Milan Dobariya used to be a teacher, but he is a student of the times himself. When professional opportunities faded away during the pandemic, he pursued a dream long buried. Read how his small business grew into an enterprise generating a turnover of ₹6 crores in just two years and how Flipkart’s Big Billion Days played the role of facilitator and enabler.
For Surat-based small business entrepreneur Milan Dobariya, becoming an academic was the most secure choice. He’d set his targets early on and, with his family’s blessing, worked towards them diligently. But even the best-laid plans go awry, and Milan’s career took an unexpected turn during the pandemic.
That’s when he pivoted, awakening his bottled-up dream of entrepreneurship, and turned to Flipkart to set up a small business. What follows is a tale of perseverance, determination, and learning. While Milan is certainly the protagonist of this success story, Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale played the supporting role! Read Milan’s exciting journey in his own words.
Pivoting during the pandemic: From teacher to a small business owner
I used to be a teacher educating students on subjects like science and mathematics. I actually have four degrees. I first completed my B.Sc., then pursued M.Sc., followed by B.Ed., and eventually M.Ed.
My family background is such that my sister is a government teacher, and my father’s elder brother is a government professor. As per my family’s wishes, I also focused on teaching and securing a government job, as having stable employment was the primary goal.
Being from Surat, I did have the desire to do something oriented towards business, but that was not the prevailing mindset in the family. So, I took up teaching. However, during the pandemic, there were no opportunities in the teaching field. The uncertain circumstances stretched on, and I realized that it may be better to start something of my own.
That’s when I thought of starting a small business in the garment sector in April 2021. It was right in the middle of a lockdown when I began.
Watch Milan’s story
Building on the Surat connection with e-commerce
Surat mainly revolves around two industries, one is the diamond business, and the other is the textile business. These two industries have been dominant here. While womenswear like sarees and kurtis used to be the major focus, e-commerce has led to even menswear coming up.
Since I was starting a small business from scratch without any family involvement, I focused on online demand and knew I would be selling on Flipkart itself. I had a little interest and knowledge in men’s shirts, and that became the focus of my business. Today, I am on Flipkart selling formal shirts, casual shirts, and men’s kurtas.
Onboarding here is easy, and the account managers are transparent and prompt. But I did take some time to catch up. When I started, we used to receive around 5 orders a day. Getting 10 orders was a big deal at that time, and our early sales were around Rs.5-6 lakhs. However, as time went on, we learnt and gradually grew.
Mine is a small business and I love to personalize it for my customers. I always leave hand-written notes for them to not just tell them about their purchase but also to tell them how their reviews help my business. After selling around 50 pieces, we received a review with a photo from a customer. It turns out they had posted the photo because of the note I had personally written and included! This memory is quite special to me because the review came with a photo of my product and made me really happy.
The Big Billion Days sale – a game changer unlike any other
When we encountered the first BBD sale in 2021, we weren’t fully aware of what happens during BBD and how to participate. However, even without participating, we received a positive response. My actual experience with The Big Billion Days sale happened in 2022 when our sales picked up by 3.5X!
Once that happened, my focus changed. I devoted myself completely to my small business and knew I could achieve even more growth with it. BBD is crucial for my business. Though we all work longer hours, my entire team is energetic, and the atmosphere is vibrant and festive. I even hire extra workers during this time, and it is like a season of celebration that starts from Diwali onwards. In fact, last year with The Big Billion Days sale our turnover was around Rs.6 crores.
This year with BBD, we have geared up and made all preparations with our account manager’s help. Our main focus is on increasing the stock in the warehouse, and we have already set our pricing and scheduled our manufacturing accordingly. I believe we’ll reach around Rs.8 crores in revenue this year or even go beyond that!
In just two years with Flipkart, my small business has grown into a full-functioning small-scale manufacturing unit. We have two sites – one is a warehouse where around 10 people work together and the other is our manufacturing unit, which employs around 37 workers. Yes, initially our unit was small, but now it has grown larger.
Currently, we focus on monthly production of around 30,000 units, and I plan to introduce more prints and fabrics in men’s shirts and even expand into the ladies category. With e-commerce, the future looks bright, and business is what I want to pursue.
To read more stories of #SellfMade Flipkart sellers like Milan Dobariya, click here.