat on behalf of my mom to participate in Gramshree Mela where people across Indian villages displayed their artistic and produce for sale.
I was in-charge of Tamilnadu stall, especially to take care of Silk, Kora and cotton sarees produced by Erode & Coimbatore weavers
All my family are into silk and Kora saree manufacturing
Most of them master weavers supplying to big retails like Nalli, Pothys, etc…
I got a flare about the taste and liking of the customers and immediately started my own saree design & trading co.
Travelled across India and traded with all big time sellers in the country
During this period and especially when I was in Gujarat Vidya Peeth, I met Tamil guys Palanisamy and one more doing PhD (about Gandhian ways) in the peace research centre. They celebrated me and hosted dinner with campus professors family. It made me realise that I should learn and earn my degree
The people whom I met during my travel use to write big letters and motivating me and told me that one day I will become a big businessman
Then I started going to Tutorials to finish my +2
That tutorial madam started Aptech and employed me as Marketing Executive with 1300 salary
Finished +2, did BBA too (as people were teasing me that I am not educated). After marriage in 2006, my wife made me finish MBA with distinction
Phase 1. During my Aptech times, I understood that students buy lot of greeting cards, gifts and bouquets so started my first retail business “Adcraft Card Shop” with just 3000 rupees in hand
First people used to buy sister cards, gifts, then love cards, sorry card, bouquet and miss you cards 🤣
That’s the Love love Cycle
My idea was to sell 1000 rupees products x 30 days = 30,000 x 30% = 9,000 per month and I did it . 30% margin
Phase 2. Franchises the flower shop format successfully and got featured in Tholil Ulagam magazine
Phase 3. Started my advertising agency AdcraftSAM
Started travelling lot to meet clients and consulting computer centres, I lost focus in the shop as I thought I should do big things in life
Sold the shop but still, it is functioning successfully
I am planning to buy back some day
Phase 4. During this period I saw one ad inviting franchise partners for an apparel brand. I wrote a mail to that company saying that I can help them to sell the franchises in that region. Immediately I got response from its MD, Shahabuddin Ahamed
He was a management consultant. When he met me he told that you should not do small things and you should shift to metros. It was a great eye opener
He asked me to work for him with him on revenue sharing basis. He had a project “Frujus” like Fruity tetra packs. He asked me to market it. When went to market it was credit business and tough to get self-space. Announced an interesting Gold Coin scheme and liquidated all the products for cash
It gave me big motivation
But unfortunately, the products have some defects and worms were forming due to expiry
Phase 5. So shifted my base to Erode by taking a franchise for Magic Dial, similar to Just Dial.
Registered many clients and it was profitable but due to internal issues in the company they absorbed me, full time into the company as I was close to the management and was successful in sales
Even my employees were absorbed by the company
Tuff time. Back to the square.
Internal issues in the company.
The new team came and took over and started sending people out.
So sales suffered but I was there as I gained trust (when the old boss came to get his papers no one respected him but only me went and took care of him. Because of this good gesture the new boss started respecting me)
I thought I should not be part of any more failure as it is not in my control and thought I should explore the creative industry and joined Ad agencies.
Phase 6. For Annamalai Agencies who are trading cars, I gave a tag line
“Retailing Cars. Retaining Hearts.”
Still, they are using it from 2001
Handled all major retail brands, corporates and NGO called “Siruthuli”. Worked from scratch of making Logo and handling big campaigns like “Mudal Vellam”
Phase 7++. Then I thought it is time to start my own agency Adman. Launched Sparklingmodels.com a launch pad for asking models. Become associate of Franchise India on revenue sharing basis. Consulted Hash10 and made it big. Then franchise Indus hired me full time. Founded Angels of Marina. Founded ProBro.in. Joined full-time Naturals for survival. Finally, joined Paulsons Group for opportunity and for spiritual reason
Jerin Jacob: So the journey so far is – Entrepreneur to Employee – Then Employee to Entrepreneur – Again Entrepreneur to Intrapreneur – Again Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur – Then Again Entrepreneur to Intrapreneur …
Adman a.k.a Blessing: Yes. Never Give Up. Don’t Rest and Form Rust.
Jerin Jacob: An awesome and inspiring quote there!
Adman a.k.a Blessing: I always think that the company I work for is my company
Entrepreneurship is a mindset. You can even own a company in your mind when you are working for them. Those who invested are legal owners.
Q4: So you have been in Paulson Group from the beginning and now you are the CEO and the co-owner of growing the group to leap and bound and you said you joined them for a spiritual reason too, could you share with us what was it?
And tell us how important spirituality is for entrepreneurship – I see you have been connected with ISKON and Jesus, share more about your spiritual journey!
Paulsons started in 2010 but I joined them in 2014 when they had just 9 salons + 2 ice cream shops. Now we have 150 stores.
