IndiCold CEO Kartik Jalan sharing all his experience of cold storage industry in
After the green revolution, we are now ushering the evergreen revolution in our country. In the last few decades, India has seen a dramatic increase in the production of perishable products including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, dairy, and many more. This has led to an increased focus on food preservation techniques like cold storage facilities. As the market seems to expand exponentially in the coming future, entrepreneurs have started to delve into this very business. One such person is Kartik Jalan, CEO of IndiCold, who is able to carve out a successful path in the very early stages of his business.
Journey from being a Software Engineer to owning cold storage facilities
Before starting his business endeavors, he was working as a Software engineer for a couple of years in Pune. Along with this, he also worked as a door-to-door salesman on holidays for a company. This gave him the confidence to work outside his comfort zone. Meanwhile, he got a chance to meet Mr. Rajinder Garg, his mentor, for the initial years of the business, who showed his own cold storage facilities and was very positive about the industry’s high performance in the near future. It was his first introduction to the cold storage business.
“It took more than a year to set the cold storage facility for the first time”
says Kartik Jalan
With support from his friends and family, Kartik and his cousins started a business named KACS in 2013. Over the years, the Proof of Concept – “Technology-enabled cold chain aggregator” implemented at KACS has transformed into a movement called INDICOLD. The aim of this newly incorporated company is to create a win-win platform for the cold chain entrepreneurs to collaborate and function together.
“To start a business that is entrepreneurial in nature, you must have the concept in mind, be passionate about your idea and have a macro-level understanding of financials. You should start immediately. The moment you overthink, you would end up doing nothing”
advises Kartik Jalan from his experience
Birth of IndiCold
During the initial days at KACS, it took a lot of time to onboard clients. The reason is that clients asked for an already established network of the cold storage facilities for storing their produce across pan-India. To solve this problem, KACS started visiting a lot of cold storage owners operating in the areas of Maharashtra, U.P., Delhi aiming to form a network but they had to face disappointment.
This gave the idea to start aggregating cold storages under their own brand name “INDICOLD” and they started acting as a mediator between clients and cold storage owners. This gave them an opportunity to utilize excess capacities which were under-utilized and provide location and cost advantage to their clients. This way the company’s idea of “Technology-enabled cold storage aggregation” saw its first few years from 2017 -19.
“It is a next-gen cold chain movement which has national and global ambitions to transform the way an entrepreneur dreams and imagines cold chain as an enabler for his business”
says Kartik Jalan
INDICOLD from its inception has a Pan-India presence with nearly 22 storage locations on its network for cold, frozen and dry storage of pharmaceutical and food products. The net turnover of the company is 13.2 crores in 2018-19.
IndiCold CEO Kartik Jalan on building team
“If you have the right team in place, you can achieve huge success”
says Kartik Jalan
Building the team has been the biggest challenge for INDICOLD. In order to onboard talent with the right skill and passion, they have started an internship program. This program helps them to monitor and on-board the right talent for them. Currently, around 175 students are working with them.
“Getting the right talent on-board and making a team is a journey which is still on, it will take time”
shares Kartik Jalan from his experience
IndiCold CEO Kartik Jalan on onboarding first client
It took a great deal of time to onboard their first client. They started reaching out to clients in 2013 and was only able to get their first client in 2015. After onboarding, they helped their clients to grow their capacity from 600 to 13000 metric tons within a span of 18 months. With time, they have built more infrastructure, have gained more experience and technical aptitude for the business. Thus, they are able to reduce this time to 7-8 months now.
“We do not ask for business these days, we ask for partnerships as it is a trust-based business”
says Kartik Jalan
IndiCold CEO Kartik Jalan on onboarding investors
KACS was started as a family business. The money required to set the initial business was collected with the help of family and friends. In the later stage, they took the loan from the bank to build more infrastructure. INDICOLD believes there is a lot of opportunity in the domain and is looking for investment to build model logistics experience centers, to build a great team, to develop custom technology, to enable aggregation and processes, to develop new technologies and do POC of technologies which have not been tried in India till now in the cold chain space.
IndiCold CEO Kartik Jalan on government schemes
There is a lot of government schemes available but one should set the business in such a way that they are able to recover the working capital and make it sustainable. Subsidies should be treated as an added bonus if received.
“If one depends on the subsidies to ensure ROI, it is the wrong business model to follow”
recalls Kartik Jalan from his experience
Future plans for IndiCold
“There is a shortage of professionally run cold storage, there is no shortage of cold storages in the market”
says Kartik Jalan from his past 8 years of experience
Keeping this in mind, they are planning to focus more on the aggregation business for the coming years. Also, as it only takes 5-8 months to set up a cold storage facility depending on clearance and location factors, there is enough time to build them whenever the need arises. In the challenging COVID 19 times, they are focusing to make and execute plans for the next quarter only.
Advice from IndiCold CEO
Once you start, you will be able to figure out solutions to achieve all difficulties. But it is always important to achieve a balance between working time and the thinking time. The thinking time will help to figure out the weaknesses and improve the organization’s functioning. The thinking time needs to increase as your organization grows.
Kartik Jalan Interview
Stay tuned for the video.