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Guwahati: The idea for the famous ‘Bahuboli’ egg company, named after an SS Rajamouli blockbuster, was conceived in the European countryside, Business North East discovered during a tête-à-tête with its founder Akash Gogoi.
Gogoi, who hails from Jorhat in Upper Assam, had been an entrepreneur for over a decade before he was drawn towards the agri sector while touring the Netherlands and Germany. "In 2014, I was in Europe on business assignments when associates took me to farms on cities' outskirts. The scientific expertise in managing these hygienic dairy, poultry, and piggery farms thoroughly captivated me. It made me pause and think - if Europeans can do that, why can we, the people of Assam, not do something similar?", Gogoi shared with Business North East.
Government campaigns over the next couple of years, especially the focus on "vocal for local" initiatives, convinced Gogoi that he needed to take the next big leap: start a big farm in an “industrial” fashion with the right tools and machinery, and a hierarchical company-like workers’ setup.
“Interestingly, we did not name the eggs right away and it took me about a month to decide on ‘Bahuboli.’ I used that name as it translates to strength and power” shared Gogoi. Bahuboli’s unique selling point, said the entrepreneur, lies in the fact that the company develops its feed which is directly responsible for the quality of eggs produced by the hen. “For the feed, we bring in raw materials from wholesale markets such as Kharupetia, Dhing, and Morigaon. The better the quality of the feed, the better and bigger the quality of the eggs."
Over the years, Gogoi, a recipient of the state government's 'Assam Gaurav', has realized that the egg industry involves long, laborious working days and requires 24/7 supervision. “In effect, we have to be engaged 365 days a year. Management of workers is another key element in the scheme of things. It can be argued that it is the primary skill that is required and perhaps the reason we have managed to stay afloat where many others have faltered”, he said.
Since its inception, Bahuboli has made significant strides in Assam’s egg sector and become ubiquitous in the mass market. “We can partially attribute our success to new developments in food science and more awareness and emphasis on nutrition. Whereas an egg was considered a delicacy 15-20 years ago, it is seen as a compulsory ingredient in every breakfast now”, he said.
Starting with a capital investment of around Rs 10 crore, Bahuboli, which operates two farms having altogether 1 lakh egg-laying hens, has a yearly turnover of Rs 20-22 crore. The eggs’ popularity is such that private dealers have even transported them across inter-state borders to Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
Gogoi, who is now 45 years old, was not always an ‘egg entrepreneur.’ He graduated as a computer engineer from Bangalore University back in 2000. After short stints with IT start-ups in the technology capital, he returned to Assam in 2002 bent on making it as an entrepreneur. Along with his associates, he first gave life to Maverick Technologies, a firm dealing in delivering cutting-edge technology to the IITs and IIMs of the world. “Our team in Maverick was also involved in government projects and defence contracts. Those experiences laid a strong foundation for further forays in the entrepreneurial field”, he said.
His next big project is ‘Xaaj’, a liquor brand that seeks to imbue heritage drinks with a mass market appeal.
“For thousands of years, ethnic tribes from the Northeast have brewed beverages with rice. Southeast Asia has similar practices. When I visited Japan and S Korea, I saw heritage drinks neatly bottled up and made available for the market ready for mass consumption. That is how the vision for ‘Xaaj’ took shape”, he revealed. ‘Xaaj’ is bottled in a facility located in the AIDC industrial area in Jorhat, not too far from Gogoi’s Bahuboli farms. It is starting to appear in wine shops across Assam, signifying the brand’s growing footprint in the state’s alcohol sector.
“Liquor brewing traditions are fading fast here and IMFL consumption is gaining traction. Although I do not advocate the drinking of liquor, I feel home-made variants are far less harmful than the factory-produced kind. Therefore, let us keep the tradition alive”, he said.