Aiming For the Stars

Building a company is no easy task, whether it’s raising funds for investment, building a team, or conquering an audience. The key here is to establish a goal, believe in your vision, and work steadily towards achieving your objectives. As the founder of a company, you don’t have just one role to play; instead there’s a list of functions – leader, salesperson, recruiter, fundraiser, product developer, marketer and more. If you think being an entrepreneur is difficult, being a young entrepreneur is even tougher. With less experience than their elder counterparts, young entrepreneurs are still challenged to produce the same outcome as the latter. While some young founders are still struggling to be successful, there are many who’ve garnered appreciation for their work. This week You & I caught up with some of the city’s young entrepreneurs from various fields who’ve not only gained success but have created a bit of a buzz around town. Take a look.         - Niharika


Anjana Reddy, Founder of Wrogn, Imara, and Ms. Taken

The idea to start the business came to Anjana while pursuing her Master’s in Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She saw an opportunity to build a brand, and moved back to India after graduating in 2011. Subsequently, Sachin Tendulkar also thought the time was right to launch branded merchandise, and came on board as a partner. The company then got funded by Accel Partners, one of the leading venture capital firms in the world, and which has funded companies like Facebook, Angry Birds, Flipkart, etc. The idea of Wrogn is to build brands in the youth fashion space. Anjana says, “We saw a gap in the market on brands focussing solely on the youth, so we decided to enter the space. We now have three brands: Wrogn with Virat Kohli that focuses on men’s casual wear; Imara with Shraddha Kapoor features women’s ethnic wear; and Ms.Taken with Kriti Sanon in the women’s Western casual wear space.” As a founder, Anjana is involved in all aspects of the business. But over the years she’s built a good team that shares the workload. “The joy of actually building something from bottom up is what I truly enjoy. I like the challenges that come with each day,” she says.

Sumit and Amit Vanjani, Executive Directors, Unique Lighting Solutions

Founders of Unique Lighting Solutions, brother Sumit and Amit Vanjani started the company in 2007, keeping in mind the revolution of the lighting industry through LED lighting technology. As the name suggests, the aim behind starting this company was to bring in unique lighting solutions concepts and expand the horizon of the lighting industry in the state. “The main idea was to focus on the impact of what light designing brings about in a project, whether it is architectural, interior or landscape,” explains Sumit. As founders, the brothers’ primary roles are to keep innovating new ideas and products, which in turn will help the entire lighting industry. Currently, the company’s primary focus is on the Make in India Mission. Unique Lighting Solutions is taking aggressive steps to promote manufacturing products in Hyderabad, thereby putting India on the global map for the lighting manufacturing industry. On a lighter note, when asked what he enjoys most about his work, Sumit says, “I personally enjoy designing the lighting scope for any project, and it also gives me pride when we assemble and manufacturer lights for a better India.”

Bhargavi Yerram, Owner, Punjab Grill

Having started her company, Beyond Food, in 2015, Bhargavi launched her first restaurant project ‘Punjab Grill’, in August this year. After pursuing a masters degree in Business Administration from Cardiff University, she went on to help her father in his business as Marketing Director of ‘Robotouch’, a company that deals in massage and fitness equipment.

It was the right fusion of inherited business acumen, precise decision making sense, effective strategy making and above all, absolute passion for the F & B industry that drove her to launch Beyond Food. The main concept of the restaurant is “gourmet fine dining with a Punjabi spirit”, she says, adding that there’s a lot to love about Punjab Grill— it’s perfect location offers a stunning view of the KBR Park, the interiors reflect a certain elegance of an era gone by, the furniture and furnishings display sophistication and an attention to detail, and the cutlery are all examples of pure class.
However, it’s the aroma of the food and the captivating taste, with flavours that are authentically Punjabi, that owe to the success of the restaurant. Talking about her role, Bhargavi says, “Owning your own restaurant can be exciting and lucrative but there is a lot of hard work and dedication required to run a successful business. My role as a restaurant owner has all of the responsibilities of maintaining and running the business, sometimes also as a Restaurant Manager.”

The ultimate goal, she says, is making sure the customers are always happy. It’s a real balancing act between making sure the staff is happy, restaurant food is always up to the mark, and guests have a full belly and a big smile after their meal, and Bhargavi has managed to do it all on point. 

Shikha and Snigdha Reddy, Co-Founders, Chapter One

Started out of a sheer love of fashion, Chapter One exhibition was conceptualised by Shikha and Snigdha Reddy to establish a name in the fashion industry and be associated with designers on a personal level. The first season of the exhibition was held in January, and they’ve already completed two successful seasons, with a third one coming up on November 5th.

The fashionable duo seek to bring designers from across India under one roof. “We look for designers with their own unique style. Whether it is a one-person army or someone who supplies to a chain of stores, all our designers go through a strict screening before being selected, as we only want the best for our clients,” they explain.

From planning the event to deciding the names of the participants, everything is discussed by both partners before it is finalised. “Since Chapter One takes place only twice or thrice a year, we do not have anyone working for us. We take care of the bookings, marketing and every other tiny detail related to the company ourselves. Hence, it is even more dear to us,” they explain. Besides, meeting new amazing people and exchanging ideas to help each other grow are what they enjoy most about their work.

Jayanti Rajagopalan, Owner, Detours

Jayanti Rajagopalan (a.k.a. Jonty) started Detours about eight years ago with an aim to showcase the country differently. Essentially a tour company that organises tours for individuals and small groups in Hyderabad, Detours helps guests experience Hyderabad through the people, the cuisine, its culture and the crafts. “Storytelling and interacting rather than just ‘seeing’ things plays a big role in understanding the city better,” says Jayanti, adding, “For me, history, the culture, people, food, and the crafts contribute to the way a country is today, rather than just the old monuments. It had been on my mind for several years, and I managed to find the confidence to quit my job at the Gates Foundation and start this venture.”

