How 29 year old Trushar Khetia built billion empire business in a span of three years

Trushar Khetia

Young, Ambitious and Innovative

How many hours do you spend in traffic jams every day? Indeed, traffic and congestion is one of the major nightmares for many people living in Nairobi. Apparently, the issue seems not to end any time soon as more and more people are buying cars and others moving into the city.

While many view it as chaotic, for Trushar Khetia however, it was an opportunity in disguise. In 2013, the young executive founded Tria Group, an outdoor advertising company that uses public transport vehicles to market leading consumer goods. “The whole idea came about after I simply looked at the public transport sector and realized how people spend much of their time in traffic,” says Khetia. That is how he founded a niche in the transit media sector.

Having studied and worked abroad, he realized that almost all buses had advertisements, unlike here in Kenya where the opportunity was barely utilized. Besides, being exposed to heavy public transport when he was a student inspired him to do creative things. Khetia says that it was the uniqueness of the transit media that made it easier to break into the Kenyan market.

Today, the public transport industry has evolved in terms of media advertising and it has become increasingly accepted. “We have clients reaching us, unlike before when we had to persist to get business.”

Tria Group has also diversified to what Khetia calls “out of home media”. This is a great opportunity for the company since people are spending more and more time out and about. “We are targeting bus shelters and so far we have put up seventeen bus stops at prime locations in Nairobi,” he says. The bus stops not only act as public shelter or a platform for advertisers to market their products; but they also act as a business spot as each of them has a kiosk.

The company has also expanded to mall advertisement and is already in Thika Road Mall and Sarit Center. Here, customers get a chance to interact with the brands in a more relaxing environment. Furthermore, the company has ventured into airline advertisement.

Tria Group has presence in Kenya and Tanzania and has been able to serve some of the major corporate among them Coca-Cola, Dell, Google, HP and Unilever.

Venturing into the retail sector

About one and half years on from the launch of the Tria Group, Khetia decided to diversify his business with the launch of Society Stores. The retail venture has become one of the most popular supermarkets.

“In business, you have to keep on diversifying,” he says.

His passion for owning a chain of retail stores started during childhood, having been brought up in a business environment. Besides, most of his previous employments were within the retail sector, while in Tria, most of his clients deal with Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).

Trushar cuts a ribbon to open Society Stores Supermarket in Maua
Trushar cuts a ribbon to open Society Stores Supermarket in Maua

“Our business strategy is acquisition,” he reveals. Khetia opened his first Society Stores shop in November 2014, after acquiring an established supermarket in Thika.  The business has grown exponentially in a span of two years from one to five stores spread in Thika, Meru, Maua, Kayole and Naivasha. He is set to launch another store in Limuru. Out of these, four have been acquisitions of existing businesses, while the rest have been built from ground.

Khetia chose to locate his stores up-country and in busy agricultural towns as he feels that is where the opportunity lies.

By putting up the retail chain, the young entrepreneur is happy that he has changed the lives of many people.  Starting with only 60 employees, today, Society Stores has raised the number to 380. He has also developed some of his staff from junior positions to managerial levels. “Seeing other people grow is what gives an entrepreneur the feeling of satisfaction,” offers Khetia.

Rewarding experience

The experience of starting and running your own business appears easy from the outside, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities and sacrifices.

Khetia observes that there is no tougher examination of one’s abilities than running a business. However, with passion and determination, he has build two successful ventures in a span of three years. For him, that has been a learning experience that has stretched his capacity and he believes he has become a better business person.

As the chief executive officer and founder of Tria Group and Society Stores, Khetia is responsible for managing the day to day running of the businesses, selling and maintaining client relationships.

He has transformed his company from a start-up to a corporate.

He was also recognized by Forbes for the 2nd year running as one of ‘Africa’s 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in 2016.

Going forward, Khetia plans to start a radio station hopefully by 2017, and open up a disruptive online store by 2020.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

Khetia urges young people to let their passion manifest during tough times. “Sometimes we do not realize that we are so close to the finishing line. Most people quit when they are just about to cross that line.”