How a college dropout brought American cleaning products to Africa, now in over 400 stores

Rishav Juglall (Facebook)

  • Rishav Juglall launched Rocky Brands, a company that sells cleaning products to major retailers, and now supplies more than 400 stores in South Africa and on the continent.
  • The entrepreneur dropped out of UKZN to pursue his dream of running his own business and then faced many rejections.
  • After several attempts to get Game’s attention, Rishav succeeded, and by age 22 he was supplying Weiman products to over 100 Game stores.
  • With half a dozen brands in its portfolio, Rocky Brands supplies major companies such as Game, Makro, Pick n Pay, Builders Warehouse, Hirsch, Spar, Defy, the Gautrain and Virgin Active.
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After dropping out of college, Rishav Juglall started a cleaning service business called Rocky Brands in 2011 when he was 21.

Today the company supplies cleaning products to 400 stores including Game, Makro, Pick n Pay, Builders Warehouse, Hirsch and Spar, as well as companies such as Defy, the Gautrain and Virgin Active.

Juglall, now 32, was a marketing student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal but dropped out to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams.

“It all started when my mother sent me to buy a glass top stove cleaner, and at the time there was only one on the market. They had a monopoly and the price was very high, around 300 rand a bottle.

“I was studying marketing and economics on campus at the time and one of our assignments was to understand how a brand has a monopoly in a county,” Juglall told Business Insider South Africa.

The young entrepreneur took this case study and applied it in a daily situation. He studied monopoly at the time to understand where they were lacking, facilitating the introduction of new competitions.

“Their brand was extremely expensive, they didn’t have too many products in their range and the packaging was terrible.

“I was looking for products that were cheaper, better range, and sexier in terms of packaging. I knew if I found those three things…the competition wouldn’t stand a chance,” he said.

That’s when Juglall approached a US-based cleaning service brand called Weiman. His passion caught the company’s attention and Juglall was given samples to try.

“They supplied every other continent except Africa. They saw an opportunity, but they needed someone with local knowledge to bring it to market.

“They sent the products. I remember having that first thought and first impression of the product, and then I knew we were sitting on gold,” he said.

Seeing how competitive the products were, Juglall’s next step was to approach Game in 2016, but he was rejected for several months.

Rishav Juglall (provided)

Rishav Juglall (provided)

“They couldn’t understand how a 21-year-old could add value. But after knocking on Game’s door every week for months, they finally gave me a date out of sheer frustration.

“I had prepared a real hot marketing plan and within 15 minutes they had agreed on the products and prices,” he said.

Within just a month, the then 21-year-old waiter and college dropout was supplying retailers across South Africa.

“In the first month after our product hit the shelves of four stores, those stores sold nearly 90% of the stock.

“It told us that the South African public loved the brand, they loved the price and the packaging was eye-catching,” he said.

“Makro saw what we were doing in Game and called us to come to Joburg and share it with them. I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a prank.

“From Makro came Builders Warehouse. After that we went to Pick n Pay, Spar, Leroy Merlin and others.”

Besides Weiman, Rocky Brands currently has half a dozen brands in its portfolio, 38 employees.

Looking back, Juglall does not regret her decision to leave higher education to pursue her dreams.

“A lot of people follow book smarts, and they don’t have street smarts to complement it. My advice would be to go there, find something to sell and sell it. The most important character trait of any entrepreneur is the ability to sell. If you can’t sell, you won’t last very long.”

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