CHENNAI : E Udaya Kumar, first-generation entrepreneur, grew up in a village near Kanchipuram. After graduating in Chemistry, he pursued a Masters degree in Political Science. Soon, he ventured into journalism and worked in Capital Business Post, a share market magazine, and then for Sun TV. He always aspired to be an entrepreneur. “I loved the freedom of business, and I had the confidence to do it too,” he says. His first venture was Builder’s Line, a monthly Tamil magazine started in 2000, which brings out all the latest building and construction industry innovations in a vernacular magazine. Two years later, he started Prompt Trade Fairs, which has so far organised 400 exhibitions in Southern India. We catch up with the MD as he shares his journey in the business world.
There is no direct relation between what you studied and what you do.
Yes, I faced a lot of challenges, initially. I had no idea about business and learned only through my every day struggles. My wife, Chandra, joined me in my ventures, she takes care of accounts and finance.
Why did you change plans — from journalism to trade fairs?
Journalism is becoming harder to make a business out of. The amount of competition is immense. These days, anyone who has a Facebook account is a journalist. There are many challenges in the journalism industry. So I wanted to diversify from that and started Prompt Trade Fairs.
What are the challenges you face in business?
Manpower, government, fluctuating market. Patience is key when it comes to business, and that’s why I plan new business ventures slowly. After Prompt Trade Fairs, we are now coming up with a new business idea called ‘Hot Kadai’, wherein we plan to start exhibitions in showrooms itself. It will launch soon.
How do you manage work-life balance?
It’s all quite mixed up, to be honest. Since my wife works here, we are essentially together all the time. I come to the office at 10 am, and leave at 8 pm, and when we get home we immediately switch to home mode.
What are your other hobbies?
I’m an active member of the Rotary. I’m the district polio chairman, working on eradicating the disease. Apart from that, we tend to catch a movie every weekend to unwind.
Tell us about your travels.
I mostly travel for work. We make it a point to travel yearly once for leisure. So far we’ve been around Europe and South-East Asian countries like Hong Kong, China etc. But no matter where we go, I prefer India. If we want a break from city life, we go to our village near Kanchipuram where we have a farmhouse, and many trees.
Advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?
There have been so many policy changes in the past two-three years. It’s more challenging now to make your own business stand, than before. It’s better to think about what business will work in the current times, instead of going with what business you want to do.