The Weekend Chef – Ashok Rajpal


Coming from a family that owned a textile store and had worked there since he was 17, Ashok Rajpal went on to launch Ambrane, a food bank brand, with just Rs 10 lakh, buying the parts from China and the selling in India under their own brand name.

Ten years later, Ambrane is now a Rs 115 crore turnover company with its own manufacturing plant and offering a range of electronic items including power banks, headphones, speakers, flash drives, chargers, and even personal care products like clippers and hair dryers.

Ashok Rajpal launched Ambrane Power Banks in 2012 with an investment of Rs 10 lakh (Pictures: Special Arrangement)

Ashok, 41, is from Gohana town in the Sonipat district of Haryana, about 70 km from Delhi, where his father owned a small cloth retail shop.

After completing Class 12 with a score of 59.9% from Haryana Secondary School, Ashok dropped out of school and joined his father’s business.

“I wanted to help my father in his store. The business was running well, but after a few years we moved with our family to Rohtak, a bigger city, and established our store where we also got into wholesale business besides retail business.

Rohtak is about 50 km from Gohana. The family invested Rs 14 lakh in buying a store in the city.

In 1999 the family moved to Delhi for better opportunities. They sold Rohtak’s store for Rs 25 lakh and reinvested it into a 150 square foot store in Chandni Chowk, a popular mall in Delhi.

The shop was called ‘Shree Balaji Textiles’.

“There was a lot of struggle in the business at the start. It was a new market, you had to understand the market and find the right suppliers. However, by 2002 things were more or less settled,” he says -he.

Ashok with his father Hardayal (center) and his brother Sanjay

“My father had a great vision and he always motivated me to go in the right direction. People have been coming to our shop from thousands of miles, from places in Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

“We sourced the fabric and clothing material from Surat and Mumbai and sold them in bulk to retailers.”

Although the business is doing well, the father-son duo has taken steps to increase its profitability and the added value of its products. They employed contract tailors who made clothes fashionable through embroidery.

This meant that the clothes they offered were exclusive products and were not available anywhere else on the market.

Meanwhile, Ashok’s younger brother, Sanjay, got his B Com from Delhi University and joined the company in 2003. A year later, he opened a separate parts and accessories store. computer accessories at Nehru Place, New Delhi, with a friend.

In 2009-10, Shree Balaji Textiles, which was a sole proprietorship in his father’s name, had a turnover of around Rs 12 crore.

But Ashok noticed that the textile industry market was moving towards ready-to-wear. Since they were in the fabric business, their business was hit and Ashok started exploring other options with his brother Sanjay.

“I thought about starting a new business and explored real estate, but didn’t like it. One cannot run the real estate business market (as you wish). You have to wait and watch to buy or sell a property,” he recalled, sharing his predicament in 2012.

Ashok first encountered food banks during his visit to China in 2012

“We were looking to diversify anyway, and I went to China on a business trip to understand the market trends there.

“I noticed power banks (for the first time), portable devices to charge phones. I bought some samples and brought them to India.

In India, while charging his phone with the power bank while taking the subway, a co-passenger inquired about the product.

After learning of its usefulness, the man recounted an incident where he had to break the lock on his own house to get in because family members had left for a wedding. He couldn’t communicate with them because his phone had run out of charge.

It was then that Ashok realized that there was a market for power banks in the country. Ambrane India Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2012 and purchased 2,000 power banks from China and sold them through Shopclues, an e-commerce portal.

“The pieces were sold out within a month,” says Ashok. They placed orders for more parts from China, which were exclusively made for Ambrane using Samsung batteries.

Soon the brothers added more products under the Ambrane brand and started selling keyboards and tablets as well as power banks. They were selling both online and in physical outlets.

“In 2014, we realized that we could manufacture power banks in India itself instead of importing them from China,” Ashok explains. They installed a unit in a rented space in Wazirpur, on the outskirts of Delhi

“We invested Rs 2 crore to set up the unit and purchased batteries directly from Samsung (Malaysia) and LG (South Korea).” The prices of the power banks ranged between Rs 999 and Rs 2499 depending on the mAh of the batteries.

Ambrane has grown into a team of over 400 employees

They sold around 25,000 pieces each month and had a turnover of Rs 30 crore in 2014-15.

“India suddenly saw a surge in demand for power banks, especially after the government made BIS certification mandatory for products. This squeezed out all the smaller and unethical players in the market,” says Ashok.

“We were already doing clean business, but the gray market was wiped out. As a result, our business flourished.

“Today, we make power banks, chargers, USB drives, and audio products like headphones, neckbands, TWS (True Wireless Stereo Earphones), soundbars, as well as clippers. , grooming kits and hair dryers We will soon be launching our smartwatch.

Ambrane USB cables are priced at Rs 100 and their most expensive product is the soundbar at Rs 8000. Their products are available on e-commerce portals as well as retail outlets across the country.

The brothers plan to expand and will move to their new manufacturing unit, a 90,000 square foot factory in Kondli, on the outskirts of Delhi.

On a personal level, Ashok likes to visit a park every morning and does yoga regularly. He also likes gardening. Other than that, work is his only passion.

Ashok does his yoga exercises every morning

Ashok’s wife, Hunny Rani, is a housewife. She had worked at Ambrane for two years and could join the company once the children are a bit settled.

The couple have two children; a 16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son.

Ashok and Sanjay live in Pitampura, Delhi, in separate houses close to each other.


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