Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2023: Neha Anand, Founder And Managing Director Of Three Layer Hospitality Neha Anand, founder and Managing Director of Three Layer Hospitality, on why it's important for an entrepreneur to find the time that is right for them personally to venture into the business world.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
When it comes to being successful as an entrepreneur, it's often all about getting the timing right, as being too early or too late to enter an industry can make or break a startup. But Neha Anand, founder and Managing Director of Three Layer Hospitality, says that it's also important for an entrepreneur to find the right time for them personally to venture into the business world. "I chose to wait until my children had grown up before embarking on my entrepreneurial journey, viewing motherhood as invaluable work experience," Anand shares. "While some may have started their ventures earlier, I firmly believe that the skills acquired as a parent are just as vital as those honed in the boardroom."
At Three Layer Hospitality, Anand heads an enterprise that manages over 20 restaurants and six brands, which include the UAE-based Jun's, Little Jun's, and Mambo Gourmet Pizza, as well as the India-based Circle of Crust, King's Dairy, and We Idliwale. "These six brands are spread across both the UAE and India, with plans to rapidly expand across the Middle East region, and further across India," Anand explains. "We are aggressively expanding Circle of Crust to Pune in India, which houses the majority of our restaurants, including We Idliwale."
Anand is also a Partner at Kings Group Ventures, which she co-founded in 2011 with her husband Kartik Anand, and has since grown to become a multifaceted business with over 25 brands spanning across 10 industries. "I have ten broad direct reports that I speak to on a daily basis," Anand reveals. "I work hand-in-hand with my Chef Partners for each brand, and I also work with the CEOs/Heads of Operations too, like I do for Noor, our collection of luxury homestay villas which will be launching soon in Goa, and for the lesser-known Kings Dairy manufacturing unity in India, which houses our consumer-packaged good ideas like Kings Ghee and Fuji Cream Ice Cream, which is present in 2,500 retailers across Maharashtra in India."
Neha Anand at Jun's, one of Three Layer Hospitality's concepts. Image courtesy Three Layer Hospitality.
When it comes to success in business, Anand believes it is about creating an environment that is open and approachable, and it's centered on building strong relationships with partners and stakeholders. However, moving to Dubai and replicating the business success she saw in India to now in the UAE posed new leadership challenges, starting with learning how to navigate the highly competitive landscape of the food industry in the Emirate.
"To start working in another country, in a new environment, and in a whole new business that was driven purely by my passion, was a bold move," she says. "When I first started my ventures here, it felt like there was a new restaurant or food delivery service popping up on every corner, and establishing a unique and memorable presence felt like a daunting task. The most challenging situation I faced was finding a way to stand out in a sea of options. I realized that simply offering delicious food would not be enough, this had to be the bare minimum. I had to build a brand that resonated with the people of Dubai, create a distinct culinary experience, and provide exceptional customer service."
So, how did Anand overcome this challenge? First, she conducted in-depth market research to understand the preferences of the 250 different nationalities that make up the population of the city. "To fill gaps in the market, our teams in Three Layer Hospitality dare to be different, introducing distinct homegrown brands, and pioneering new concepts, such as North American Asian cuisine," she says. "The brand also emphasizes inclusivity by catering to a range of dietary requirements, ensuring that every guest feels welcomed and valued." Second, she invested in branding and marketing efforts to create a strong and memorable brand identity, and third, she actively networked with other entrepreneurs in the food industry in Dubai to tap into their knowledge and experiences. "It also led to opportunities like an annual Women's Day Lunch at Jun's, celebrating women's contributions to food and beverage, and co-hosting the first Bold by Veuve Clicquot in Dubai, a program promoting inclusivity and visibility for women in leadership, which helped increase our reach and brand recognition," she adds.
Three Layer Hospitality founder Neha Anand with guests at a Women's Day Lunch organized earlier this year at Jun's. Image courtesy Three Layer Hospitality.
Anand also notes the relevance of a decision she made to focus on remaining resilient and adaptable as an entrepreneur. "The competitive nature of the food industry in Dubai has meant that I faced setbacks and challenges along the way," she admits. "However, I learned to embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. This experience taught me a great deal about myself as a person and a business leader. It showed me that I possess the determination to overcome obstacles, even in the face of fierce competition. I learned the importance of staying focused on my goals, while being flexible in my approach."
And her efforts have certainly borne fruit- as an example, check out Jun's, one of the most recent ventures launched by Three Layer Hospitality, which is a modern fine dining restaurant that Anand developed in partnership with Chef Kelvin Cheung. In just a few months since it opened, it earned a spot on the prestigious MENA's 50 Best Restaurants list; plus, it was awarded selections within Dubai's Michelin Guide 2023, as well as in Gault & Millau UAE's Best Restaurants selection.
Building such a successful venture in Dubai's food industry has thus reinforced Anand's belief in the power of perseverance and the value of continuous learning, but also in the importance of having faith in one's purpose and mission. "As a practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism for the past 14 years, a philosophy that upholds the dignity of each human life in the same measure, I believe if you have faith in your purpose or mission, you are ready to take the next step, and put that faith to practice," Anand reveals. "This belief has helped me keep going whenever I am caught in a slump or lack motivation. Aside from my own practice of gratitude, I feel so much joy -and I am so grateful- for the value of creation that I can bring to the business and my teams. There is no greater motivator than seeking out and seeing purpose in every step we are taking at Three Layer Hospitality, and watching our team grow and thrive, especially so quickly."
Neha Anand, founder and Managing Director Of Three Layer Hospitality. Image courtesy Three Layer Hospitality.
'TREP TALK: Three Layer Hospitality founder and Managing Director Neha Anand shares her tips for entrepreneurs
Do what you love "Only do what you are absolutely passionate about, and what brings you the most joy. Business will always be hard, and that passion will help push you forward and through the challenging times, ultimately leading to greater success waiting at the end."
Invest in financial planning "There is no substitute for hard work, but financial planning is just as important. Create a comprehensive three-year plan, and invest your resources wisely. Preparing for the future economic landscape is important, but it is equally vital to have short-term financial strategies to guide investments and maximize productivity in the present."
Always be true to yourself "When you do things from your heart and for the joy of it, you have found the path to success."