Sujoy Bhattacharya – Founder and CEO of Falls River Soap Company

I am who I am because of the mistakes I have made and what I learned from them.

Sujoy Bhattacharya is an entrepreneur, business consultant, and technology sales and marketing professional. He started his career as a Computer Software Programmer after completing his degree in Engineering in Ceramics & Material Science. He worked for several years as both a business consultant and a technology professional. During these years, he learned a lot about all different aspects of business, including retail sales and marketing, consumer products and behavior, manufacturing, high tech business, and business banking and insurance.

It wasn’t until later in his business career that Falls River Soap Company was born in the quiet neighborhood of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This historic town features a beautiful waterfall as the center point for the city. It was the natural beauty of the town, along with his passion for natural products and professional business experience, which helped inspire Sujoy’s leap into his entrepreneurial venture.

Sujoy had always been passionate about using natural and organic personal and bath products. This passion eventually became a hobby. A real need for quality, natural soaps for his family helped him create his first batch of cold processed soap. This soap making hobby one day spilled out from his basement and blossomed into a global business.

Because of Sujoy’s unique mix of an educational background along with a professional background filled with various business experiences, this business became almost an overnight success. It was his exposure to technology and online business that became the key differentiator for Falls River Soap Company. His hybrid method of e-commerce channels and artisan ideals has allowed him to be able to create a successful fusion of traditional and modern business.

A company that started as a hobby from the basement of Sujoy’s house has now grown into a highly successful venture. Falls River Soap Company products can be found in 7 countries and are popular on Amazon USA.  There is no doubt that Founder and CEO Sujoy is the reason for the company’s success. His skills, knowledge, and commitment to a top-notch product are the driver behind the growing and flourishing company.

Where did the idea for Falls River Soap Company come from?

My wife and I have always enjoyed natural and organic products, but our biggest challenge was finding a good, old-fashioned handmade soap that was made from good ingredients. When our son was born, we found out that he had really sensitive and dry skin. All the regular, store-bought soaps did not work well for him. Some of them even seemed to make the problem worse. That’s what motivated me to do some research on handmade soaps that could make my son’s skin better. I made my first batch of cold process soap with Brazilian muds right there in my basement and it worked wonders for his skin. After that, we kept making the soap because we loved it so much. We would give it as gifts to family and friends. They loved it so much that they started asking for more. That’s when Falls River Soap Company was truly born!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day for me starts by a 30-minute run, outside if the weather permits or on the treadmill. That’s how I get all charged up and energized for the day. Next, I always look at current news headlines so that I’m up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. After that, my work day can consist of anything. It’s greatly different each day depending on what is going on in the business. Some days I’m focused on sales, some days I am working on soaps or having a creative meeting with our soap makers. No matter what I’m doing, what makes me productive is focusing on the priority for that day and planning my time before starting work every day.

Work-life balance is very important to me, and how much quality time I spend with my family matters to me. I also believe that kids need not just attention, but they also need time and positive participation in all the activities that they are participating in. So, despite the busy weeks, on weekends I try to completely dedicate all my time to my family.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Contrary to popular belief, my personal belief is that to bring any idea to life, you need not do a lot of analysis before acting. If your gut says that this can be a good idea, then just go for it and commit to it. Do not plan a roadmap to the degree that you become a slave to your own plan. Use plans to keep you on target, but never get discouraged or scared to change direction as needed to achieve your end objective.  When you have that attitude, it’s not as scary to bring any idea to fruition.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am excited about how consumers are embracing change in various marketplaces and the appetite for interesting ideas and products. I think that this is very important and keeps entrepreneurs on their toes. To me, we now have a new-age culture where it is no longer a ritualistic culture, but a progressive and ideological culture. This new culture is still preserving the reason and ideologies, but is willing to keep changing the implementation and ritualistic approaches prescribed to achieve that. I believe this pushes us for more creative opportunities and great innovations. It’s like a more efficient new generation.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Constant research and feeling out what the consumers need and want makes me more productive. This helps me to understand the changing needs. It’s tricky because needs can be articulated by the consumers, but they may not have been directly articulated by the consumers as well. I believe that new ideas are born from here, from the consumer.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I don’t think it is appropriate to classify jobs as good or bad. You can have good experiences or bad experiences at nearly any job or role that you had during your professional career. The most important thing is to learn from those experiences. If you have a bad experience, it may just mean that you may not be the right candidate for that specific job. I think that should also be taken as a learning experience rather than a miserable time or a failure.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I am who I am because of the mistakes I have made and what I learned from them. I would not go back and change anything. I wouldn’t do something differently to try to avoid any mistakes I have made earlier in my life. If I had not made these mistakes, then I probably wouldn’t know the things that I know now and maybe I would not have been as successful in my business venture.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I can’t stress enough how important ongoing and continuous learning is. Learning should be a way of life. When you think, you have learned something as much as you can, then go and try to find better ways to do the same thing. Don’t be content with what you know at this very moment.

