CSSH'16, DMSB'16

The Fabric of Entrepreneurship and Family Business

“Running a family business, there are a lot of challenges that come up on a day to day and week to week basis,” says Prasan Shah, a graduate of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and D’Amore-McKim School of Business in 2016. “[Northeastern] further expanded my skill set [to overcome these challenges]…by being around people and all walks of life. That was a big takeaway for me from being at Northeastern and living in Boston.” 

Shah, currently splitting his time between New York City’s famed Murray Hill and his hometown of Chennai, India, grew up surrounded by fabric and sewing machines. Over five decades ago, his grandfather compiled a list of clients of America’s “greatest retailers” with the intention of manufacturing their clothing. As the business, now known as Original Madras Trading Company, became an established name in its respective industry, it was passed down to his father—Shah, on the other hand, had “little to no intention of ever joining [his] family business.”

However, in the spring of 2013, Shah enrolled in a family business course at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “It was one of those classes where everything clicked,” Shah recalls. “What that class made me realize is that I’m very lucky to have this base which my father and grandfather worked very hard to create…it made me realize that there are businesses that are bigger and smaller than ours, but a lot of family businesses go through the same challenges as mine. I have Northeastern to thank for that.”

With his newfound passion for his family business and direction for his professional career, Shah added a supply chain major to the international relations degree he had been pursuing. Upon graduation, Shah began work at Original Madras Trading Company with one goal in mind—to preserve the roots of the company’s ethos while maintaining adaptability in a contemporary market. After nearly a decade of work, in the spring of 2020, it was his idea to pivot from manufacturing and build upon the company’s established brand that celebrates the culture of Madras. 

Today, Shah credits his time at Northeastern with providing him the fabric to weave this new business initiative. “It was at Northeastern that I learned a brand is what creates and holds value,” he says. Using what he learned as a Husky with expansion imminent, Shah is constantly travelling across the globe, selling his brand from the American west coast to Japan. “The great thing about the Northeastern experience is that you’re exposed to people from all over the world…you learn what makes people click, which helps me as an international businessman.”

You can learn more about Original Madras Trading Company by following them on Instagram.

“Take full advantage of the Northeastern experience—we have such a great network and resources that it would be silly not to take advantage of them.”

Prasan shah, CSSH’16, DMSb’16