Trushar Khetia – How This Young Kenyan Entrepreneur Built A Multimillion Dollar Conglomerate

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We see traffic congestion especially on the highway as a shambolic but Trushar Khetia saw it as an opportunity and made use of it. Trushar Khetia is the founder and CEO of Tria Group and Tria Transit media – an outdoor advertising company that uses public transport (both land and air) to market consumer goods. He also has chains of supermarkets in a span of two years. He was listed among Africa’s 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in 2016.

Trushar Khetia was born into a business oriented family whom have enough to take care of him but he chose to be self – made and succeeded on his own without depending on his family’s money like many youths today who were born with a silver spoon, relax on it and boast of it instead of making their own money.

Early days in his career

Trushar Khetia was born on the 29th of November, 1986 in Kitale, in the Trans-Nzoia county of Kenya into a family that owns a retail store. He attended a local primary school in his county and completed his O’level and A’level in Nairobi schools.

Trushar started his entrepreneurship at the age of 8, although he never knew it was entrepreneurship until adulthood. At that tender age, he loved reading comic books and children story books, he finishes one book within few days and moves to the next. Most of his school friends like to read his story books so he this as an opportunity to make money. He started a book library, where those interested in borrowing his books will pay few Shillings. Before long, he made the money used in buying the book before it goes round. His teachers also borrow from his library for their children. As a kid, he was only doing it for fun, to make money for sweets and chocolates for himself and his friends.

At 9 years, he noticed that the canteen in his school sell boxes of biscuits to the students in the boarding house at a higher cost than what his family sell in their shop. So he brought boxes of biscuits whenever he is coming to school to sell at a cheaper price to the students. For this, he was making money for his parents and saving money for his friends without knowing he is already running a business. From 2-4 boxes in a week, he graduated to 20-30 boxes.

In 2004, he was enrolled as a student in the Manchester Business School in United Kingdom and he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management specializing in marketing. His hobbies are listening to music, mixing music and reading.

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Trushar continued his entrepreneurship drive while in university. He worked as a sales boy in different small businesses. He worked as a sales boy with video mongers, in perfume shop, etc, building and practicing his marketing skills. He was also the marketing manager of Securex in Nairobi for six months and a DJ at Pavement club.

Trushar got a job as a project development manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G) after he graduated from the university. Within the period he worked there, he received many promotions due to his skills in marketing. But on the other hand, he really wanted to start his own business. He quitted the job after 3 years and returned back to Kenya to grow his family’s business. Due to much restrictions given to him by family members, he was unable to carry out his ideas towards the growth of the business, hence, killing his dreams, so he pulled out. According to Trushar, he chose to live his family business to start from the scratch.

Starting Tria Group

During his stay in United Kingdom, he made use of public transport for his movements. He observed the kind of adverts placed on the transport vehicles especially on taxis, trains and buses, and on research, he found out that companies who focus on advertising using transit media make huge returns yearly. He tried to relate his observations with Kenya’s transport media and decided it will be feasible and viable in Kenya since Kenya has a lot of vehicles on the roads with few carrying adverts.

In 2013, at the age of 27, Trushar founded Tria Group with Sh 5million, a savings he made while working with P&G and from people he sold the ideas to. With the knowledge and skills acquired in school and while working with those small businesses while in school, he started his business at home using his laptop and he successfully hit two major contracts worth $78,000 in just 7 days. The first contract was with Unilever to promote Omo detergent and the second was Kenafric Industries, one of the biggest confectionery in Kenya.

He launched Tria Transit media as his first venture. He focused on advertising using public transports. According to him, he knew he had to use the unrecognized industry, make a name before competitors sprang up. In just one year, he had secured 30 clients and having more than $1.5 million as revenue in the second year. This pushed him to expansion. According to him, they don’t wait for people to come to their message, they take their message to the people. This contributed to his success. He decided to diversify the business while still captivating his audience, he converted informal bus stops to formal by providing shelter with adverts on them and a kiosk for sales of products. He advertised in malls, supermarkets and media.

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Tria Group is the first company to do adverts on air planes. He partnered with Jambo jet and was allowed to advertise his clients brands on beverage cups, napkins, luggage compartments, menu cards, table trays and headrest covers. What an idea!

Chains of supermarkets

According to Trushar, instead of using the income for short-term queenliness, he used the funds to buy supermarkets. In November 2014, he acquired an operating supermarket in Thika inclusive of the stocks, shut it down for ten days, re- branded it and launched Society Store supermarket at Sh20million. Today he has chains of supermarket stores in Kenya, some of which he bought while others he build from scratch. Trushar have clients reaching him unlike before when he had to persist in order to get the business.

Of course, there were rough roads before he made it this far. According to him, he attributed what he knew about retail to have come from a business oriented family but starting up the companies and taking them to where they are today was done all by himself, independently which appears easy from the outside but came with lots of responsibilities and sacrifices. He remained consistent even when knocked down. He never gave up. Sometimes he feels like giving up when it is getting too tough but for the fact that he did not contribute to where he is today and that no difficulty is permanent. He reminds himself “do not forget where you started, where you want to be and why you got into this for the first time”.

His business today and achievements

Trushar Khetia was listed among the 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa in 2016 by Forbes. He has six supermarket outlets in Kenya which includes Meru, Maua, Kayole, Thika, Navasha and Limuru in which some are acquired from existing supermarkets and others were built from the scratch. The chain retail stores has changed the lives of so many of his employees. He started with 60 employees and has risen to 380 employees, moving some of his junior staffs to managerial positions. Seeing other people grow gives him as an entrepreneur a feeling of satisfaction. He changed his family’s retail shop to Khetia supermarket.

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Trushar is a very simple personality, with all his achievements, he still decides to live simple. His two main cars are red BMW Z4,a convertible two-seater and a Jaguar XF. BMW is for his weekend rides while the Jaguar for weekends. His love for music never dies and hopes to go back to DJ work. He still finds time to do DJ even in his busy schedule. He invites artists to perform whenever he is opening a new supermarket.

Great quotes from Trushar Khetia

  • Enterprenuership is like living a few years of your life-like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
  • Success is a journey rather than a destination. It never comes to an end. The pursuit of success is continuous. The fact that you keep at it is what makes you successful.
  • Sometimes we do not realize that we are so close to the finishing line. Most people quit when they are just about to cross the line.

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About the writer:

This was written by Chiamaka Uduezue, content contributor at MyAfribusiness.com. She is a graduate of Environmental Management and enjoys learning new things and sharing knowledge with others.

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NB: Featured image credit – markmaish.com


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