Contrary to popular notions, it is not easy to carry forward a family business all the while ensuring enhanced growth and continued sustainability. Lisa Suwal, the CEO of Prasuma, a pioneer in deli meats and cold cuts, certainly knows how to beef up her family business and has made the cut. Hailing from the family of leading meat purveyors in the country — Prasuma — and having grown up in a family involved in delicatessen business for over 30 years, she has always been exposed to the nitty-gritty of the business and the art of making good food. The challenges to remain competitive as a business through the ups and downs of economic cycles are tough and she states, “It wasn’t the easiest process to transition to a family business.”
A graduate from Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune, Lisa’s first few years were spent as a research associate when she had duties such as conceptualising the retail strategy and recommending brand mix. She was also responsible for market sizing and brand analysis of a leading beverages brand. She then spent the next five years working for a leading cosmetics brand, where she got the chance to launch a fast-growing makeup brand. All these shaped her understanding of the consumer market. On her transition to the family business, Lisa says, “Coming from a corporate setup where teams assist you even for the smallest requirements, here the ball is in your court with regard to everything you do. It’s all about prioritisation here and it is highly essential to choose things that have the highest impact!”
The unorganised meat industry in India with it’s demand for fresh meat, but lack of quality options for consumers is what Lisa chose to address. She informs that the fresh meat industry in India is worth $ 31 billion with 90 per cent of the industry in unorganised sectors comprising butcher shops. “However, by 2022 the meat industry in India will double to $ 65 billion largely driven by the rising Indian middle class.”
The debate of fresh meat versus frozen meat is a pertinent one. “Over the last few years, consumers have been warming up to fresh cold cuts and sausages as compared to frozen meat. This is primarily because of the availability of tastier and nutritious fresh cold cuts which are sold chilled. Conventional grocers are also adopting dedicated charcuterie counters which are stocked with fresh cold cuts. Customers are willing to pay for high quality ingredients and are also particular about finding out how animals, whose meat is being bought, have been raised.” Lisa is looking forward to launching new categories.
Moving on from the heavy meat industry to the simpler aspects of life, Lisa loves to curl up with a good book. “My favourite book is Mindset by Carol Dwek that highlights the fact that simple ideas can make all the difference.” She also loves binge-watching Netflix series. A very passionate traveller, her favourite destination has always been Maldives. “It’s a diver’s heaven. Every trip there has been a very different experience,” she gushes. Incidentally, Lisa is an expert diver.
Ask her about her advice to fellow entrepreneurs and she says, “Always have a holistic approach to everything you do. An idea is just as good as the execution you have planned. Look at everything from the financing, budgeting, team hiring, marketing and operations. Just a great idea might give you a head start, but execution and planning for long-term sustainability is key.”
Before Lisa winds up, she shares the mantra she lives by, “Have a growth-oriented mindset, be curious and always be open to learning new things.”...