From Rs. 100 to a 5000 crore empire- Read the inspiring story behind Haldiram’s

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Haldiram’s is one of the most trusted brands in the Indian community, both nationally as well as internationally. But the journey from a small shop in Bikaner to International outlets has spanned decades and was ripe with various hurdles.

Even though Haldiram has a brand value of over USD 3 billion (21,000 crore), it is surprising that the founding generation did not even finish their schooling. This should be a source of inspiration to entrepreneurs that the ability to learn, strong business acumen and instincts are skills that build industry leading businesses.

The Origins

The origin of Haldiram’s predates even the Indian independence. Ganga Bhisen Agrawal, foundly called Haldiram by his mother, started his journey from a small chawl in Bikaner. Ganga Bhisen learned the special recipe used by his aunt to make soft and thick Bhujia. This recipe came in handy to Ganga Bhisen, when he joined the family snack stall in Bikaner.

Ganga Bhisen further innovated the recipe. He started making Bhujia from moth (lentil) flour instead of the traditional besan flour. This change allowed bhujia to become the ubiquitous snack that it is.

Another change that he made was that he made the bhujia thinner using a finer mesh. He also knew how to market the product differently. He named it ‘Dungar Sev’ after the popular Maharaja of Bikaner. That differentiated the products and offerings from his grandfather’s brand.

The new offering was a instant hit among the customer and he started selling as much as 200 kgs per week.

Venturing alone

In 1944, a disagreement in the family ended with Haldiram and his wife, Champa Devi to move away from the family and forge their own path. They took nothing from the family home apart from a pair of clothes.

His wife would prepare moong daal, another popular namkeen and Haldiram would sell the namkeen on the streets of Bikaner. They somehow made ends meet for the family by doing this.

A Friend in Need

One day, when Haldiram was out selling moongdal, he had a chance encounter with his friends Allabelli. A childhood friend that Haldiram has helped financially years ago. After hearing about the plight of the family, Allabelli gave Haldiram Rs. 100. It was nothing short of a blessing for Haldiram.

The money helped Haldiram to rent a home in Bikaner. But they still did not have the money for renting a shop. He had to go and sell the moongdal by going to the market on foot.

Founding Stone of Haldirams’

In 1946, Haldiram and his wife set up their first shop in Bikaner. Named Haldiram Bhujia, they also started selling Bhujia using the recipe Haldiram had perfected.

Very soon, the shop had become the go to place for people from all over Bikaner. Now the entire family could live comfortably from the earnings of the shop.


Haldiram gave serious though to expansion of his brand outside Bikaner when he attended a family wedding in Kolkata. He took his trademark Bhujia snack as gift in the wedding. After receiving great feedback from all the guests and insistence to open a shop in Kolkata, Haldiram finally decided to set up a shop in Kolkata.

The next generation did not expand the business outside of the Bikaner and Kolkata locations.

The Foundation of the Empire

Grandsons of Ganga Bhisen – Manoharlal and Shiv Kishan – took the business to Delhi and Nagpur respectively. Haldiram’s’ first shop in Delhi was set up in Chandni Chowk (Delhi) and struck the right chord with customers. People flocked to the sweets and snack manufacturer’s shop.

Unfortunately, just when it seemed that the business would grow bigger than ever before, the shop and apartment were burned down during the 1984 Sikh riots. Manohar Lal did not give up even then. After sending his family back to Bikaner he rebuild the business again brick by brick. Having gone to the college, unlike his predecessors, Manohar Lal has quite a sharp mind for optimizing processes. This was an opportunity for him to start afresh and lay the proper foundation for an empire.

They started with rebuilding their shop. Once business picked up, they turned their apartment into a factory overnight, where the entire family pulled long sleepless nights, trying to keep up with demand. Soon, the Chandni Chowk location was not enough and Manohar Lal began looking for factory space to begin large-scale production. The first factory was set up in the late ’80s.

Surpassing foreign brands

From a humble shop in Bikaner to its own retail chain stores & restaurants, Haldiram’s has made its mark in the food (snack) industry in India. The company was then divided into 3 areas of operation in Delhi, Nagpur, and Kolkata.

With over 400 delightful products, Haldiram’s has included cookies, sherbets, papads, pickles, and western snacks into its domain. In 2003, Haldiram’s started developing convenience foods to be marketed to consumers. 11 years down the line, Haldiram’s ranked 55th among India’s most trusted brands as per the ‘Brand Trust Report’. Haldiram’s revenue mark crossed Rs. 4,000 crores in FY16. It became twice the size of HUL’s packaged food division. It also grew larger than the Indian turnover of Domino’s and McDonald’s put together! In 2017, the company was crowned as the country’s largest snack company, outperforming PepsiCo in sales. It superseded all its domestic and international competitors.

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