“Tu beer hai ben****”, a dialogue from the 2015 TVF series ‘The Pitchers’ is a rather substandard remark, yet the most accepted and worshipped motivational quote for Indian entrepreneurs since 2015. Hundreds of young Turks might have left their 9 to 5 desk slavery to jump into the vast ocean called Startup. Some even with zero corporate experience and backing moved in with the sheer dedication and will of “ Apna khud ka Kuch shuru Karna Hain Bhai ”.
One such entrepreneur is Abhishek Pal, the pride of Barak and Karimganj, who has earned the right to be mentioned one day as one of the most influential personalities from Barak Valley.
A Mechanical Engineering pass-out from the prestigious Assam Engineering College, Abhishek Pal, a talented and proficient lad from Karimganj started ‘Flashbloom’ in 2019. An Industry dedicated to FMCG products, which is a perfect template for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Last month, sparing some time from his hectic schedule at 1 in the morning, Abishek pal interacted with the correspondent from Cachar Chronicles. The interaction is being presented in the form of an interview below.
CC– What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Abhishek– Born and brought up in Karimganj, I always had a fascination for brands and products. I used to look at the back of every FMCG packets and look out their place of origin from where they were being manufactured and imported. This childish act always gave me a sense of joyfulness but at the same time had dejected me for not seeing a single product born out of Barak valley. This motivated me a lot since childhood to create something for and from Barak valley which everyone could feel proud of. And a college project of my senior acted as a catalyst in my life and convinced me not to follow the path of a 9 to 5 duck but to become a free bird of entrepreneurship.
CC– You mentioned that a college project of your senior acted as a catalyst. What is the story and how did it help you to become an entrepreneur?
Abhishek– Back in the year 2015 when I was in the 4th semester of my B.tech, I had a flatmate who was also my college senior Subhendu Bikash Roy of Silchar. He was a class topper and together we were learning a lot of technical things and we had a great bonding and understanding for each other. For his final year project, Subhendu developed a chemical material which can absorb the dirt in the water and make it cleaner.
So one fine day my filter broke and I went to his room to fetch some water for drinking and asked him if his material can also filter drinking water. It struck him and he started researching on the said topic. Together we did a couple of researches and discovered that filtration is possible. So we immediately rang the bell of our passed out and established seniors to make a few connections. The hard work paid off and we got an opportunity to go to IIE (Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship), Guwahati to get some guidance from some influential leaders from this field and also to test our product at the testing centre of Public Health Department. The result of the trail was astonishing and we are adamant to do something out of it and take it to the next level. From there the bug of entrepreneurship bit me practically.
But things didn’t work out as planned. Both of us became very busy with academic activities and in 2016 Subhendu landed a job. Eventually, the idea remained trapped in our pipeline and it has not seen the light of a company.
CC– So what happened with your filtration product? Is it long forgotten?
Abhishek– No. Currently, we have patented our product with a Switzerland based company on lease and they are working on it.
CC– How did the idea of Flashbloom conceive in your mind?
Abhishek– Right after my graduation I appeared for the GATE examination as I wanted a career in the Mechanical Engineering domain but unfortunately or maybe, fortunately, I couldn’t make it. I was in a dilemma about to go for masters or just land any private job. Then Subhendu suggested me that “despite going for masters or private firm job you should spend your energy on something that you are interested in”. Subhendu was in touch with a scientist who helped by sharing some formulation to help him out with a new product. He tasted it in a lab failed many times but after many trials, a successful result popped out which gave birth to Flashbloom.
The Product finally saw the light in 2019 and in September of last year we officially launched an FMCG industry ‘Flashbloom’ in Silchar. The idea was to do something for our home town for Barak Valley. Hence the love of the soil motivated me in risking my career and starting Flashbloom to generate employment in the valley to bring industrial culture in the valley. Reliance has Jamnagar, Tata has Jamshedpur then why can’t we have something in our Barak Valley?
CC– So what is Flashbloom and what you people do exactly?
Abhishek– We are an FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) company based in Silchar’s Ashram Road. We make products that are very necessary daily such as Perfume floor cleaning, dishwasher, tiles cleaner and toilet cleaner. The industry is here but our R&D is in Karnataka. Subhedu looks after the R&D and his brother Satyajit and I look after the operations, logistics and management and sales. Till now we have supplied our products to Cachar Cancer Hospitals, Pc Hridayalaya, Red Cross Hospital and various retailers in Silchar, Karimganj and Hailakandi and also to Manipur and Mizoram. Our products are used in the Guwahati Airport as well.
CC– How did you manage the funding for Flashbloom
Abhishek– Our family and friends helped us a lot for funding. We had some savings too and with this, we launched the industry. And in February of 2020, our product was selected in the Assam Incubation with 25 other startups from Assam and by February or March of 2021, we are expecting a non-refundable fund from the Govt of Assam which will help us a lot in scaling up our company.
CC– Success doesn’t come without failure. What were the problems you faced while starting up?
Abhishek– We had seen a lot of failures in the beginning days. The funding was an issue location was another but the biggest problem was the wholesalers and distributors. We started with just one single product of floor cleaner but many retailers and distributors of the valley rejected us saying that no one will buy a product coming out of Barak Valley. They said our packaging was not up to the mark and we faced a lot of other rejections but we never left hope and were sticking to it. Finally, after learning some lessons from failure, we came up with good packaging and in the first few months our sales numbers were great and the people of the valley were loving our products. And we went to export to other parts of the North East as well.
An admirer of the central government’s Startup policy and the latest Education policy, Abhishek is a firm believer that to create an entrepreneur we need to start it from the grass-root level that the present NEP will deal with. An environment as such will create more and more startups and eventually, we will beat China in their own game, said Abhishek.
“My family never supported my decision of starting Flashbloom but now after getting some success my family has developed the confidence on me and now I have their full support. Hence my message to future young entrepreneurs of the valley is that never let go of your dream and never hesitate to work hard or taking any risk for your dream. Because your hard work will pay you the sweetness of success very soon. Just believe in your dream and work hard and go for it without fearing about failure.”
Cachar Chronicles wishes Abhishek pal and his co-founder and mentor Satyajit Roy and Subhendu Bikash Roy and the entire team of Flashbloom Industry all the very best for their future endeavours. May he be a true example for other entrepreneurs from Barak Valley.