Never Give Up, Ever Break Away: Tete-a-tete with a restaurateur
November 2013 saw the launch of a promising venture Bombay Hospitality Pvt Ltd. Rising from a genetic love for food, Bombay Hospitality is a brand built by family and is spearheaded by the brother-sister duo of Aditya Sawant and Amolika Sawant. Amolika and her brother aim to develop, expand, and deliver high quality restaurant brands that specializes in targeting all segments of the market within India and Internationally.
Bringing to the foyer a wealth of finance, marketing, and legal expertise, Amolika Sawant has an MBA in Finance from Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research with Masters in Global Business Analysis from Manchester University, UK.
Breaking the fossilized and ‘boring’ myth associated with vegetarian food, Bombay Hospitality via its handcrafted all-day dining vegetarian eatery VEDGE, Andheri aims to give pure vegetarian world cuisine in a signature style, to reinvent the current perception of vegetarian dining in Mumbai. “My vision has always been to WOW every customer with a delicious eating experience: great ambience, great service, and food well presented with great taste, all at a great value,” says Amolika.
Amolika shares with HerMoneyTalks her highs and retrospects the lows she faced as a women entrepreneur.
HerMoneyTalks: How difficult is it for a woman to start a company?
Amolika Sawant: In recent times, a large number of women worldwide own and lead businesses but that doesn’t mean that women have it any easier while trying to start-up their own business. The most common challenge faced by a woman is that she’s never taken seriously; her abilities and capabilities in running the business are doubted.
People surrounding her doubt her ability to handle all her responsibilities and strike a balance between her work and life. A woman is also considered to be too emotional and therefore going to let her emotions influence her judgment and thus make mistakes.
HMT: What according to you are the obstacles women face to access funding?
AS: Firstly, there are limited sources of funding available. Women entrepreneurs aren’t taken seriously and hence it is difficult to convince the banks or investors to fund your project. Usually, raising capital seems difficult for women-owned projects since her ability and capability to run the business is doubted.
Secondly, there is an issue with the profile of a successful entrepreneur. Worldwide, the profile of a successful entrepreneur has always been “MALE” and thus the hesitation in backing women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs are usually seen as not a reliable investment.
HMT: How did you meet the seed funding requirements for your company?
AS: After pitching “Vedge” to several investors for about a year, I was happy to receive seed funding from an Education Research Company. They believed in me and in my vision behind Vedge. The seed funding received for Vedge was Rs. 1 crore.
Initially, it was difficult to convince the investors to fund my start-up. Raising capital seemed difficult since I wasn’t being taken seriously. I felt as if the investors tend to fund only those startups, which are run by their own “tribe”. But this difficulty can be overcome by taking the investors into confidence with a great team on board and a good business plan.
HMT: When did you start taking financial decisions in the company? What was the confidence level in the beginning? The current confidence level?
AS: Being the Co-Founder & Director of the company and Finance being my core area, I had to start taking financial decisions since the inception of the company and at a pretty young age.
In the beginning, I was just starting out, coming out of the cocoon, and thus everything around was fairly new. Therefore, initially the confidence level was pretty much shaky since a lot was riding on the success of the business. I use to end up over-thinking and doubting my own decisions since the pressure of being successful was always there somewhere at the back of my mind. But gradually, as the hard work started paying off, the confidence level began to rise, the pressure of being successful vanished, and I become confident and fearless, someone who immensely believed in herself.
Today, I am a confident and fearless woman entrepreneur, aspiring to fulfill my entrepreneurial dreams.
HMT: Who were the mentors that encouraged you and how it helped?
AS: My mother, Mrs. Priyanka Sawant, has been my mentor throughout my entrepreneurial journey. Herself an entrepreneur, her support and advice have been extremely beneficial to my journey and me. She has helped me to understand the nuances of the business, shared her immense knowledge with me, guided me whenever the need arose, and stood fearlessly beside me through this roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship.
Being a woman entrepreneur, she very well knew and understood the obstacles and challenges that we face, and therefore her experience played a very important role in helping and guiding me during my tough times.
HerMoneyTalks wishes Amolika the very best in her entrepreneurial journey and as a woman who ensured that “her money was in her hands”.
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