Out of that 30 company owned
Sam Paul’s (Founder) active involvement has been there as well
When I started feeling that I should quit Naturals and join big corporates, I quit drinking, smoking and meat eating
Till that time I was following Krishna
Then stopped believing in God
As life had many spikes. During this phase, I went to pick my wife from church as she was a secret Christian from childhood
After marrying me she got baptised
I was waiting in church parking, time was going but service is not getting over… so the first time I got into the church to see what these guys are doing? All the words I heard from the pastor was for me!
The first time I felt the presence of God and got great visions.
My wife took me to the pastor to pray for me. He told me that I would become head not the tail
During that time I had three openings
1. Paulsons Group,
2. Another one in Delhi
3. One more in Mumbai
Pastor prayed for me and told to accept Paulsons Group’s opportunity.
I was schematical as they had just 9 stores and no office but took it as very spiritual
Sam only named me CEO
“Head not the Tail” as Pastor had told earlier.
Before that Itself I took baptism and grown in the Lord my Saviour
All praise to him
Just his grace and mercy is enough
The people at top the needs to be spiritually strong to balance the act as there is no one to discuss
“Blessing” is my baptised name
Jerin Jacob: Miraculous journey it is!
Adman a.k.a Blessing: The connection with God in private is important than showing off.
Q5: Now let’s jump into the future, how do you see yourself in the future 10 years from now? How will our world be in 10 years according to you?
I foresee myself as a business coach, mentor, startup consultant holding shares in many startups and leading an Awesome life.
Honesty is new sexy! So entrepreneurs will be transparent in their dealings, practice ethics. Health and environmental consciousness will be expected from all business. Technology will drive all the business and make it more effective.
Entrepreneurs who are Honest. Creative. Smart. Spiritual. and with Big Vision will be leading all the domains.
Q6: In the start-up consultation, you are already creating waves, recently you have been part of Startup Payanam right? Tell us more about it? How are start-ups benefited from it?
I was the official mentor for Startup Payanam (Yatra of young start-up entrepreneurs from Coimbatore to Chennai by road to meet 50+ entrepreneurs)
They met people like me and Sam and understood how entrepreneurs travelled to attain this stage and also about their business models and tips to run it successfully
A great learning for them, a great networking for them, few started contacting us for business deals and heard few sealed few deals already.
Q7: Now… unlike never before across the world students and grown-ups are jumping into entrepreneurship, though many get the initial few success, many failed to grow rapidly and reach to the next level, you have been helping many Franchisees scale faster and even headed Franchise India itself and helped them scale.
What’s your mantra for starting up and scaling up?
The young generation has energy and knowledge but lack in wisdom, which can be attained only thru exposure and real-time experience. Either you have a mentor, or a senior experienced person on board to handhold you till you make the business model successful.
Either you have a mentor, or a senior experienced person on board to handhold you till you make the business model successful.
Entrepreneurs are rare breeds. I will not discourage anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. What I advise them is, explore many industry and markets by being an employee, test your ideas in a right market, have right people for the right job, don’t put two legs into the water, test the water and then complete the jump and get wet.
What I advise them is, explore many industry and markets by being an employee, test your ideas in a right market, have right people for the right job, don’t put two legs into the water, test the water and then complete the jump and get wet.
Then there is no look back. On the way, you will learn and earn wisdom, experience, right people, and you will become one who inspires many!
Once you decided to start an online retail shop then you need to work with the market leader to understand it better and come out with better business model
You need to structure the business models. In a restaurant, there are fine dining, cafe, QSR, casual dining, takeaway, door-delivery…. which one suits your business? Find it! How many menus can you have? Decide! Have SOP in place. Hiring and training should be in place. Then decide on scaling up…
Have SOP in place. Hiring and training should be in place. Then decide on scaling up…
Big format retail? Company owned? Franchising? You have many options
Before becoming an expert in your business don’t scale up!
Franchising is the best route to scale up without diluting your stake!
Starting your own brand is taking a risk. Taking a franchise is calculated risk, as you knew that business model is profitable. First-time Entrepreneurs can opt taking franchise of best brands and start with a sure shot success.
Jerin Jacob: That’s great advice for every aspiring and growing entrepreneur who are reading this.
Q8: That comes to the question I ask to everyone in the Ethical Entrepreneur Interview Series, what is your personal definition of Ethical Business and Ethical Entrepreneur?
Be honest with yourself. Think long term. Don’t cheat as you don’t know how many billions you are lost due to losing that one client. Don’t cheat you employee, give them career and show them future. Don’t cheat your vendor, as they will teach you best practices from their clients and uphold you in bad times.
Don’t cheat as you don’t know how many billions you are about to lose due to losing that one client.
