Success Story: Food King CEO – Sarathbabu ElumalaiAnisha Mukhija
Entrepreneur. Social Worker. Politician.
Powerful Words. Attributing these words to just one person would make a person seem pretty inspiring to others. And inspiring you is what this article aims to achieve.
Let’s get to know the man.
Sarathbabu Elumalai was born and brought up in Madipakkam, a slum in Chennai. Living with his mother and 4 siblings, he saw that it was difficult for his mother to feed the family with a meagre salary. Since she wasn’t a graduate, she had to do three different jobs a day to ensure that she could feed everybody and get them educated at the same time. Sarathbabu used to help his mother sell idlis in the slums. Observing the hard work and determination of his mother, Sarathbabu was determined to make sure that her hard work wasn’t in vain. Sarathbabu was a topper in his school. And this trend eventually continued in further grades as well. For Sarathbabu, there were no elaborate dreams or plans for the future. For him and his family, their only focus was to make sure that enough money was there for the next meal.
Standard 10 was important to a young Sarathbabu as he had scored good grades. To advance to further standards, the fee was high and Sarathbabu used to bind books in the vacations to make up for the fees. In times of heavy workloads, he used to employ 15-20 children and would finish the work with them. This is how he first gained the experience of being an entrepreneur. Eventually Sarathbabu did his engineering from BITS Pilani and there, he found himself with students from the middle and upper class. Not being very well-versed in English, he chose to observe silently and focused on his studies. In the college, he was selected for the post of Co-ordinator. Observing his work and his skills, his friends encouraged him to become a manager. He then found out about IIMs and decided to join them. Sarathbabu got placed in Polaris and attempted the CAT, which he did not clear in the first attempt. He then worked for 30 months in Polaris in order to pay his debts. He then attempted the CAT and finally entered IIM Ahmedabad.
Sarathbabu successfully completed his MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. During his life at IIM Ahmedabad, he was selected for the position of secretary of the Hostel Mess. This role gave Sarathbabu tremendous experience in managing an institution that dealt with making food. Post his life in IIM, Sarathbabu decided to finally open his own company, a catering service called FoodKing, with a capital of 1 lakh rupees. As of 2011, Foodking had 6 centres all around the country with an annual turnover of ₹ 80 million.
In 2009, he contested elections as an independent.
In 2010, Sarathbabu began an initiative to feed poor people, called Hunger Free India.
In 2015, he planned to join a major political party after being inspired to get his state rid off of hunger and starvation.
There you go! Someone who has seen his family living on ₹ 1 per day is now in a position to think and implement policies that are built around eliminating hunger among the poor.
A person who used to sell idlis in slums, worked day and night, not to achieve any dream, but to survive and build an income for his family. And by following this, he found himself in one of the most prestigious institutes in the country.
This is just one example of how hard work can lead a person to new heights.