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No stretch is difficult enough for him whether it is in yoga or business; the man who can easily give a sermon in strategy to the biggest marketer, that’s Baba Ramdev for you. He shares more in an exclusive chat with Entrepreneur.
How it all started?
I never intended to start this. For good health people need good products and for making them you need a manufacturing unit, you need camps for good health, I did what I felt is good for the society. We first started with ayurvedic medicines. Our two basic services are yog and ayurveda. Earlier we used to prescribe ayurvedic medicines of other companies which were costly. Our medicines are 50 to 100% cheaper than other medicines. We always believed in providing good quality products at low prices. The demand of products started increasing and initially we started it as an alternate.
What was the first product?
Initial products were Aushadhi, which were quite a many. The pharmacy was started in 1995, in the same year we built the trust. We made ayurvedic medicines available at reasonable prices. Till today, the
Pharmacy belongs to the trust.
What led to the Swadeshi Movement?
We started swadeshi movement long back. All the Indian freedom fighters and revolutionaries like Mahatma Gandhi propagated swadeshi. I read about all of them. Indian money should stay in India. I never used any foreign products. In villages you hardly get any. I never used any soap in my childhood. People demanded so we made the products available. We never forced our products on them.
How did you become a yoga teacher?
For five years I taught Sanskrit and the Vedas. I never thought about becoming a yoga teacher. I went to
Gangotri after studying in Gurukul. Some people started coming to me saying they wanted to learn yoga. Initially I had two students – Yogesh Gupta and one Bansal. Both were junior engineers in Haridwar development authority. The word spread that there is an educated yogi. Then few more people started coming. Once a gujarati named Jivaraj Bhai Patel came almost 23 years back. He asked me to set up a yoga camp. I never knew how to do it. There was no banner or poster and I started teaching yoga there. Middle class and upper middle class people started coming there. Lower class believed in me.
People say you cater to a certain class.
Lower class connects with us as I belong to a village and come from an ordinary family. So people started connecting with us. Whether it is yoga or our products, middle and upper class all follow us. Amitabh Bachchan learnt yoga from me. All top hero-heroines have come to me during yoga shivir. People from all industries, top celebrities, top businessmen, scientists, doctors, engineers come to me.
Any management mantras you follow?
I never made any strategy or planned anything. I follow the country’s rules and regulations, not of the market. I follow no marketing strategy. I never realized when I became successful. People started saying that I have crores of people following me. They made me a yoga guru. I just kept on doing my work. I don’t know where it will lead me. If you ask me I don’t have an answer where will Patanjali be after five years. I never did anything fancy, it was all simple, never created any barriers. I never proclaimed myself as a Guru, people declared me as a guru. I never projected myself as a yoga guru. There was no image building.
Then what clicked with the masses?
I taught yoga in a layman’s language. I connected with the common man. Told them how yoga can be beneficial for health.
What’s wrong with foreign brands?
Why do Indians work for foreign brands? Why don’t they create their own brands? In next five years I will create that passion in every Indian to create his/her own Indian brand. Patanjali is growing at the rate of 150%. Next year our growth will be 200%. We will maintain this for next five years.
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (May 2016 Issue).