Entrepreneurship Is a Mindset

V Resorts, on its own, is not a typical startup in woman sector — it is not fashion, healthcare, lingerie, interior decoration, or content for that matter. V Resorts is aggregation of premium properties (4-rooms to 30-rooms) at offbeat and emerging locations, where it aims to present curated properties for an experiential holiday

In 2014, when the Founder of V Resorts decided to quit, I moved from the role of a nominee director to full-time CEO, building the company from scratch with new management and model.

V Resorts, on its own, is not a typical startup in woman sector — it is not fashion, healthcare, lingerie, interior decoration, or content for that matter. V Resorts is aggregation of premium properties (4-rooms to 30-rooms) at offbeat and emerging locations, where it aims to present curated properties for an experiential holiday.

In that sense, it goes a step further beyond Airbnb and HomeAway by layering small properties with professional handling and creating seamless experience delivered by technology.

So, while it has strong HQ work, it also involves heavy-duty extensive travel to remote locations and managing a blue-collar workforce under a woman’s leadership. The role required me to travel to stabilise operations, and also acquire new properties at different locations and lead the business to greater growth and expansion.

The new model allowed us to increase ARR (average room rate) to INR 4500 from earlier INR 3000 (a jump of 50%), maintain cost structure to enable resort break-even at 20% occupancy levels and reduce payback periods to 1 year (unheard of in hospitality). This allowed the company to scale from 5 resorts in 2014 to over 150 resorts across 20 states in India in 2019 and with over 3000 people under the workforce. A proprietary technology management system was deployed to manage remote operations at resorts.

The Venture saw 3 successive rounds of capital raised from institutional investors like CDC, Seedfund and Avendus. We raised a total of $10 million of which $8 million was deployed in technology, manpower and operations.

Gross revenues touched Rs. 60 cr in 2019 with efficient capital deployment, unlike many funded startups in our genre. We also started realising the impact that we were creating at the ground/community level inherent in our business model.

At the recently held 15th UNWTO Awards in St Petersburg, V Resorts has been recognised and awarded for its efforts in sustainable tourism. To enable continued growth and expansion, V Resorts have merged with a strategic player backed by marquee private equity investors.

Do you think that one needs past working experience to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is a mindset. My father, after graduating from IIM (A) did not want to work for someone else and has always been an entrepreneur. Look at the kids from IITs. All of the entrepreneurship lineage.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

Covid has affected all businesses. And because we were operating offbeat resorts we practically shut down all our places. But due to the pent up demand of people who are fed up being locked in for so many months, we are beginning again on a strong foothold.

Which is your favourite quote and what connects you to it?

My favourite quote is from my favourite poem Invictus that correctly defines the startup culture and how one has to have control over extraneous circumstances — I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

What are your tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

To be an entrepreneur a person must be clear that it is a tough path. And suited to those who have the high risk-taking ability. Or are clear that they cannot work for others, only for themselves.

Which book would you like to recommend to our readers and why?

Hard things about hard things — a perfect book for a newbie in startups. To understand how to run companies and to understand that every day there is a new obstacle that needs to be overcome.

Originally published at https://www.eatmy.news.

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Aditi Balbir

Founder V Resorts, largest eco-tourism chain in India. Champion of sustainability. Winner UNWTO 2019. Strong network of Women Entrepreneurs.