Billionaire Binod Chaudhary on his autobiography, taking brand Wai Wai forward and life lessons.
The word ‘no’ doesn’t have a place in Binod Chaudhary’s vocabulary. He tells me he isn’t a writer, but the 60-year-old (with the help of a journalist and scattered notes, photos and souvenirs) is ready with a biography, Making it Big, which chronicles his life. Similarly, he reminisces how, at 18, when he’d taken over his father’s business in Nepal, he hadn’t let inexperience get in his way. He built it to include 14 verticals, including hospitality, electronics and beer! Today, as the Himalayan nation’s only billionaire, he is defined by more than his success or his most popular brand, the Wai Wai noodle. “You need to have certain inborn qualities to be a successful entrepreneur, but you also need to nurture those with hard work, dedication, perseverance and innovation,” begins Chaudhary, who cut his teeth in business quite young—with a tuck shop at school when he was just 10, and a nightclub called Copper Floor in Kathmandu, in his early 20s.
Wai wai connect
Speaking of innovation, the book reveals that the ready-to-eat noodle was born from two observations: surplus flour at their mills and imported noodles that he saw on baggage belts at the international airport. Today, Wai Wai (meaning quick, quick in Thai) holds 20 per cent market share in India, and has plans to make more inroads. “I want to make it the largest noodle brand in the country (an ad campaign with Prahlad Kakkar is scheduled to go on air soon). We are also in the final phase of starting the CG Mega Food Park in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and launching a chain of quick service restaurants, where we will create comfort dishes—derived from popular Asian favourites, and keeping global trends (like power bowls and ancient grains) in mind—but with a Wai Wai twist,” says Chaudhary, who prefers home-cooked meals, but also enjoys an occasional bowl of noodles.
Now, with his three sons having taken on major roles in the company, he says he is devoting more time to his charitable pursuits—the Chaudhary Foundation built 10,000 shelter homes and 100 school buildings for people hit by last year’s earthquake in Nepal. As for his pastimes, he recently did the Rara and Dolpo trek and is paging through Andrew Duff’s Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom. And though he believes he has found his niche, he signs off stating that he will never stop “adapting and evolving”.
Making it Big is published by Penguin. Rs 399. Details: penguinbooksindia.com
—Surya Praphulla Kumar