Tell us about yourself and your background
When I used to live in Belgium I used to explore and have a lot of adventures in my free time, which led to the discovery of my love for traveling. I knew I eventually wanted to do something that would allow me to have this flexibility of being able to take time to see the world. Having gotten bored of a corporate lifestyle, I wanted to use my special talents and skills doing something exciting. Hence, this travel firm with a difference.
Tell us about the company you have set up
No Thepla Holidays was set up in 2014 and we did our first trip to Europe in June that year. We offer flashpacking trips for people who want to travel to off beat places, have fun and meet like-minded people all at the same time. We plan our trips around music festivals, major or quirky events, adventure or specific activities and for now offer accompanied trips to Europe and South East Asia. Our target market is the urban youth up to the age of 50, who are looking for new experiences and have share an innate desire to explore.
Why did you set up the company?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a passion for travel, It’s a lifestyle I love and want to promote. We saw a gap in the industry and grasped it with both hands – no one was catering to the flash packing needs of the modern urban traveler. This, combined with my need for personal freedom in terms of being able to dictate my own working hours, the headroom and elbowroom in making decisions and having a sense of ownership led to the creation of No Thepla Holidays.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Our biggest challenge so far has been to reach our target audience. We cater to a niche crowd that wants off-beat experiential travel and is tired of the run of the mill packages that other operators provide. Given that neither my partners nor I are from a marketing background, reaching out to new and prospective customers has been our biggest challenge.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
This has actually been something before No Thepla Holidays began. Upon returning from Belgium I worked at an animal rescue organization. We came upon a project which involved re-homing over 160 traumatised dogs within a year and half. Leading this project was a great challenge and making sure so many animals never had to live in cages again was a herculean task. Raising funds, finding and managing of volunteers, fighting and then pleading with city officials was a twenty-four seven job. Eventually, being able to manage re-homing all the dogs has been my greatest and certainly the most fulfilling achievement.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
It’s a bit of a tightrope. Having a startup means I’m never not working. I’m reading emails at 12am, much to everyone’s annoyance. But I’m lucky to have an excellent support system in the form of my wonderful family and friends.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Don’t be defined by what other people say, think or believe about you. Just go out and follow your passion. Whatever that may be, and everything will work itself out.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
Honestly, I am not a part of any major networking forums, but as I was a part of AIESEC – a youth organization when I was in college. I am still in contact with the AIESEC alumni network including quite a few entrepreneurs however.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
A much larger capital base which would, in turn, help us reach out to our target audience would be of great use.
What does the future hold for you?
Born and raised in Mahabaleshwar (before it turned into the tourist hot-spot it is today). I grew up in the midst of nature where I found my love for animals. I studied in Panchgani, eventually moving to Mumbai for my further studies. During college I joined AIESEC, and that gave me an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. I worked for KPMG before landing a job at DHL in Belgium. I moved back to India in 2010 and managed ResQ Charitable Trust, an animal welfare NGO based in Pune. I then went on to start No Thepla with my sister and a friend, and there’s been no looking back since then!
Contacting No Thepla Holidays –
This interview was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Committee Lead Ashish Bhardwaj.