“Believe In What You Are Doing”: John Thomas, Founder, Herbal Strategi
- Sharmila Chand
- Jul 04, 2021
entrepreneur John Thomas was in search of a new adventure. Around the same
time, he developed a serious respiratory infection, which the doctors suspected
was being caused by carcinogens in chemical-based mosquito repellents.
is second nature to him, he saw this as an opportunity and jumped straight in.
Market research revealed that there were no healthier alternatives to
chemical-laced mosquito repellents. This, in 2011, led to the launch of Herbal
Strategi, which offers natural, herbal products in the segments of repellents,
cleaners, pet care and others.
Thomas has an MSc (Hons) from Punjab Agricultural University in Aquaculture and
an MBA from Cochin University. He also has rich experience of a decade in
marketing across various companies. His entrepreneurship has been a journey
with multifarious challenges. Mr Thomas has faced daunting tasks, failures, had
self-doubts and occasionally, has been let down by his closest people. On the
contrary, his journey portrays the successful small steps and strides he has taken
towards giving his concept a structure.
story of Herbal Strategi is the story of one man’s determination to overcome
challenges and find a solution to a seemingly-insurmountable problem, not only
for himself but also for the greater good. In an enlivening conversation with Sharmila Chand, Mr Thomas discloses his
management principles and practices that have helped him build successful enterprises
over the past many years.
What are your
five management mantras?
say you don’t have enough time – you always do.
everything has a greater potential.
What is the USP
of your product range?
we came in, most herbal FMCG products were in the personal and healthcare
space. There were no players in the home-care segment. That was our USP. We had
herbal products in the home-care space with the AYUSH licence and PETA and ISO
products are made with 100 per cent herbal actives. All our products are bio-degradable,
eco-friendly, non-toxic and safe for use with kids and pets around. All products
are vegan and made in house in an ISO 9002-compliant factory. Our cleaners have
been awarded the GreenPro, an eco-friendly label, by the Confederation of
Indian Industry. Our repellents are manufactured under the AYUSH licence.
products fall under six categories – herbal repellents, herbal cleaners, herbal
fresheners, herbal hygiene, herbal fogging solutions and herbal pet care.
you to get into this business?
2009, I had suffered from an upper respiratory tract infection. The doctors
told me to stop using vapourisers. Determined to switch to eco-friendly and
safe repellents, I searched online for alternatives but found nothing. My master’s
degree in Aquaculture at the Punjab Agricultural University came in handy. I
asked my colleagues, and they referred me to the Central Institute of Medicinal
and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) in Lucknow. We went there, and they gave us
environment-friendly formulations that kept mosquitoes away for 10 to 12 hours
to test. Since Kerala has 400 types of mosquitoes, we went there and tried
different formulations for one-and-a-half years. We then went to Kochi,
Hyderabad and Bengaluru to find out if people were interested in herbal
repellents. Around 30 per cent said yes, and out of that 30 per cent, 65 per
cent were new mothers with small kids who wanted safe repellents. Most of the
herbal companies were present in the personal-care and healthcare segments.
There were no herbal players in the home-care segment.
Do you play any
game which helps you in your work?
play Badminton, and it helps me in concentration.
What would you
consider as the turning point in your life related to your career?
severe respiratory infection in 2009 which led me to take on a new adventure
and finally set up a brand of my own
What is the secret
of your success?
secret of my success is perseverance, passion and hard work.
What is your
philosophy of work?
and perseverance can surely help one overcome all obstacles in life.
Is there any
particular person that you admire who has inspired you?
Father is my biggest inspiration. He was a very hardworking and religious
What is the best
advice that you have got?
on. Don’t give up!
What is your
What are your
favourite books and why?
The Secret by
Rhonda Byrne offers techniques to be successful.
What are your
five mantras for success in business?
*Believe in what
you are doing: Any business idea that you have, and when you
embark on the journey, you need to believe that it will work.
Always dream big in whatever you are doing.
Always be grateful, and whisper a prayer of gratitude when magic and positive
things happen to you.
Always be positive in the midst of a hurricane.
and passion: Have passion in what you do, and never give up.
What message on management would you like to convey to youngsters?
If you have to succeed in business, the only quality you should have is belief and perseverance. There was a time when I also felt that I lost, but I believed that I was the only one in the market with such products, and I stayed on. People start a journey, and lose hope midway. What is needed to tackle this is to have belief in yourself and the determination never to give up.