CHENNAI: A dreamer from a family which has no business background, Praveen Antony, founder and MD of Chettinese, a chain of restaurants, always knew deep inside that he was destined to do greater things than working in a bank, juggling numbers and accounts.
“Even though I did my engineering in software and the usual MBA after that, my parents and friends had this intuition that I was not going to settle down with that. So they were not surprised when I told them of my plans,” says Praveen.
CE catches up with the young entrepreneur who now owns seven restaurants, including a theme based restaurant called ‘Haunted’, to talk about his hobbies, failures, things he misses and more. Excerpts follow...
How are you connected to namma Chennai?
I came to Chennai in 2009 for my MBA course. I am from Trichy and my family is still in Trichy. After I came here, I fell in love.. with the city. So, I never went back.
Let’s start with the basic stuff, when did it begin?
I got the idea four years back, in 2013. More than framing it as an idea, I would call it a coincidence. The only constant thing in my life until I met Prasanna in college, was the thirst to become an entrepreneur. But I didn’t have a proper vision on which business to bet on. Then, through a friend, I heard about a deal to take over a biriyani outlet on Nelson Manickam Road and it felt right to me. There I learned a lot about this business and that’s how it all began.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I am a bit boring since I breathe business, especially now, since we are planning to expand to 10 more outlets by franchising it. That being said, I am a movie buff. I watch mainly Tamil movies, most of them, the first day, first show. And I read a lot of books, mainly autobiographies of successful business entrepreneurs.
So who is your favourite actor?
Siva Karthikeyan. Firstly, I like his acting. Secondly, He is an engineer like me and last but not the least, he is also from Trichy, just like me (laughs).
Have you faced any failures before?
Yes of course. Before Chettinese, I started off a small e-commerce space with my friend, an online supermarket-like website. We took a hit because we didn’t think it through. It was similar to today’s Big Basket. So, before our capital completely drained away, we pulled out. I was 25 then.
When you started the business, who did you look up to?
I strongly admire M Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisines because I found his story similar to mine. He too did not have a business background. Also, Chandramohan of Arun Ice Creams. Another brand that fascinates me even now is the Thalapakkatti chain
Are you a good boss or a tough one?
I have to be tough for this kind of industry. But, we have a standard structure of ladder climbing criteria implemented here. We have even made a dishwasher, a chef. The only thing they have to do is to
Do you like to see the world?
I travel a lot, but it is mostly business based. I recently realised the relevance of travelling, thanks to my friends. You can call me a beginner in that field. But, I have planned an extensive trip. My initial goal is to travel across India, and i wish to start from Gokarna.
Is there anything you miss about your life before you became an entrepreneur?
I miss my time. By that, I did not mean that I am not getting personal space, but I can’t dedicate time to myself regularly since I have to be available for my clients all through the day.