Sunday, November 16, 2003

New-age entrepreneur: young, dynamic and successful
Avinash Kalla

What would you do if you were all of 28 years, a high-flying marketing manager in a multinational and single? Would you be putting in that extra bit to reach the top of the corporate ladder? If the answer is yes, you are a conventional corporate animal. According to the new management jargon, your next step would be to become a dynamic entrepreneur.

Today, the concept of success has altered so dramatically that attaining the numero uno spot in an office is not necessarily the done thing among young B-school grads. They are changing track and venturing where few have gone before.

Marya Gaurav
Marya Gaurav: Franchising solutions

Take the case of Marya Gaurav, the chairman of Franchise India Holding Limited. The 29-year-old electronics engineering student of D.Y. Patil Engineering College, Pune, first set up Career Consultants, the first of its kind registered firm that guided students to seek admissions in various engineering colleges. Since then, he has ventured into 18 different businesses in a career spanning over eight years.

"Growth is my mantra. I feel that an individual must grow everyday, there must be some addition to his or her skills," says Gaurav whose company, in its fifth year, boasts of 26 offices in India and three abroad, including one each in Australia, Canada and Dubai.

"An entrepreneur is neither an inventor nor a leader. He is somewhere in between, he is the one who locates an opportunity and organises things accordingly to make the most out of it," he says.

Gaurav says he got the idea when he went to the USA. "There, I found franchising being done everywhere. It clicked in my mind and I thought why not start the same service in our country."

Today, Gauravís company provides complete franchising solutions and has five major divisions, including a publication providing business opportunities, a consultancy service, a website, a recruitment service that provides trained franchise managers to industry and an event management outfit which aims at holding franchising events across the country. The latest addition is a new division that will counsel young people planning to go abroad and study.

Ritu Dalmia
Ritu Dalmia: Recipe for success

Unlike Gaurav, Ritu Dalmia did not taste success in her first venture. Coming from a Marwari family, Ritu ventured into the world of business in her teens. " I wanted to be on my own and do things that I like, this is what made me start so early," says Ritu, who joined her family business of marble stone at 16 and left it when she was 22 because "I was bored of selling stone, " as she puts it. During her six-year stint in the marble business, she travelled to Italy innumerable times and thus started her fascination with Italian cuisine. Back home, this 22-year-old girl then took her first step in the world of restaurants and started the Italian eatery Mezzaluna in Delhi offering Mediterranean cuisine with an Italian focus.

It was a failure and she had to close it down after running it in losses for three years. "It flopped because it was way ahead of its time, I misjudged the taste of Indians at that time as they were not ready for international cuisines and were happy with their tried-and-tested fare," admits Ritu.

But not the one to sit and lick the wounds of failure, this dynamic woman went to London in 1996 and along with a partner opened Vama, dishing out exotic Indian delicacies in a glamorous setting. This time she hit the nail right on the head and soon Vama became the favourite spot for celebrities like Martina Navratilova, Bryan Adams, Dame Maggie Smith, Rowan Atkinson, Mick Hucknall, Tony Curtis, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and more.

Boredom crept in again and she returned back. She started her second innings again in Delhi with an Italian restaurant Diva. Her timing was perfect as the Indian people were more into food experimentation now. In its third year now, Diva is a huge hit among Delhiites and boasts of a long list of clientele. Other than that, she has two more restaurants, one in the Italian Embassy that specially caters to the need of the diplomatic community and another in South Delhi.

So whatís her secret of success, "I feel that destiny plays an important role, but apart from that you need to be the best in the field. Second best does not have a chance, so if you feel that you are not the best then donít waste your time and energy in a venture," opines Ritu.

Nandita Singha
Nandita Singha: Sporting a positive attitude

If Ritu attributes it to destiny, then Nandita Singha, Managing Director, Total Presentation Devices, owes it all to motivation coupled with bone-crunching hard work. " You write your own destiny," says Nandita, a former member of the national volley ball team.

Though sports has always been her first love, she believes a sportsperson must have something to fall back upon. So, she did a technical course in video conferencing. She set up her company in 1995 with two clients. Today, eight years down the line she has a staff strength of 90 with a countrywide customer base and 10 offices across India. Her client list boasts of names like Hindustan Lever, Philips, Ranbaxy, Proctor & Gamble, IITs, IIMs, the Indian Army and others.

Hemang Pandit
Hemang Pandit: Starry site

"It is nothing but an obsession to chase your dream that makes things happen," says the 28-year-old Hemang Pandit, founder of Siddhivinayak Astrological Services.

Even after climbing the organisational ladder quickly and becoming the national head of Hutchison Telecom in a small span of five years, this young man quit it all and ventured into providing astrological services on the web.

Says Pandit, "Thereís an enormous potential in the Indian astrology market which is estimated to be in excess of Rs 2,000 crore and is growing rapidly. I thought why not be the first one to go ahead and provide everyone with accurate astrological services and make a business out of it," says 28-year-old Pandit, who has partnered with Bejan Daruwala to provide services through personal interaction, on the phone, Net, SMS, GRPS and of course, the snail mail. "Itís all a matter of being in the right place at the right time."

There are no shortcuts to success, adds Pandit. "The only way to achieve it is to put your nose to the grind. And if you want to achieve it early in life, the task becomes all the more challenging."

But for these young entrepreneurs challenges are meant to be surmounted and winning is a way of life. Interestingly, though in different professions, their route to success is the same: think smart, work hard and stay focussed.

ó Newsmen Features