How a Village Youth Came Looking for a Job in Mumbai and Went On To Build a Rs 250 Crore Turnover Company
In the early 90s, Ankush Asabe decided to leave his job with a contractor in Mumbai and move to Pune to start his own venture, even though he had no capital to build on. Today, he is the director of Venkatesh Buildcon, a 250-crore turnover company based in Pune, and a force to reckon with in the construction industry.
Ankush, born on September 30 1970, hails from a small village in Solapur district, Maharashtra, which had a population of only 3,000 at that time.
His father was a farmer, who had a meagre income since agriculture was not lucrative in the region due to constraints such as water scarcity and lack of good market connectivity.
Thus, after studying in government schools and completing his diploma in civil engineering from Government Polytechnic College, Solapur, he decided to move out.
People from Solapur often migrated to Mumbai, Pune, Nasik and other cities because of the lack of opportunities in the district. “The financial situation of my family did not permit me to study further. So I decided to work in Mumbai to support the family and help my younger brother in his education,” recalls Ankush.
In 1989, he got a job with a contractor in Mumbai with the help of his relatives. He received a meagre salary of Rs 1,500, but the experience he gained there stood him in good stead in the future.
Ankush learnt the tricks of the construction trade quickly. Soon he started doing independent projects as a contractor himself, which gave him some extra income. By 1993, he was earning enough to sustain himself and help his family financially… But he yearned for more.
“I knew my diploma was not enough to get better jobs in the industry and I did not want to be in an average job all my life. I wanted to be like one of the bosses I reported to,” says Ankush, outlining his early ambition.
His passion for achieving what his education would not allow him drove him to Pune in 1993, with the aim to start his own construction company.
“My younger brother had finished his education by then and he was working in Pune. The city was close to Mumbai and was thriving,” says Ankush, explaining why he chose to shift to Pune from Mumbai. “I did not tell my family about my decision as I was earning well in Mumbai, between the job and the contract work, and I felt they might not approve of it. Plus, Maharashtrians have a notion that we cannot do business as well as other communities!”
He took up a job for a year to understand the dynamics of the city’s construction business. He got a salary of Rs 2,800, nearly 70 per cent less than his last salary in Mumbai.
“I had to start from scratch,” remembers Ankush. “There were times when I had to walk for miles and change several buses to reach the work sites. My brother and his friends supported me and kept me motivated during this tough phase.”
After a year, Ankush finally started taking his own contracts in Pune. He continued his job alongside his freelance projects to ensure that his family’s financial needs were looked after and he saved up some amount for the capital to start his own firm.
It was in 1998 that he finally gave up his job and started Venkatesh Buildcon as a 50-50 partnership firm with a friend. They bought a 1.5 acre plot and started their first project as a construction company.
“I had a capital of Rs 4 lakh and raised another Rs 7 lakh from friends and family. They blindly supported my initiative and everything started falling in place,” says Ankush.
From there on, there was no looking back. Ankush married Shubhangi, a civil engineer, soon after his company took off and now has two daughters and a son.
By 2004 Venkatesh became a private limited (the partnership was dissolved midway), and is spearheaded by Ankush and supported by his brother and his wife Shubhangi’s brother Amit Modge, who is currently one of the three directors in the company.
Ankush’s brother, Lahuraj Asabe, is also a director and oversees all construction-related activities. As the founder-director, Ankush oversees strategy, planning and business development.
In 2007, Ankush launched his dream project, Venkatesh Lake Vista, on a 12.5 acre land. It was completed in just 26 months at an investment of Rs 40 crore. This project, at the prime location of Ambegaon, brought Venkatesh’s name to the forefront and it became one among the top construction companies of Pune city.
“The micro-planning was strong and my team worked on a daily plan – we had set daily deliverables and my team did well,” explains Ankush about the landmark success.
Over the years, he has seen both failures and successes. During his partnership with his friend, there were delays in everything due to a lack of internal consensus. “But every time I failed, I was motivated by the fact that however low the earnings, working for myself was much better than any job,” he says.
Always open to feedback, Ankush still studies the business models of various construction groups like Hiranandani, Satish Magar and others, and believes the learning curve never stops.
Currently, Venkatesh has an on-going project near Pune Airport, a 1,200 flat-capacity residential complex with modern amenities and high-end facilities. “To me, ethics have always been more important than the turnover,” says Ankush. “Though we crossed Rs 100 crore after the Lake Vista project; we were determined to expand ethically.”
He is now aiming to triple the current turnover of Rs 250 crore by the year 2022. He wants to expand to other sections of the construction industry: After residential complexes, he is looking at offices, infrastructure and luxury living.
Apart from the construction business, Ankush is currently the President of Maratha Entrepreneurs Association (MEA), a 500-member group for promoting entrepreneurs. MEA is encouraging youngsters to take up business initiatives – they have helped 90 women entrepreneurs from Pune to set-up their own businesses who are now running them successfully.
“A businessman will grow till he has fire in his belly, I will keep trying new things, maybe even failing in the process, but I will keep trying and learning,” signs off Ankush.
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