(Part I): We all love experimenting something new in life and are equally thrilled to break the system proclaimed as “routine life”. But to go beyond the daily boring lives required infusing fresh ideas. It can simply be experimenting a new outfit, relishing a new dish or at extreme trying out a new occupation. Dare took the initiative to speak to few people who broke the barrier of devoting life in 9 to 5 time frame and embarked on their fresh business ideas and ventured into something new and alien. We salute them for their self belief, dedication and their sheer strength to sail against the tide to show the world the opportunities and challenges that’s worth taking.
We cover their inspiring entrepreneurial endeavors in a series of interviews.
In the first slot, we have covered the story of Anand Sankar; a 26 year old youth who was employed in New Delhi as a photo-journalist. He felt the urge to try something new in his life and answered his entrepreneurial call. Along with three other friends, Anand Sankar ventured Basic Halli, a weekend getaway and outdoor activity center in the outskirts of Bangalore. Basic Halli located at Lakhanigam Farms, next to a village called Kadavekere Doddi in Kanakapura Taluk. The farm is nestled at the foot of the imposing Bilkal Rangaswamy Hill and abuts the northernmost extension of the Cauvery forest range. In a tête-à-tête to Sharmila Das, he reveals:
- What's the business concept of a weekend getaway and outdoor activity center? How popular the concept is in India? Why people will come to it?
- The concept of a weekend getaway and outdoor getaway center is to be able to make the outdoors accessible to everyone. You see, it is not easy for someone who lives in urban areas to understand the outdoors. First, we need some infrastructure for their stay, and then more important is hand holding when take them to explore the outdoors. The business has really grown in the last decade and people will come to it as they want to learn about the environment around them.
- In India, what's the business prospect of weekend farm and outdoor activity center?
I believe we have a product – the outdoors -- that is going be more precious as time goes. The prospects are great for anyone who invests in such a business for the long-term.
- Who are the target customer of a weekend getaway and outdoor activity center? How do you reach them? What is the market size of this kind of business?
Our target customers are middle to high net worth earners, who use their leisure time exploring nature. We reach them through social networking sites such as Facebook, and through reach-out programs with interest groups such as wildlife clubs, bird watching groups and adventure associations. This industry is very unorganized and presently nascent, so there are no industry figure that I have access to.
- What's the customer response you have received so far?
Our customer response has been tremendous. They especially love the no-frills and budget tariffs of our business model.
- Were you not afraid of leaving your secure job and trying for something new and uncertain? How was your family reacted then? Who is the person helped you to overcome that phase?
Yes, I was afraid to leave a secure job. But I have always believed in the saying “Who Dares Wins”. My family was not very comfortable with my ideas. It was my friends who always said, “Do what you want to do, we are there to help.”
- What was the time gap between the date you left your job till you ventured Basic Halli? What were your activities then?
There was a gap of roughly about six months from when I quit my full-time job as a photojournalist to starting Basic Halli. I spent the time traveling around the country on my motorcycle. I used the time as a creative break to explore the different entrepreneurial ideas I had and how to go about starting them.
- What are the challenges that a new entrant will face in setting up this kind of business? How to overcome them?
The main challenges are investment and labor. The industry still does not attract venture capital because the returns are spread over a very long term. Labor is an issue that anyone setting up a business in India faces today and chooses not to talk about. There is a severe shortage of willing unskilled labor. These challenges can be overcome only with perseverance.
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