At 30 years, Trushar Khetia has achieved what most of his age mates can only dream of. In a span of four years, he has founded two multimillion-shilling companies making his business acumen covetable.
Mr Khetia’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2013 when he founded Tria Transit Media, an outdoor advertising firm which got tongues wagging in Nairobi through advertising on the sides of buses.
Two years ago, he set up Society Stores, an upcoming supermarkets chain that is out to spar it out with the big boys in the country, which include Nakumatt, Tuskys and Naivas.
Mr Khetia’s two businesses make up Tria Group. His insatiable hunger for success has seen American magazine Forbes name him one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs for two consecutive years since 2015.
“My life’s mission is to leave a legacy behind, where my name and my businesses outlive me by developing people around me. In the end it all comes down to the positive impact you make on other peoples’ lives,” he tells the Enterprise in an interview.
He speaks passionately about his youngest business, saying he is keen on making it in a sector that has seen several once high-flying players hit the floor hard in recent years.
Aware of the competition posed by the current crop of leading retailers, the football and fitness enthusiast says he strategically set up shop in areas targeting middle and low-income shoppers.
The reason for this, he adds, was that major retailers are yet to establish a solid presence in areas where these customers live, making it the best route to success for Society Stores.
The retail chain has aggressively grown its branch network to six with outlets in Thika, Maua, Meru, Naivasha, Kayole and Limuru, the latest one, having been opened just three weeks ago.
The Kayole branch, the retailer’s first in Nairobi, was opened last year following Easy Mart’s acquisition while the Thika outlet was unveiled in 2014 after the firm bought out Leens Supermarket.
The retailer has 510 employees.
“We are just over two years old as a company and some of the outlets are not even one year old, but already have a daily footfall of over 20,000 customer per day across all the outlets with a projected turnover of Sh1.8 billion at the end of this year,” he says.
Mr Khetia, who plans to expand his branch network regionally to 50 stores in five years, divulges that the cost of setting up one branch is between Sh30 million and Sh50 million.
So far, he has injected about Sh550 million in the six Society Stores branches through a mixture of loans from local commercial banks as well as internal resources.
The entrepreneur says Ethiopia is one of the countries that is on their expansion radar, describing it uncharted territory by local retailers.
“We are planning not only to be in all the counties of Kenya, but to also have presence within the major eastern African cities of countries such as Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia,” he said.
Oxford Business Group (OBG), in its Kenya 2016 report, says that devolution has increased the opportunity for formal retail chains to expand their footprint outside Nairobi as incomes rise in the counties.
Another survey released last year by mobile phone-based pollster GeoPoll on consumer spending habits shows that Kenyans are spending more with about 56 per cent making a visit to a supermarket compared to 35 per cent who shop at a kiosks.
“Together with our strong loyalty programme called the S-club, we work not just to attract new customers, but more importantly retain our existing ones by building loyalty and lifetime relationships. This is what sets us apart,” he adds.
His older business, Tria Transit media has over the years grown from focusing on transit to modern bus shelter advertising, mall, retail in-store and even experiential media.
Mr Khetia started out using Quick Response Code (QR codes) to track each of his advertisements, which he said were highly successful since they engaged consumers at a more personal level.
The firm, which he started at just 26, churns out an annual revenue of about $1.3 million (Sh130 million).
“We are offering our clients a 360 degree approach towards out of home advertising and are planning an event next month to re-launch our brand to the industry.”
Mr Khetia’s curriculum vitae at a glance is interesting. He enrolled at the University in Manchester for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing at 17.
But at 18 he was back in Kenya as marketing manager at Securex, a security company in Nairobi. He later became a business development executive at Proctor and Gamble in London when he turned 23.