Big Things Often Have Small Beginnings

Born in a family of poor farm laborers in 1962, Arunachalam Murugnanthan lost his father when he was 1o. Stuck in extreme poverty, he dropped out of the school when he was 14 and started supporting his family financially by taking up various jobs as a machine operator, welder, and laborer. 


In 1998, after he got married to Shanthi, he found her collecting dirty dustcloths and newspapers to handle her menstrual cycles. Deeply saddened by this, he started devising the strategies to design a cotton pad himself. And thus, started the small beginning of a big thing to help millions of females who were using the unhygienic means to deal with this problem.


After a few attempts, when he gifted the 1st experimental pad to his wife, he was reprimanded by her for his efforts due to the taboo revolving around the subject. Not only that, out of shyness, the females in his neighborhood too refused to discuss their menstrual problems with him. 


 To deal with it, he finally chose to test it on himself and got a football bladder filled with the animal blood. To his dismay, his cotton pad was unable to absorb the blood. It took him another 2.5 years to uncover that the top MNCs used cellulose as an absorber instead of cotton. He understood the technique and designed a simple machine that could manufacture highly cost-effective hygienic cellulose pads. 


A Small Beginning led to the Big Thing when his invention got him a seed funding and he started manufacturing low-cost sanitary pads at a large scale.


Small Beginning led to the Big Thing when his pad-manufacturing machine found its way to the 400 Districts in India and 29 Countries across the World.


A Small Beginning led to the Big Thing when he was awarded the Padamshree Award by the Govt. of India in 2016. Big Things Often Have Small Beginnings. 


I can proudly say that in a fictional world of Iron-Man, Spider-Man, and Bat-Man, we have our own real-life superhero: Pad-Man.


Image: Arunachalam aka Padman | Source: Firstpost


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Like Rome, the modern Berkshire Hathaway wasn’t built in a day. It’s a big journey of Mr. Warren Buffett who started with a small beginning of selling gums and recycled Coke bottles at the age of 5 and 6 respectively. It’s the big stuff of a living legend who started his investment career at the age of 11 and bought his 1st stock with a small capital in 1942. It’s the entourage of the driver of a big compounding machine who sold thousands of golf balls and hawked around 6,00,000 newspapers in his childhood days.


What started initially with a small capital of $114 in 1942 (age 11) has made Warren Buffett worth $89 Billion in 2018 (age 88). 


Image: Warren Buffett’s Wealth VS. Age | Data Source: MicroCapClub


That’s way more than the individual GDP of Costa Rica($57.4 Billion), Ghana($42.69 Billion), Croatia( $50.43 Billion), Serbia($37.75 Billion), and Uruguay($52.42 Billion). 


Big Things Often Take Time To Happen


In investing, the journey of accumulating big gains often consists of a prolonged duration of boredom which tests your patience and conviction to hold. It can turn out to be risky as it alters the human behavior to jump out of the wagon in between. One needs to swallow the initial multi-years of underperformance in order to enjoy the big things that happen at the later stage. 


The below chart (conceptualized originally by Four Pillar Freedom) shows how a personal wealth takes time to build during the initial years of accumulation. It exactly reveals that the initial small beginnings are slow to perform but speed-up to turn into a big thing when you progress with time. It takes extremely less time to move from 89L to 1Cr at the later stage than it takes to go from 0 to 11.3L initially. Wait Patiently. Big Things do take time to happen.



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The subject of this post is one of my favorite dialogues from the movie Prometheus that I watched in 2016. I find it to be closely connected to the real world as a lot of success stories revolve around this essence.


For instance, with a small beginning of selling just 22 books in its initial year of establishment, Sachin & Binny Bansal have made Flipkart the poster boy of the Indian startups. What started with an initial investment of just Rs.2 Lakh was acquired by Walmart recently for $16 Billion. With a small beginning of assigning membership to only Harvard students, Mark Zuckerberg has made Facebook really a big thing by expanding it globally. Google, a small research project that was started in 1998, translates around 3.2 Billion search queries every day. 


Just one step at a time keeps multiplying the success over a period of time. These victorious anecdotes turn out to be a laboratory of study and research on how big things often have small beginnings. 


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You’ll also love reading: There Is No Complimentary Beer

The cover image has been taken from Exerciencia



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