Harish Damodaran’s ‘Broke to Breakthrough: The Rise of India’s Largest Private Dairy Company’ announced as the winner of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize 2022

Gaja Capital

India, January 17, 2023 – Broke to Breakthrough: The Rise of India’s Largest Private Dairy Company, a detailed and perceptive account of the rise of Hatsun Agro and its founder RG Chandramogan, has been announced as the winner of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize 2022. This is the story of Hatsun Agro starting from its humble origins of selling ice creams in pushcarts in Tamil Nadu in the 1970s and growing to a publicly listed company generating more than INR 6000Cr in revenue.

The winner was selected from a diverse and compelling shortlist of five books, showcasing the vibrant Indian business ecosystem. Instituted in 2019 by Gaja Capital, a leading private equity firm, the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize aims to encourage Indian entrepreneurs, writers, and journalists to tell their stories to the world. It offers the largest book prize in the country, INR 15 lakh in prize money, to reward and support authors and promote high-caliber business research that would encourage and equip upcoming business owners and young entrepreneurs.

While announcing the winner, Gopal Jain, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Gaja Capital said, The 2022 shortlist covered a wide array of stories of some of the special women and men from diverse backgrounds who, through their hard work, enterprise and risk-taking, have created tremendous wealth and employment, and will leave behind an enduring legacy of strong, globally competitive businesses. These books are excellent stories of Indian entrepreneurship and enterprise. Each one is a winner, and it wasn’t easy to pick one. Harish Damodaran’s book is an exemplary Bharat story of entrepreneurship, and we hope stories like this help inspire the next wave of thousands of budding entrepreneurs from all across and within India to constantly emerge, grow, innovate and excel”.

The jury for the fourth edition comprised stalwarts from the worlds of industry, investments, academia, public policy, and governance: Manish Sabharwal, Vice-Chairman TeamLease (Chairman, Jury), Imran Jafar, Managing Partner & Co-founder of Gaja Capital, Dr. Lakshmi Venu, MD of Sundaram-Clayton Ltd (SCL), Michael Queen, Former Chief Executive of 3i (British Multinational PE fund), Prithvi Haldea, Founder Chairman of Praxis Consulting (Prime Database), Neelkanth Mishra, Managing Director and Head of Equity Strategy, Asia Pacific for Credit Suisse, Shailesh Haribhakti, Founder and Managing Partner of Shailesh Haribhakti & Associates Chartered Accountants and Upendra Kumar Sinha, Former Head, RBI Expert Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The other books from the 2022 shortlist consisted of a range of stories of enterprises and their protagonists including:

● Ambuja Story: How a Group of Ordinary Men Created an Extraordinary Company (by Narotam Sekhsaria)

● Disrupt and Conquer: How TTK Prestige Became a Billion Dollar Company (by T.T. Jagannathan and Sandhya Mendonca)

● Harsh Realities: The Making of Marico (by Harsh Mariwala and Ram Charan)

● Maverick Effect: The Inside Story of India’s IT Revolution (by Harish Mehta)

Jury Citation

“Broke to Breakthrough” is the inspiring and moving journey of a pioneering first-generation Indian entrepreneur. Necessity is the mother of invention. And a necessity driven by both personal circumstance and an industry with strong incumbents spurred Mr. Chandramogan to create an enterprise that has innovated in every part of its business from cattle breeding and fodder to commercials and marketing.   

Mr. Chandramogan’s ability to constantly try, fail, learn, pivot and scale successes is both instructive and inspirational for every entrepreneur at any stage in their journey. For a young India that is bursting with ambition, this journey of endurance and integrity combined with vision and agility is a must-read in today’s VUCA world.

About the book

The book is a business biography of Hatsun Agro and its founder R.G. Chandramogan. Hailing from Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu, Chandramogan started this venture in 1970 as a twenty-one-year-old, making ice candies with three people in a 250 sq. ft. rented place and selling in pushcarts under the Arun brand. Arun Ice-cream targeted smaller towns and urban centers outside of Chennai, servicing the aspirational customer sector, while other businesses concentrated on larger markets with higher populations. 

The author has made an effort to get into details behind the numbers to explain the business model and how it evolved including aspects such as taxes, working capital and supply chain management. The book encompasses the journey from its earliest days to now employing 50,000 people, touching the lives of 4 lakh farmers and millions of consumers. The journey has its fair share of successes and failures with lessons on the importance of frugality, brand building, product building, strategy and execution. 

About Harish Damodaran:

Harish Damodaran is the national rural affairs and agriculture editor for The Indian Express. His nearly 30 years of experience in journalism reflects in this book, which showcases the native spirit of local Indian entrepreneurship. He is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at CPR. As a journalist he has worked as a field reporter and editorial analyst with the Press Trust of India, The Hindu Business Line and The Indian Express. His work and areas of interest include the farm sector, macroeconomics, business and social history. 

About Gaja Capital

One of India’s premier mid-market focused private equity firms, Gaja Capital provides growth capital to ambitious entrepreneurs to build the future champions of the Indian economy. Through its specific, methodical, and consistent investment strategy, Gaja has an established track record of delivering strong performance since inception and has positioned itself as a partner of choice for emerging companies and leading global investors in India. Gaja Capital was founded in 2004 by Gopal Jain, Ranjit Shah, and Imran Jafar —a group of seasoned indigenous professionals with an established track record of investing and operational management in India. The high caliber of leadership, investment, and operating expertise within Gaja’s core team has enabled it to deliver tangible value beyond capital to the entrepreneurs it has invested in. 

About the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize:

The Gaja Capital Business Book Prize was established in 2019 and has a purse of Rs 15 lakh for the winner. It honours authors and their works which celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship. In its inaugural year, the prize was won by Girish Kuber and Vikrant Pande for their book The Tatas: How a Family Built a Business and a Nation. The 2nd edition of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize was awarded to Mihir Dalal’s Big Billion Startup: The Untold Flipkart Story and the 3rd edition was awarded to Amrit Raj’s Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield.

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