Unforgotten Brands – V-Guard

V guard logo

V Guard and Chittilappilly’s remarkable journey epitomises the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and community empowerment

Kochouseph Chittilappilly was born to C. O. Thomas of the Chittilappilly house in Parappur, a neighbourhood of Thrissur in the former State of Travancore-Cochin (now Kerala). He attended the local church school for his elementary education, then Christ College in Irinjalakuda for graduation, and finally St. Thomas College in Thrissur, where he earned a master’s degree in physics in 1970.

Despite harbouring ambitions of a career in science and diligently applying to esteemed institutions like ISRO & BARC, Chittilappilly faced repeated setbacks. However, these rejections, in hindsight, catalyzed his entrepreneurial journey. In 1973, he joined Telics, a struggling electronics firm in Thiruvananthapuram, where he worked as a supervisor, earning a modest income of 850 rupees per month over three years.

After encountering further disappointments in various job pursuits, Chittilappilly made a pivotal decision to venture into entrepreneurship. In 1977, at the age of 27, witnessing Telics’ decline, he embarked on establishing his own firm. To set up a little stabiliser manufacturing unit in a rented shed in Ernakulam, Kochouseph borrowed one lakh rupees from his father.

On his scooter, he peddled voltage stabilizers all around Ernakulam. The V-Guard logo features a kangaroo guarding its young joey, suggesting that the stabilizers from V-Guard would keep refrigerators safe. “Volt” is the “V” in V-Guard, and the kangaroo carrying a baby in its pouch is a safety sign. Designer V. A. Sreekandan (Mani) made the kangaroo logo.

Furthermore, the timing was impeccable. The massive Gulf boom was only beginning to manifest itself in Kerala. Indians living outside the country brought home televisions and other electronic gadgets. They yearned to improve their family’s living conditions at home. However, the voltage issues they encountered were quite severe. You may understandably feel anxious if you’ve invested a significant amount in your electrical equipment. In a second, a power surge could completely render the expensive electronics useless. By promising to protect these gadgets, V-Guard positioned itself prominently to seize the market.

He grew the workforce from two (high school dropouts) to twenty after just one year in business.

Major union conflicts posed a typical danger to Kerala’s industrial growth in the 1980s. In response to these difficulties, Chittilappilly, undeterred, navigated these obstacles by embracing outsourcing and empowering self-help groups of women, thereby fostering community engagement and resilience.

Presently, electric and solar water heaters, wiring cables, UPS, and ceiling fans are just a few of the many products offered by V-Guard. The products are available all across India, with a turnover of over Rs 4000 crore.

In 2000, after visiting the USA and Singapore, he began to diversify his business by opening Veegaland, the first water theme park in Kerala. Later, he launched another expansive park, Wonderla, in Bengaluru. Veegaland Developers, one of Kochouseph Chittillappilly’s other businesses, builds ready-to-move houses and flats in Kochi.

V-Guard and Kochouseph Chittilappilly’s remarkable journey epitomises the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and community empowerment, leaving an indelible mark on India’s business landscape.

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