Karsanbhai Patel, the man behind “sabki pasand Nirma”
Do you still remember the 1990’s famous jingle ‘washing powder Nirma’? It would be surprising to know that the millennial generation isn’t aware of the iconic detergent brand that ruled every household early in its teens. The catchy lyrics jingle and a young girl in a spotless white frock in a Nirma commercial advertisement had been a symbol of ‘Safedi’ for years. Very often we come across stories that touch our hearts to the deepest corners of love. One such story is of Karsanbhai Patel, the man behind “sabki pasand Nirma”, who first introduced the world to the washing powder Nirma.
Though his brand has now become the synonym for every detergent powder in India, his story remains hidden under the dust of fame. The journey from backyard businessman to becoming the corporate legend, his story is worth remembering.
The Story of Karsanbhai Patel
Karsanbhai Patel is an Indian multi-billionaire born in 1945 in Ruppur Gujarat. By the age of 21, he completed his B.Sc. in Chemistry and started his first job as a lab technician in a Cotton Mill of Ahmedabad. The year 1969 proved to be a turning point in his life. Bored by working for someone else, Patel took a chance of starting his own business. He tried mixing Soda Ash with other ingredients and got the formula for a detergent powder. Daily after his office hours, he would produce detergents in the 100sq ft backyard of his home.
At first, he would go door to door selling the product on his bike, but earning very few. At the price of just Rs.3 per kilogram, his business soon started to boom and his detergent became an overnight success. He named the product Nirma, after his late daughter Nirupama. After three years of doing it as a side business, Karsanbhai Patel took the risk and quit his job to start working full-time on his business. Through his rigorous hard work, Nirma established its name in Gujarat and Ahmadabad. One fact that raised his business to the next level was that the only detergent brand India had during those days was Hindustan Lever, priced around Rs. 13 per kg. Thus, being a cheap alternative and an eco-friendly product, Nirma was widely accepted.
The detergent gained a widespread after he decided to launch an advertisement in order to promote Nirma outside Gujarat. With a housewife-friendly jingle advertisement released “sabki pasand Nirma”, the product received a huge acceptance. The demand went sky high and the Karsanbhai was forced to double the production.
The product was especially close to Karsanbhai Patel because he named it after his late daughter Nirupama who died in a car accident. He also put her illustration on the packet cover as well as advertisements to make sure the world remembers her. Along with this, he founded the Nirma Institute of Technology in Ahmedabad in the year 1995. The entire structure entire was consolidated under the Nirma University of Science and Technology in 2003. Along with the detergent, h also launched toilet soaps, beauty soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste. Overall the company has a 20% market share in soaps and 30% in detergent.
The Recognition of Karsanbhai Patel
In the year 2009, Karsanbhai Patel was ranked #92 by Forbes for India’s richest men. He also conferred Padma Shri Award in the year 2010. In the year 2013, he bought his first private six-seater chopper worth 40 crores. In 2019, Karsanbhai was ranked #30 by Forbes magazine for the list of India’s richest persons ($3.9 billion).
Karsanbhai’s son and daughter-in-laws are now leading the Nirma group. Rakesh K Patel (MBA) looks after procurement and logistics, Hiren K Patel, a chemical engineer, and MBA, heads marketing and finance, while Kalpesh Patel is in the human resources and Healthcare Industry (Nirlife healthcare).
With his sheer brilliance and hard work, Karsanbhai Patel today is recognized as a legend in the entrepreneurial fraternity. In all these years of the limelight, Patel has managed to keep outside the world of fame and well as politics. With the Lafarge deal, Patel is experimenting his luck in the world of cement. With time we’ll see Nirma shining in the extreme corners of the world. In his efforts to give India its own homegrown detergent brand, Patel’s product has today has in fact become “sabki pasand”.