Erratically painted stalls with its unkempt glasses housed many a scrumptious round sweet delicacies, or as they are commonly called “laddoos”. Countless such stalls and hand driven carts were a common sight in Jalandhar cantonment in the 1960’s, offering a plethora of luscious palates to those who could afford it, ranging from the piquant conic samosas to the round sweet laddoos, from the sweet sour namkeen to the spicy pakoras. It was 1961 when Baldev Mittal loaned ₹500 and set out with his daring venture to sell laddoos in his 10 by 10 shop. In a market that was cluttered with dingy stalls and makeshift carts, his small shop bore lucrative sweet laddoos at competitive prices and stood like an imposing oddity.
The ever booming business saw one prospect over another and soon diversified to include sweets of other sorts, namkeen and samosas. From his humble beginnings of managing a canteen in West Punjab, young Baldev was ready to cannon into the world of small businesses. Little had he known that his small precarious hole-in-the-wall operation that he slogged away for hours to keep standing would add to it a manufacturing cum shop center in the 80’s. He eventually had to ask his two sons to shoulder the burden and they were at the ready to contribute to the venture, even at the cost of their education, but still uncompromisingly sedulous to the needs of the business.
While others were skeptical about jostling with a rather stable business, Ashok, Baldev’s youngest son, had different plans for its future. He went on to ask for a dealership with the Bajaj automobiles but Bajaj found it unseemly to strike a partnership with a “halwai”. Undeterred and unfettered, the Mittals as daring as ever, took the dealership for Maruti Suzuki and soon emerged as the number 1 dealer in automobiles in Punjab and soon in north India. From a small facility that doled out sweets to scores of loyal customers, his shop soon became a regional brand and buttressing on the new joint venture the Mittals found a steady cash flow. With an annual sale of 14000 Lovely autos, the family business took flight with wheels.
A new found opportunity knocked on the Mittals door with new challenges at its doorsteps. The education boom of the 1990’s promised the prospect of founding an educational institution. On the outskirts of Phagwara, on 3.5 acres of land, the Mittals went on to build a college in the hopes of “transforming education”. Their background was not helpful, rather was a hindrance, as they saw a slew of contemptuous dismissals for their “newfangled” business idea. The Mittals plodded on regardless for two years and eventually bagged approval from AICTE to start a management college and thus their foray into education saw a “Lovely” leap and a “sweet” celebration was in order for their success.
In 2006, Lovely Professional University was birthed through a special law – one that granted them autonomy in many areas, capable of discretion that is independent of government interference on many levels. The university is ensconced over an area of 600 acres with its lush greenery sprawling in the juxtaposition of uniformly painted buildings. With more than 32000 students currently studying in the university, it is the largest private university in terms of student size, offering more than 200 courses. The campus itself houses more than 10000 students and the university boasts of having more than 2000 international students from various parts of Africa, Afghanistan and even Bangladesh. The university also realized another promise it had earlier made – that of having its own shopping mall.
The ever thronging business, furcating into countless branches has some of Baldev’s grandsons upholding their mantles. Aman Mittal heads the automobile division and also manages international collaborations under the Division of International Affairs. The IT infrastructure has found a leader in Aman Mittal, the former’s younger brother, MBA, from the University of Southampton, the UK. Another grandson of Baldev’s, Shaishav handles the sweet business, which is a recognized brand as of today, while his brother Vaibhav heads an e-commerce venture. The Mittal group knows no limitations and wouldn’t just bank on existing infrastructures and businesses but rather believes in forging new paths. Pratham, after doing his engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, started his own start-up called Venture Pact in 2012, an online marketplace for software services.
Following the example of his grandfather, they believe what they had been told: “With the clarity of goals, break down your initiatives and tackle them one at a time and do not let failure get the better of you”. With an average turnover of more than 800 crores, scores of luxury vehicles and other things to their names, their tireless souls still rejoice in their humble beginnings. For Baldev’s son Ramesh “staying united and working very hard” is a motto that still rings clear as he occupies the same seat in his lovely shop till 10 pm, lest his father’s legacy and the onerous bestowment slip from his hands to another. The “lovely” tale of entrepreneurship is far from its fitting end. The Mittals plod on with their “lovely and sweet” memories.