Apart from coming up with the experiences, Jayanti also leads tours for the guests. Being a small company, she is involved in almost everything - from coming up with marketing plans to being the courier person!

Showing people the city and watching them enjoy the experiences is what gives Jayanti the greatest joy. “Watching them try the food, be amazed by the crafts, and also gainingan understanding of the unique culture of this city makes me very proud. And of course, meeting people from different parts of the world and getting to know more about their culture and history is an added benefit,” she concludes.

Niraj Taksande, Jigar Vora, Bhushan Karn; Co-Founders, Express Bike Works

Founded in early 2013, Express Bike Works (EBW) is a brand of Entropy Innovations, an engineering innovations company that has changed the two-wheeler service industry. The team, Niraj, Jigar, and Bhushan, alumni of IIT & IIM designed and manufactured India’s first fully automated motorcycle wash machine that addresses multitude of problems faced by both individual owners as well as service stations.

The machine is capable of washing the dirtiest motorcycle within two to five minutes, which is the fastest in the world, and is capable of washing over 230 bikes in under 10 hours. A proud and successful Make in India venture, EBW’s motorcycle wash machine is compact in design and highly effective in cleaning. For every wash done in the EBW machine, the water gets recycled and around 90% of the water is reused, as compared to a conventional bike wash where 50-60 litres of water is wasted in each wash. Furthermore, there is zero water or oil spillage.

Backed by Mark Mobius, EBW has an association with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to set up their franchise outlets within the fuel retail network across the country. Currently, EBW is running successfully at two locations each in Mumbai, and one store each in Delhi, Pune, Nashik, Bengaluru, Dhanbad, Coimbatore, Guntur, Hyderabad, and Hubli. They will soon be launching new stores in Kochi, Mumbai-West, Bhubaneshwar, Nagpur, Surat, Vijaywada, and Mysore.

Sandy, Celebrity Makeup Artist

An incredibly talented hair and makeup artist who creates gorgeous looks every time he gets to work, Sandy is a professional celebrity makeup artist who works on actors and actresses, sportspersons, socialites and brides alike. His fabulous work is what brings us back to him again and again to create looks for our magazine covers year after year.

Highly talented and up-to-date with trends, Sandy is very patient and looks into every detail related to his work. After working in a BPO and as a choreographer at Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Dance, he began his career into the fashion industry in 2011, inspired by his close friend and fellow makeup artist Elton Fernandez. A powerhouse of energy, he has worked on celebrities like Lakshmi Manchu, P.V. Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Taapsee Pannu, Suhani Pittie, Ritu Varma, and many others. Although he specialises in bridal makeup, he also works on personal shoots and fashion shows, and has travelled across the globe on work. A one-man army, he’s good enough to style three to ten people at once, all with the utmost ease. What we really admire is the immense love and passion with which he goes about his work.

Dheeraj Melwani and Santosh Ahuja, Partners at S&D Hospitality

Spearheaded by Dheeraj Melwani and Santosh Ahuja, S&D Hospitality has a simple concept: to deliver high class, quality hospitality services with the customer at the heart of everything. Stone Waters - Kitchen & Lounge, an excellent world class eatery with entertainment as its main quotient, was a watershed moment for the company. It was started in response to the need of the hour – an establishment that has good food, drinks and live entertainment, 365 days a year!

Dheeraj says, “It’s a lesser known fact, but Stone Waters is the only bar/restaurant in India that has had live music performed every single day for the last 600 odd days.”

Launched in 2015 by two men who come from very diverse fields – Santosh from the garment industry and Dheeraj from the corporate world – Stone Waters’ central theme is music. It’s also the founders’ biggest passion.Currently the company is in expansion mode, with three new hospitality projects underway. “We are starting another brand in Jubilee Hills that we are very excited about. We hope to open doors post---Diwali. We are also opening two outlets in Hi Tech City under different brand names, and both are scheduled to open this year. So busy but exciting times are ahead of us,” they explain. 

Shivarama Chary, Founder, Achala Studios

Coming from a tradition of bronze image-making, Shivarama Chary has learnt the skills of the trade from his father, Yerraginnela Jagadishwarachary, whom he lost at a very young age. During his college days, he took up several commission works to take care of his family and studies. Having found a few art students who were experiencing a similar financial crisis, it was their vulnerable situation that motivated Shivaram to establish a group and share the commission works. “I have gone pillar to post finding the commission work, but when it was clicked people started approaching me. That’s how the idea of setting up Achala Studios as a common platform for the youngsters and myself came about, in 2006,” says an elated Shivaram.

After completing his post-graduation specialisation in sculpture, he has been working independently as a professional sculptor for almost 13 years. He owes his success to the art field and art connoisseurs, which have recognised his style. Kiran Vadlamani, an art lover and the owner of Kalakriti Art Gallery, has promoted him as an upcoming artist.

The main objective of the company is to create an alternate space for commissioned creative works, which are not purely kitsch/commercial, but the artists’ own styles which cater to the needs of patrons. Also, the idea is to create an opportunity for young and upcoming artists to nurture their skills, share studio space and execute their own artworks. Telling us about his work, he says, “I provide basic amenities apart from a large studio space, equipments and technical assistance from outsourcing, all of which are expensive for an individual. The expenses come down when we use these facilities collectively in the fully equipped studio.”