I also believe that imparting knowledge to others or training others is also a big part of self-learning. When we train others, we tend to open our mind to more scenarios and we start to understand different perspectives that will help us enhance our knowledge and understanding. Helping someone else to grow is such a great way to boost our own growth.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Understanding of the marketplace and your target customers is one my most important strategies. I use the knowledge about the customers and then translate it into change in business strategy and/or product lines. This helps to keep our business constantly interesting to our customers and keep us differentiated. Our business grows because we adapt and change as the customer does. We don’t become stagnant.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

During the early days of the business, we had an issue with a big batch of Coffee Soap we made. It just did not have the quality that we were hoping for. I had a decision to make: I could either destroy thousands of soap bars and take a loss in time and money, or sell them anyways and drop our standards. Considering the marginal impact, this was a big number for us in those early days. I did end up destroying all the soap bars and absorbing the loss. This was also one of my most important decisions because it helped me overcome the fear of making the tough decisions. It helped me realize that long term focus is more important than the knee-jerk, short-term reaction.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I feel that the next batch of good business ideas should be from “smart textiles.” With the next generation asking for more from every aspect of life, why should our textiles and the clothes and shoes we wear be passive? They should be able to communicate back to us and even transform and act smartly as needed. These days, with the available IOT technologies, this is quite possible. One example could be a pair of sports pants that can become less elastic or more elastic based on the activity that we are doing. Maybe the waist band could tighten or loosen as needed. There could be a kneepad with air cushioning for when a fall is detected. These are just a few ideas that I feel could be successful in the future.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I had a dinner date with my wife and that’s definitely the best $100 I’ve spent recently. Without the support and encouragement from her, none of this business stuff would have happened. I think that the harder you work, the more your family has to accommodate and adjust. It is important that we spend enough quality time with them to recognize that. Plus, spending that time with them helps to keep us grounded and sane through all the busy days.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I have been using Amazon Web services and Dropbox from the beginning. I think cloud services are very important for startups. They help small businesses implement cutting edge technologies without the big budget that on premise applications require. This makes you more competitive to the bigger and larger companies without sacrificing financially. Dropbox is also a very useful tool for sharing collaboratively and keeping information safe and accessible anywhere and in any platform. These days mobility is becoming a necessity. I know that we couldn’t run successfully without it.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. This book goes over the two systems found in our mind that can make or break our ability to move forward and succeed in life. The author talks about the fast and emotional system of our mind and the slow, more logical system. Together, they constitute our whole mind. He breaks down the various effects of each system on our success, mentality, confidence, and teachability index. This book is a must-read for young entrepreneurs living in a fast environment.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I have been most influenced by the true market innovators. I’m talking about those inventors or entrepreneurs who have lead the way to the new unique products and processes. They did this when the market was not completely ready and people were skeptical about it, but they went ahead and created the interest in the marketplace and made the consumers understand and start believing in it. There are many who will just ride the wave or use the proven and clichéd business ideas. Yes, they can certainly make money by riding that wave, but those who dare to introduce change in the marketplace have always been able to thrive long term. Elon Musk is one of the modern entrepreneurs who has had an impact on my life. I believe that people like Elon are driven by their passion and dream more than being driven by profit or business itself.

Key Learnings

  • When you think, you have learned something as much as you can, then go and try to find better ways to do the same thing. Don’t be content with what you know at this very moment.
  • I am who I am because of the mistakes I have made and what I learned from them.
  • long term focus is more important than the knee-jerk, short-term reaction.

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