MAN BEHIND HUGELY
• JOURNEY TOWARD ENTREPRENEURSHIP
• CONTRIBUTION IN ECONOMY
Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel (K.K. Patel,
1945)came from a humble farmer family
from Mehsana, Gujarat.
He is the founder of the Rs. 3550
crore Nirma group with major interests in
detergents, soaps and cosmetics.
He completed Bsc. in Chemistry at age
21 in 1966.
Initially he worked as lab technician in the
New Cotton Mills, Ahmedabad, of
the Lalbhai group.
Then he worked as Lab Assistant in the
Geology and Mining Department of the
Government of Gujarat in 1969.
He wanted to earn more than what he
was earning at present.
So in 1969, at the age of 25, he started a
He offered a quality detergent powder
using indigenous technology, at a third
of the prevailing price.
The one-man company would bicycle
through the neighbourhoods selling
handmade detergent packets door to door at
a price of Rs. 3 per kg.
The next available cheapest brand in the
market at that time was Rs.13 per kg.
He named the detergent powder Nirma after
his daughter Nirupama.
Nirma revolutionized the whole detergent
powder segment and in a short span of time
created an entirely new market segment in
the domestic detergent sector market.
After three years, he felt confident enough
to quit his job.
It gave the bigger established brands a run
for their money and soon occupied the top
The Nirma brand quickly established itself
in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The high quality and low price of the
detergent made for great value.
Fuelled by housewife-friendly
Nirma was the largest selling detergent in
It was phosphate free and hence
Nirma entered the premium segment,
launching toilet soaps Nirma bath and
Nirma beauty soap, and premium detergent
Super Nirma detergent.
Nirma beauty soap is one of the leading
toilet soaps, behind Lifebuoy and Lux.
Overall Nirma has a 20% market share in
soap cakes and about 35% in detergents.
Nirma also has successful operations in
It also has a unfamiliar product Sudh salt.
He has interests in education, and founded a
leading pharmacy college Nirma Institute of
In 1995, he started the Nirma Institute of
Technology in Ahmedabad, which grew into a
leading engineering college in Gujarat.
An Institute of Management followed, with the
entire structure being consolidated under
the Nirma University of Science and
Technology in 2003.
The Nirma labs education project, aimed at
training and incubating entrepreneurs, was
launched in 2004.
At that time domestic detergent market was limited
only to premium segment and was dominated by
The process of manufacturing was labor intensive,
which offered large scale employment (employing
15,000 people in 2004).
After establishing its leadership in economy-priced
detergents, Nirma foray into the premium brand
segment, in cakes and detergents was equally
He has won many accolades on his way to
The Federation of Association of Small Scale
Industries of India, New Delhi, awarded him
with the 'Udyog Ratna‘.
He has been conferred with Padma Shri
Award for the year 2010 The award will be
formally conferred by the President of India
Mrs Pratibha Patil.
The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce
felicitated him as an 'Outstanding
Industrialist of the Eighties'.
The Govt. of India twice appointed him
Chairman of the Development Council for
Oils, Soaps & Detergents.
In 2009, He was ranked #92 by Forbes
magazine, for the list of India's Richest
He is sometimes referred to as K. K.