Travel experiences become memorable when the assistance and other support solutions are provided to the travellers. The dire need of an hour is piping a new approach in travelling and lodging services. Aditi Balbir pondered over the idea of identifying new dimension in travel and tourism stream. In this process of reflection, she ideated a startup VResorts.
Entrepreneur caught up with Aditi Balbir to explore her startup and her journey as an entrepreneur.
Work experience and educational background
I pursued a dual degree in Law from Symbiosis and MBA from Infinity Business School. I then joined a private equity firm, Barings as an analyst. Then, I joined the private Equity firm, Bedrock. It was during my stint with Bedrock, the inception of V Resorts was ideated.
My core strength is finance and legal, but of course, they come in handy in a start-up, but what supports my role as a CEO in V Resorts is my extensive travel experience.
Path chosen to be an entrepreneur and career vision
I believe that nobody is a born entrepreneur. Most of the people have a strong belief in their passion and live up to it, which makes them an entrepreneur. While working with Bedrock, I saw a huge gap in the travel segment whereby, there was no one providing a standardsied weekend experiences. An instinct came from a personal experience which presented a business opportunity to me. I took a risk, invested money, left my stable job and leaped ahead to realize my dream. My vision was to turn every nook and corner of India into a travel destination.
Conceptualization of startup brand
I stumbled upon the business idea while working with Bedrock Ventures while conducting research for them. With my love for travel as an incentive, I left my career in a VC to start V Resorts in 2011. I saw a huge gap in people’s desires and the output they received. People who wish to travel to new and unexplored destinations face the following challenges – lack of information, inability to trust the information and reliance on travel agents to book and manage their holidays. I decided to provide customers with information that he/she can trust and verify. Once at the resort, we ensure that guest experience is standardised as per our brand promise.
Innovation behind the brand name
'V' can stand for many things. For us, it could mean vacation, valley, village, vintage, vertigo, variety, voyage and view. But the one stand-out element all across our resorts is one - every room, in the properties it manages, should have a good view. Let’s say ata a resort in Sattal, it is the crystal clear sparkling green waters of the Sattal lake; at Ramgarh, a 180 degree view of the snow-capped Himalayan range; at Bandhavgarh, it is an astonishing view of the wild woods; and at Sariska in Sraiska National Park, it could be ancient ruins, forest, lake, birds. Hence, V is (view) Resorts! But, then it is open to imagination.
Driving towards success with business model
V Resorts is developing new destinations for tourism. Each property of this resort chain is often the only commercial centre in the area and highly relies on local resources to help run its places. We don’t own our resorts as we are completely asset light, but we manage and operate them.
For customers who want to travel to new destinations and explore parts of India, we promise a seamless standardized experience – from searching for information, making a booking, reaching the place to experiencing the local appeal of that destination. We are solving the problem of consistent experiences in the leisure travel segment across India.
Boosting inspiration source
A vision – we want to make each part of India as beautiful, exciting and pristine as any hamlet and village in Europe. This vision keeps me going. Also, I don't want to rely on the foreign market, but want to create travel best suited for Indians. We aim for not just Make In India but Make For India.
Reasons to unwind and relax
I am very passionate about writing. Even amidst my hectic schedule of being a CEO, I maintain a regular blog and keep writing for newspapers and magazines. I am also working on my first book. It uses the past and present socio-economic conditions of the country as a backdrop and insight to dissect the prevalent human psyche in India.
I am even fascinated by everything related to food, fashion and travel. What intrigues me is how these three go hand in hand, complement each other and balance each other out to create poetry.
Startup that made life convenient
Uber has fundamentally changed the way we commute. Amazon has fundamentally changed the way we read, makemytrip has changed the way we book tickets, Goodearth and Nicobar has changed the design philosophy in India. Forest Essentials has changed our essentials/FMCG products.
Tips for beginners
As I have already mentioned, one should be passionate and have belief in things being undertaken. Play on your strengths and be humble and wise enough to take advice on aspects you don't know much about. Also, for starters, expect days of sunshine, days of rain, days of snow, and long days of winter, before the sun comes up finally again. Beginners need to keep a few key points in mind: Be singular in purpose, have a mentor, have a COO and trust your instincts.
Role played by family in success
Without a stable ecosystem in terms of your family support, it is a battle everyday to reach your goals. It is especially true for women. I can say, behind a successful/brave woman working towards her dreams, is definitely her family. My parents, husband and even son are the oxygen of my life. They take up many roles, hear me crib, stand by, ready to support me when I fall, , cheer me up, listen to me, even about mundane office updates, and most importantly never let me quit.
Mentor guiding in entrepreneurial journey
I am lucky enough to have the Board of Directors as mentors. Shailesh Vikram Singh of Seedfund and Vivek Bihani of Bedrock have been instrumental in guiding and helping me in taking the company to a new level.