One look at Shruti Dhanda, and you would get impressed by her confidence and vigor to achieve success. She is passionate about dreaming and those dreams come true. She never misses any opportunity in front of her and tries to utilize it to the fullest. The same is true for her career as she pushes herself and her startups to cross the brink of success. Currently Shop to Surprise is taking most of her time and space.
Even before completing her MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, she landed in the startup arena with her first venture called Shrubs. Later she cofounded her second company called EntrAct consulting. However, her true ingenuity came to the forefront after the launch of Shop to Surprise. This startup focuses on creating a variety of concepts for gifting to introduce fun, frolic and fancy deals into the gifting world. Last year her company completed over 10000 gifts.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Shop To Surprise is aiming to come up with a solution for the last minute Gift buyer. “The Aim Is to Create a Gifting Platform which will enable us to become every individuals pocket gifting buddy using an online, offline and a social medium. “ – ”Redefining Surprises“
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
I started my first business in 3rd Year College selling flowers. I was the Phoolwali for 8 years after that. Over the years it became more and more apparent that the customer who buys bouquets and flowers as gifts was not buying them for the love of flowers ,they were buying them because those were the most convenient and understood purchase. Over these 8 years due to hectic schedules the no. of customers increased and still no solution . Which is when I thought of switching my line. Sold my flower business and decided to come up with a product and service which caters to this last minute buyer – gives him a durable solution which does not die in two days and also makes the buying process a lot more convenient for him.
What is your life mantra?
To be successful you need to be a fantastic Solution finder.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
Finding like-minded people to run this company with me. I started my first business on my own, started my next also on my own. I couldn’t wait around for people to believe in my idea to get started – as time was opportunity. However this project was a lot bigger than me so I started hunting around. Came across a lot of Wanna-prenuers who came joined me for a bit – couldn’t face the pressures of the Garage, the Non AC rooms etc, or simply just waited around for me to complete the work . Definitely didn’t have the spirit required to get started, the hard work to get this shop going. The side effect of that became a lot of lost time, delays and opportunities.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Getting the right team in place became a real challenge for me. However, with a lot of hit and trial, trying to find quality people through different sources, different walks of life and finding more and more innovative solutions to get the team together helped me overcome this challenge finally .Today the core team comprises of me and 2 fantastic people .
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
The money I made from selling my first venture funds a majority of the Business. Then Came in STEP Business Incubator @ JSSATE, Noida. It’s a govt backed incubation center which helps and promotes start-ups. They gave me the funds for technological growth. And now with the help of STEP we will be stepping out in the market to raise our next round.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We are yet to reach the problem of Brain Drain with Shop to Surprise. However in Shrubs all those people who mattered I made it a point they stayed and fortunately for me I had less than 5% attrition in the 8 year period. My team only grew. Once the people were trained I gave them a lot of freedom to exercise their creativity, made them comfortable, looked after them, Incentivized them, showed them immense opportunity and growth- and delivered . And of-course, our working hours used to be crazy, our day used to start at 5 am, so whenever we could spare the time I would make sure there was fun madness in the office etc.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
For now we have been active on Facebook as a social medium to stay in touch with the networks and groups of new start-ups to keep pace with the latest news. Apart from this we also rely on other third party sites to showcase and sell our products.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
My ability to manage time and systematically plan ahead. The one thing that ISB taught me very well was Time management. Its important to respect time because every minute that is not efficiently used would result in a task not being completed (personal or professional).
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
The ability to accept change. Being an entrepreneur – time and again I had to face situations where things wouldn’t go as planned and I would initially resist change. However, time has been a great teacher – it has taught me to adapt pretty well however I feel there is a little more distance to cover in this aspect.
Answer in less than 50 words
One tip to success:
Be a Fantastic Solution Finder . If you can teach yourself to be innovative and open minded to the infinite possibilities present out there, Then no problem will be big enough to stop you from reaching your goal .
One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Relying on others to achieve YOUR goal . If you have got to do something you have got to do it yourself and get all those around you to do it your way without compromises.
One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
If you don’t give up then things have a way of working themselves out.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
I have a lot of respect for gestation periods or a 1000-day journey as I call it – of the business. This is the period when you do your experimentations, make your mistakes, explore your business plan and discover the correct path and opportunity. We have lived our 1000-day journey very well and today we are ready to launch to the next level. We have established a strong backbone, created a strong base, and proven our model so now for the next 3 years we are going to look at expansion, growth and establishing our brand.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
Take up the funding 8 years back. Right after ISB I got the chance that all the 20 year olds are getting today – I got to raise a million dollars for my flower business. I was barely 23 and was getting the opportunity to be backed and guided by two great investors. I didn’t take the money.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
- Dehradun My Hometown
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“The Gift of Fantasy means more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge” – Albert Einstein.