Aditi Balbir on Maharajas of Scale talks about pivoting, scaling, creating impact and profitability in local India
Aditi Balbir(@aditi_balbir) loved travelling and stumbled upon V Resorts(@VResortsChain). As a VC, she fell in love with a portfolio company. She took the plunge and navigated through the destination called Entrepreneurship, adding ‘Views’ to the resorts and providing glimpses of the local world.
In this episode, she talks about her unique model, now recognized by the UN. She routes through the hospitality business’ nuances, competition and what is not competition. She shows how women are breaking the glass ceiling. Much like her venture itself, Aditi is a confident Maharani, offbeat and recreating profitable India from the grassroots itself.
Here are some interesting excerpts from the conversation of Aditi Balbir on Maharajas of Scale
I’ve never really had any thoughts of becoming an entrepreneur to be very honest, I’ve always thought of myself as a professional. Travel is my first love. So when the opportunity came, I really thought that – here’s my chance to do something interesting. And trust me when I tell you, for anybody who’s making ppts and excel sheets for a living, they’d love the switch.
I’m actually really figuring out why we do all these things. What part of the MBA program is structured to take you through real life? I have no idea. So no, I really don’t think so. To a large extent, I must say my law degree helped me a lot actually. So in fact, I would suggest that anybody who wants to do anything in life needs to first understand the laws that are governing that particular industry. I’m very comfortable and I’m very happy reading all complex documents myself.
But the real art I must tell you often entrepreneurs need is how to write an email, and that life can’t prepare you for that. So there are times when there are hard times, when you have to write to your employees. There are times where you have to beg investors for money, you have to write very delicate mails. And I think that’s really the core.
If you read the reviews of our hotels, they will usually name a person and say, this guy was fabulous, and you did a great job in making our stay comfortable, and so on so forth. So we really figured very quickly that this was our manpower model.
Now, the second thing that we figured was that as hospitality companies have everything centralized for them. So we started looking for local entrepreneurs and local vendors. And we had to come up with a 100% procurement policy, which was local.
Then the third thing we figured was that our staff is mostly male. Now the women are at home, they’re doing nothing. So we involved them in something creative. We told them to start making interesting products. We figured that we could package them interestingly, and we saw that customers were very keen to see what they’re doing, and to buy the products that they were making.
This model actually has been recognized by the United Nations as the First model coming out of a developing country, which really looks at using the resources of a developing country and is perfect for that, and create something called a circular economy, which is what the United Nations sees is the way forward if I was to survive in the next 10 years or so. So, very interestingly, we kind of just stumbled across this local model. And it’s really done wonders for us. People are sticky, people stay with us. People are sticky, they don’t want to leave because mostly we are the only commercial center in that village.
In fact, I would say that the hero of our model, and the reason why we can, not only scale, but we can take up properties where traffic does not exist, which means that we can actually develop destinations as against a Ginger or someone who has to look for a destination where the footfalls are already there. So the hero of our story is basically the fact that we are able to, or our cost structure allows us to break even at a 20% occupancy level.
Being a lady helped me in at least from the operational standpoint. I think these guys were in shock. I infact have lots of photos with some locals where they looked very shocked. Honestly, I haven’t really found anything but in terms of the investing space, I must say that definitely a glass ceiling somewhere. Somehow women aren’t really taken too seriously or they are not able to raise the $1 billion. So in fact, I was reading this article on why the women are not getting the one billion dollar project. And I came across an article which said that last year globally, there were 28 women whose businesses had crossed the $1 billion mark. So I guess we’re getting there. But “han kahin pe to hai, thoda sa glass ceiling to hai”
Aditi Balbir on Maharajas of Scale shares her story, filled with a passionate view of how to scale while keeping the local authenticity of India intact.
Read more about Aditi @foundersdiary
Learn more about V Resorts
Read about UNWTO and VResorts
Here is a word cloud with some interesting words used through the episode
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