#Fathersday Special: Together we always look forward to achieve healthy growth- Chetan Walunj, Repos Energy
Anushruti Singh June 21, 2020
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A father can be addressed as Pita, Baba, Abba, Papa, Daddy, Father, Padre, or Papi, but he will always remain a child’s first hero. He holds your faltering steps when you are a child and as you grow up, he becomes your mentor and an inspiration. This father-son relationship is fondly cherished by Chetan Walunj, Founder and CEO of Repos Energy.
It was Chetan Walunj’s father, Rajendra Walnuj that believed in him when he dreamed to start his own business pertaining to doorstep fuel delivery four years ago. The idea of door-to-door delivery of diesel originated while Chetan was sitting at his office in their family-run petrol pump at Pune’s Chakan region. They wanted an operational model like Swiggy for fuel distribution.
Thereafter, the startup Repos Energy was founded with an initial funding of Rs 3 crores. Chetan’s father had pumped in the initial amount to kick-start a new start-up business. Recalling the journey Chetan says, “It is normally seen that a son takes over his father’s business, but our story is a little different. I expanded my father’s business with a new vision in which my father came on board as the Director. He sold his land to provide fuel to our dreams.”
Today, the startup is backed by Ratan Tata who is working closely with government and the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas in accordance with new government policies. The father-son duo along with Chetan’s wife, Aditi Walnuj has elevated the business from just three employees to two-hundred now. Along with this, they are now seeking an investment of $30 million to expand their business. Their target is to produce and sell 3200 mobile petrol pumps in India during the financial year 2020-21.
My father as a mentor
According to Chetan, a father is an emotional anchor who holds your hand whenever you tend to fall. Talking about his father, he says, “He is a mentor for me while he sees me as the leader. He has never acted like a boss with me. While growing, I have always learned from my grandfather and father since both were very hardworking individuals.”
He further reveals, “Whatever they ever set their minds on, they tend to achieve it with grit in their work and integrity. The words ‘impossible’ and ‘excuse’ does not exist for him. He has always pushed us to go beyond our limits. He firmly believes that if you are determined about something, you are bound to achieve it. He is a visionary entrepreneur and I know that I always have him in success as well as in times of any crisis.”
Rajendra Walunj while opening up about his journey in the initial days tells us that he comes from a humble background. Being eldest in the family, he had to bear all the financial responsibilities. Yet, he never stopped dreaming and more than that he worked relentlessly to achieve these dreams.
Describing his arduous journey, he says, “After working as a welder in Mahindra, Tata Motors and Baja, I decided to quit my job and took a loan of Rs 25,000 from a bank. Afterwards, I started my own fabrication business in 1987. I always saw opportunities and possibilities amidst adversities. I am 53 years old now and still work for 14 hours a day. I used to plan ahead then, and I do the same now also. Now, my son Chetan also does the same thing.”
A collective and joint conscience
While Rajendra Walunj handles the on-ground execution in his son’s startup, Chetan takes care of business development. According to Chetan, his father has always been very progressive. He tells, “He knows how the new generation works and how technology has evolved. We both thrive on our weaknesses and strengths. There are conflicts too but we respect each other’s abilities. This is how it all works out very well between us.”
Talking about their relationship Rajendra Walunj opens up, “My son Chetan and I are more like friends both at home and work. We teach each other various things every day. I have passed on the lessons which I have inherited from my father and gained from my personal experiences. The mantras which have made me better are never say never and don’t take shortcuts at work by cheating. You will always get what you deserve with your perseverance.”
It can be said that Chetan’s entrepreneurial journey started during his childhood. It was his father who assigned him little projects of his own. This pushed him to learn business ethics and strategies from his school days. Visiting the memory lane, Chetan recalls, “I started working closely with my father when I was in seventh standard. Every year during my summer vacations, my father would assign me a project which was supposed to be completed during those three months.”
He further adds, “It usually had something to do with our family restaurant Rajratna, our fabrication set-up, or the petrol pump business. I got completely involved in our businesses after my engineering, especially the petrol pump. It was here that the preliminary idea of Repos Energy was sown.”
Since, the work is clearly demarcated between both of us diverse interests rarely crossed our path while taking business decisions. Chetan confesses that it is all about team work between us, “We always look at everything from the perspective of achieving healthy growth of Repos Energy. So, it is always a joint effort and for that we influence each other through our diverse knowledge and interests.”
Effectively executing vision and values
Vision, values and culture of a business are keys to successful succession planning. Rajendra has always given his best to whatever he has ever done in life. He therefore possesses similar sentiments for his son. He claims, “I have always given my best to whatever I have done in life. Each dream you wish to accomplish requires hard work, good intent, integrity, and cooperation among employees. I inherited these virtues from my father and I wish to see my children carrying forward the similar legacy.”
There has been no looking back for Rajendra Walunj and Chetan Walunj who once began their venture from ground zero. They indeed saw many hardships and there also were many lessons learned but eventually their business grew into a successful venture. Today, their focus is on taking steady steps and upgrading their venture with new business strategies and technology adoption.
“My father started the petrol pump business with me and my wife Aditi and I have transformed it through technology. Everything that we are working on currently has been inherited from our existing businesses. Hence, my focus is completely towards the upgrade of existing petrol pumps on a technology-driven platform. This basically comprises of regenerating the entire business and making it future-ready,” concludes Chetan.