Don’t cheat your employee, give them career and show them future. Don’t cheat your vendor, as they will teach you best practices from their clients and uphold you in bad times.
Don’t cheat your vendor, as they will teach you best practices from their clients and uphold you in bad times.
Pay tax especially so the staff, clients, officials and the society respects you and don’t disturb you.
Q9: Apart from being an intrapreneur, you are impacting the world with social initiatives like – Angels of Marina – an initiative for a clean, green, safe and great Marina beach (Chennai).
And interestingly you have been honoured for helping people from Chennai Floods? Share us about the experience when you did that?
When Franchise India hired me full time, there is no office so I used to park my car in Marina beach (as star hotel coffee shops and coffee days become costlier for my client meetings, as I only eat lot) and call database to fix appointments – cold calls, follow ups, feedback for proposals, negotiation and closing.
During those days I noticed all positive and negatives of the beach and the people. Got irritated. Also when people from HO visits Chennai they ask me to take them to Marina beach. All they see is nonsense and litre. They make fun of us and ask me why you people are like this? Got very very irritated.
When I was having Sundal in the beach I found Gandhi Ji’s saying
“Be the change what you want to see in this world”.
It triggered me to do something to the beach. I was thinking only about that and in my dream, I saw an angle (male) with wings jumping from the sky on the beach and looking at me.
I coined the brand name Angels of Marina and made that Angels and brand logo.
Started small time but as we were giving free T-shirts and certificates for those who clean beaches, got good numbers of volunteers with real passion as well.
As we couldn’t afford to give more free T-shirts we lowered our promotions but when we stopped giving free T-shirts and started selling that the volunteering strength has grown in a multi fold.
Now every week Sunday 7 am our team gathers near Gandhi statue in Marina for regular clean ups. The number goes from 50 to 500.
I got a call from Sam in the night saying that his brother has rescued a family from water in Anna Nagar and made them stay in their house.
Also, he has created a group and put me incharge to moderate the same and extend any support.
We set up a call centre and spread the news they all mediums and word of mouth and guru media as well.
Calls started pouring from all the countries.
I gave them comforting words and asked them to keep all of us in prayers.
Who ever called for help we gave them the best possible advises. People are panicked as there is no network, electricity and internet but God’s grace we had all in our office as well as in the house.
We created a group of volunteers to mobilise hell like boat, lorry, medicine, food, clothes, milk, water and rescue as well.
Next day we got a very bad panic call from Ashok Nagar were a pregnant lady got struck in the first floor.
Water was going till first floor.
When it started getting dark the situation was even worse, as no one expected this will happen in the heart of the city, so they stayed in homes in the balcony and second floors with kids and elders.
No food and the water rising to second floors.
Myself was heading the rescue so with my team we went to Ashok Nagar with ropes and car tubes for rescue. In imaginable Arushi get water every where…we almost rescued 10 people who got stuck in water, first floor and few flats well. It was a life changing experience.
Chennai changed in their attitude!
Q10: Those people who have been reading your long yet very inspiring journey this far should be given an offer, any links or offer coupon I should direct them to?
Yes, please copy – iamethical and paste it by following the link: https://www.messenger.com/t/iamjerinjacob to land in Jerin’s Messenger. His automated chat-bot will ask you some simple questions, after that for selected members I can offer free 1 hour mentoring via phone.
Hope it helps!
Final Thoughts – 12 Tips to Become a Successful and Ethical Entrepreneur
1. Everything happens for a reason and you will realise it at the right season.
2. You can’t decide how and where you want to be born but you can decide how you live and will die.
3. Family and friends are a great strength for any entrepreneur. Even for bootstrapping.
Always you can go back to them as they do it with all their heart.
So cherish your relationship with them but don’t consult or take advice from them as they are worried about you and your failures.
4. You need to consult with a right person for all.
From idea to your problems. Network and discuss with the experts who made it happen.
Even a failed entrepreneur can tell you what he did wrong, so you can avoid it.
5. Give respect to everyone and don’t hurt anyone on your journey, as you don’t know what they become and where you will meet them again.
6. Honesty and loyalty are always the best policy, so be one.
7. Focus, daily improve and give time to taste success or to become an expert.
8. Don’t rush. Enjoy the spike, which will teach you many lessons but tell all that you will rise twice than the fall or the previous one.
9. Read books as they don’t lie.
10. Have faith and believe that there is a greater power operating this universe and try to connect with it.
11. Learn to be lonely as even your wife will fear to travel in that route!
12. Make it happen and be a blessing to inspire more!
Jerin Jacob: Thank you so much Adman for sharing your experiences and insights with us. I am sure you have indeed inspired the readers one way or the other way through out the conversation!
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- How Ethical Entrepreneurs Can Bounce Back Even from the Worst Set Back? (with Kalpesh Patel, London, UK) - 29th October 2017