Rakka Rakkappan may have found the path to happiness and he is sharing the news with the world.
Rakka is a serial entrepreneur who immigrated from India in 2005. His entrepreneurial journey began when, with support from friends and family, he launched himself into the IT consulting business in Kingston – a location he saw as being the perfect middle ground between Toronto and Ottawa.
Seven years later, after discovering how difficult it can be to land government contracts when you are not a ‘preferred vendor’, Rakka switched gears and tried his hand at real estate and mortgage lending. It finally dawned on him that the downfall of service businesses is they only work as long as you have time to sell.
“It’s easy to make money – the secret is finding a way to make time,” he said. “Living in a smaller city like Kingston helps. But if you’re a product company, rather than a service company, you can be in any country you want and be as big as you want.”
In 2016, he acquired an automotive garage to open Maple Car Wash – partly to service taxis he had acquired and partly to provide office space. That business took on a life of its own and Rakka now offers limousine services and related products.
Still, Rakka’s dream was to create a global product brand he and his wife Uma could own. But what to focus on? Inspiration hit during a popular local pastime.
“I was watching a hockey game and drinking a mass-produced beer and I was not really enjoying it,” he said. “You shouldn’t be chugging your beer. You should be sipping it and enjoying it like you would a glass of wine. It should be an experience.”
Thus, Maple Sports Ale was born. The unique beverage is brewed and sold in both Ontario and Belgium, and available for sale in the United States and India. In the future, Rakka hopes to bring the beer to Australia and the United Kingdom though it has already made a trip to the British Isles.
During the 2019 Worldwide Beer Awards held in London, Maple took bronze in the Belgian ale category. “For a twoyear-old company, that’s pretty good,” Rakka said. “We’re hoping to up our game and win gold next time. It’s not marketed as a premium beer, but those who enjoy it can decide for themselves.”
Rakka aims to supplement his Belgian ale with a lager and is expanding into other beverage markets. He has started a bottled water line under the Maple name and is also importing wines from South Africa and Australia.
“We are looking for some space to eventually open a vineyard and brewery in the Kingston or Prince Edward County area and we hope to export Ontario wines in the future,” he said.
Rakka has also begun exporting the most Canadian of condiments: maple syrup.
“Obviously, with our name, we wanted to add something sweet to our lineup,” he said. “We produce a darker syrup unlike what you would normally find in the grocery store.”
Rakka has learned a few lessons during his many business ventures. While not all of his ideas have been successful, he realized he could impart his wisdom to other prospective entrepreneurs to help them avoid some of the costly mistakes he made along the way.
One of his major projects for 2020 was a free educational website called www.lifesquares.ca.
“If I can even save one person some time and money, it’s worth the investment for me,” Rakka says. “Everyone can be an entrepreneur as long as you have the right drive and as long as you are happy!”