Hello everyone, I’m Aditi Balbir, founder of the largest offbeat travel company in India. Over a span of 6 years, I’ve been able to scale to 150 plus resorts across 18 states in India. Like all women, I play many roles - of a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in law but I’m not here to talk about that. This is about my story, my journey and I hope by the end of it, some of u are inspired to create your own company and follow your dreams.
So here is how it began.
I was quite sure that entrepreneurship was not for me. A tad ironical, because i come from a family of entrepreneurs. I began work with private equity company, not really appreciating the value of it till much later. I worked with Mckinsey in consulting and I felt I had found my tribe. But things don’t really pan out the way you plan.
In 2014, I found myself with an opportunity to lead a company. The founders had left it and we would have had to shut it down if I had not stepped in. Being a CEO was scary? How does anyone become a CEO overnight? I was soon to find out.
In 2014, Airbnb was not yet in India. and we had a unique opportunity to create one. As we went about figuring the model we quickly realised that properties in India are not standardised. Moreover people like service.
Think of it, if your husband or dad told you that you are going for a holiday where u needed to cook and clean yourself how would you feel? So we decided that we need to run our own places, we needed to pamper our guests and we needed to create experiences that they can enjoy. And so just like Airbnb created their own category of home stays, we created a category that now every, the likes go Google refers to as experiential travel segment
And so I created V Resorts - a technology enabled hotel management company in the leisure travel space. We managed and operate resorts, hotels, camps, houseboats, homestays, farm-houses and any other form of stays in leisure locations for customers to holiday. Completely asset light, we took facilities on revenue share contracts.
We provided all the hospitality services to ensure standardisation of experiences for the customer – from trained manpower, linen, toiletries, design and beatification, vendor management, training facility, technology stack & and sales network. And we raised $ 7 million so far from VCs and have over 100 resorts across 17 states in India.
But then Covid happened, and things took a turn for the worse. We had already sold off the business, but the idea was to grow it together with the seller, one that did not pan out. So after a sabbatical of 6 months, I started Veekends.com – where we give options to customers to spend their weekends with us - in a responsible and ecologically sound manner.
We offer stays and immersive experiences for conscious guests who value properties for their contribution to Environment and Local Communities. The Guests are offered stays, Consciously sourced meals, and experiences which allow them to interact with locals.
So why is this the future of Tourism? Because we are creating a standard that is globally acceptable for running and managing Sustainable and Eco Friendly properties across the world. And thereby changing the face of Tourism from a negative impact creator to a positive ecological footprint one. Post Covid, I believe that every business has to move towards sustainability if one has to survive and create a better planet for our children. And my endeavour is to target Tourism and garner the already positive impact such as employment to be able to create a much wider impact - both for the environment and the community.
And so, in my next avatar as a founder, I am passionate about helping more women come into the ecosystem as entrepreneurs and scale their business. Infact, tho sis our topic of discussion on sunday July, 19th with Epinome consulting. Thank you once again for listening and i would also like to thank epitome for this collaboration.