Narayanan Raghavan, Founder, Rent-A-Towel
“Commitment, perseverance, and a positive attitude lead to success,” says, Narayanan Raghavan, founder, and CEO of Rent-A-Towel &Dr. Linen companies.
An insightful leader, Mr. Narayanan is a seasoned engineering professional with 30+ years of experience having an innovative mind. As an Electrical Engineer, Narayanan started his career as a Trainee Engineer in an Engineering construction company in the Southern part of India in 1990. He spent 14 years with the world’s most admired company General Electric of US and has also completed many projects successfully in the US, Vietnam, UAE, Germany, India, and many more.
After working for large corporates, and multinational companies and managing mid-sized businesses, Narayanan embarked on the entrepreneurial journey in 2010. He felt that the problems and bureaucracy in any type of corporate culture are the same; ‘the employee mindset’ is like 8 to 5 in a cubicle environment with no innovative mind and running a rat race. Later, he joined hands with his friends to set up a Business consulting and Training organization in Dubai.
Since childhood, he was a perfectionist for his uniform to be white and crisp and it all started there. With a true passion and his love for linen, Narayanan ventured into the Laundry and Textile space and founded Linen rental business in 2015 with his two other hospitality professionals. With an aim to create a new service offering to the Hospitality Industry in the UAE, the company had Dubai as a corporate office. What initially started as a 4-member organization with one customer, and today, the company has grown to a level of 25+ resources and has a large customer base from 5-star and 4-star hotels in 2022.
With his engineering background, he wanted to bring technology flavor to the business and started to use RFID wash tags as an IOT application in the Linen and developed a proprietary tech platform called the Internet of Towels (IoTowel).
“We have developed a brand called “Rent -A- Towel and developed their unique product in the Linen called Dr. Linen™ which is a special blend of cotton with TENCELTM to bring in antimicrobial and sustainability features. The brand is trademarked in the United Arab Emirates and being taken to the rest of the world for Hospitality, Retail, and Healthcare,” asserts Narayanan.
Narayanan is known in the UAE hospitality circle as “Dr. Linen”
Successive Holistic Way of Approach
Narayanan shares, “In my definition, Success is referred to as the accomplishment an individual has set at the beginning of the entrepreneurial journey and work towards making it despite a lot of failures along the way.”
The ardent entrepreneur always motivates the team to excel in their roles with no fear of taking decisions in their own capacity. He adds, “However, I am a tough personality when it comes to winning or losing a business. I always want everything to be done then and there with no question of tomorrow. It makes sometimes for the followers in the team to come up to my speed and expectations.”
He believes that success is always a motivating element for anyone in the business or employment and can be handled easily. And however, handling a failure is critical and requires a tamed mind to accept, analyze, improve, and control. Narayanan is an entrepreneur who initially gets agitated when there is a failure but will soon try to get on to the root cause of failure and fix it.
Initially, the customer believed in the concept and gave the first contract even before the trade license was made. What started with 2 employees, today, the company is a 15-member battalion. Narayanan shares, “We had less than a Million Turnover in the first 2 years and grew steadily to 10 Plus Million. I always believe in the team that grows with me in making the company in the limelight of the linen management space.”
Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
Narayanan is highly inspired by the words of Swami Vivekananda, ‘Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached.’ He says, “I breathe with this mindset every day. The entrepreneurial itch continues within me until this is reached and the day, I fulfil this, I will retire from my business journey.”
Advising the budding entrepreneurs, Narayanan shares,
- The stakeholders of the business should have a common goal and be synchronized.
- A leader should be hands-on in the business and be willing to take manipulated risks.
- The leader should understand the commercials of the business thoroughly.
- Any leader and organization of any size should have the right team to grow.
- The leader shall empower the team to meet the goals of the company.
“I strongly believe that the businesses are built with an end objective of selling it one day to see the money for the efforts applied in building the company,” says, Narayanan. He also believes that aspiring owners should be willing to make their hands dirty, have thick skin to take the critics while marching towards achieving the end goal, compromise their personal lives to an extent and maintain a work-life balance to avoid mental stress. And finally, he advises that there should be adequate working capital in building the dream company.
Future Road Ahead
Narayanan’s concept of Linen Management is unique as a service and Dr. Linen as a product. The company looks forward to a bright and challenging future to address the demands of the ever-increasing hospitality segment across the Middle East and the rest of the world.
“As a leader, I am fully convinced and believe in myself to accomplish the target of reaching 100 M (could be USD or AED) in the next 3 years. I want to exit this business at 100 M and will not sleep until this is reached,” concludes, Narayanan.