Dipali is an ace entrepreneur of several organisations motivated by the mantra of extraordinary engagement, incomparable services, and enviable client success. She incepted her entrepreneurial journey 22 years ago because motherhood was the necessity for invention.“In the late ’90s, accepting a strained marriage and that too a few weeks to go before you deliver your first baby was a difficult pill to swallow and seemed to be the end of the world but was not the end of the world. As they say, what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly!” she reminisced.
From delivering her son Aditya without her husband to getting back to work in one week, to raising him in her parents’ home, Dipali’s journey personifies the struggle of a single mother. As her son grew up, she realised her goals are bigger than a small Bangalore based company in the then growing telecom world heading human resources. Her quest for something exciting led her to grab the opportunity to study human resources deployments in China while staying in Singapore. This change meant doing everything from bills, shopping, laundry, cooking, groceries and so forth herself instead of focusing on work and enjoying time with her baby after working hours.
She found her Eureka moment as she dreamt of an all-purpose coordinator, a home guru, an errand runner, a Merlin, and a Houdini that would become the first-ever corporate concierge programme in the World: Les Concierges. This led to her sabbatical from work, moving to Bangalore, working on her solution, and positioning her company to the HR community in the ballooning IT world that was blossoming in Bangalore at that time. Brands like IBM, Infosys, Accenture, Wipro, HP, Mascot, and many more trusted Dipali’s solutions.
Her latest venture, Mindscapes, the brainchild, and passion project of Dipali Sikand, rows the boat of her entrepreneurial daring and is a platform that she has built to transform the future with originality, intellect, creativity, and innovation. It brings together game-changers, movement-makers, the bold and fierce leaders from across India and gives them an experience of a lifetime, in turn gaining customer loyalty and commitment.
In an exclusive conversation, Dipali shared about various aspects of her journey. Edited excerpts:
Dipali: There were many other professional and business highs and challenges and plenty of personal ones. In 2002, Mr Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the ace investor acquired a substantial portion of Les Concierges to help us broaden our geographical spread and deepen our talent pool. We won some of the most prestigious contracts now not only in India but Dubai, Singapore, Japan, South Africa. Our work had reached so many shores and people were simply delighted to work with us.
However, in 2008, when the 2008 economy crash began, it hit one of our international contracts worth 5 million dollars in revenues for which was by then leveraged and set up operations in Dubai, Singapore, and more countries for organic growth. The Internet of Things had come pervading down and there were "Free "options being offered for precisely the work we used to do and charge our clients for.
Online Bill payment companies managed to pay bills faster than our brick-and-mortar gophers. Travel aggregates were churning holiday deals with 50% discounts along with flowers and chocolates were delivered with a click of a button. It looked as if e-commerce was going to destroy the concierge industry that we had steadily built and nurtured all these years.
One after the other, things hit down upon me. Each day was a challenge. Someone asked me then "how do go on despite having gone through so much." My answer was “I am a survivor, not a victim”. Those that master their mind create their destiny and if you don't then you will be a slave a victim of destiny. Victims make excuses and leaders deliver results. You need to always keep your doors and windows open to yourself and even in adversity never lose hope or be vulnerable or despair.
At those moments, search for the sun, for even if the world is making you see it through dark glasses, remember there will be sunlight after the rain.
Dipali: I surmounted the challenges with my committed team, loyal clients who have faith in the value we create and the most gracious family, and my approach to innovate and create new value throughout the challenging times.
So, when Les Concierges had been wrecked financially, we had to run current operations and pay back loans which meant we had to more than treble our earning capacities in death-defying circumstances, do this practically overnight if we had any chances of surviving, and keep our stealth and keep moving till we got on top of our game. It was not an easy task as I look back today. But it was the advent of one of the most creative and innovative times for the company.
We saw a huge increase in the need for our services by companies to empower and engage our client’s employees. Our lesson learnt is: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” So, not only did this help us build back Les Concierges and put it back on its feet stronger than ever before, on the profit mode and a much-experienced company, we managed to pay back every single loan and we are proud to stand here and say we are externally debt-free and 100% compliant.
One of the outcomes of the failure we faced was also innovation. In this time, with the reputation of our company to deliver amazing employee experience solutions, I discovered several other opportunities that lead us to innovate and create further products and services. Where do we live? Where do our kids go to school? What if that social link could have access to a genie that could take away stress as well and bring back fun to your life? While good neighbours help bring back smiles, a great Concierge service would help elevate life.
Hence, we launched a private social, assistance and enjoyment link for all members in a community and we have called this Community Social. Some of the country's top developers have retained us to do this for their new residential communities including Godrej, Tatas, Ireo, Kolte Patl, Kanakia and many more. If I had to choose today to invest in an entrepreneur Id invest in one that has failed and still hasn't given up!
Dipali: Rooting from the experience as I launched out into the world with ideas, business plans, and market-conquest offerings, let me give you a few words of advice that apply to all entrepreneurs regardless of your business. This is what I call my 4 P's
Passion with a purpose: Build your company like you'll own it forever. Building a business is not a hobby that funds your lifestyle.
Personalisation: We must recognise that we are in the business of people no matter what we do. Hence, always start with knowing who your customer is.
Perspective: The world today is about innovation and creativity. Hence, a fresh perspective can overpower creating new products or concepts.
Profit is King: Every aspect of the business from technology to accounting can be delegated but you cannot delegate the vigilant focus on generating profit.
Becoming an entrepreneur is the path you have chosen. Be forewarned that this is the road less travelled. The destination is limitless--get on the road. Don't travel the road alone. Surround yourself with entrepreneurs who have already gone down the path you are just starting to travel. They love the road, and most will be willing to walk alongside. I for one am happy to be of assistance to any of you at any time. Carpe Diem. Seize the moment!