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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF

Monday, 27 July, 2015, 10 : 30 AM [IST]

Aditi Balbir, Co-Founder, V Resorts

Aditi Balbir is the founder of one of the first ‘start ups’ in the hospitality sector in India–V Resorts. One who loves trying out truly unique travel spots away from the glaze and glamour of popular destinations on her weekends,Aditi found a glaring gap in customized hospitality services in offbeat destinations and ventured to bridge it with branded ‘limited service resorts’.P Krishna Kumar meets with this astute entrepreneur to understand her passion for both business and life
Aditi BalbirAt first appearance, Aditi might give the impression of a lady who requires help and support of somebody at every step. When I saw her walking painstakingly, holding a walking stick, towards the cabin , seated for the scheduled interaction, I had my doubts as far as her choice of industry. But as our conversation progressed, I found an avid explorer of destinations, adventure enthusiast, a hardcore foodie, a writer, and a diehard entrepreneur with mission and vision. Her entrepreneurial venture, V Resorts, hasn’t been smooth.

The concept and business model had gone through several highs and lows and restructuring, ever since it was incubated by VC fund, Bedrock Ventures, four years ago. She was just a nominee of the VC company in the venture initially. A year later, she invested her own money to become the co-founder. V Resorts was able to bring on board 12 hotels under its branding in the first one year. But, the heavy lease rental of some of the bigger properties forced them drop six of them. “We kept properties which were smaller in size and let go the bigger ones, especially in Rajasthan.” They pivoted the model from time to time to bring in consistency and standardization in the brand. “Frankly speaking, the last one year was the only stable period in our journey. I myself have learnt all the SOPs through trial and error method over a period of time,” she submits.

V Resorts have been able to raise close to US dollar 2 million from Seedfund last year to take their growth forward. The company has identified almost 120 off-beat destinations across all regions of India for resorts. “We have been focusing on getting our branding elements right in the last one year. From April 2015 we have started concentrating on expansion. We have added five properties in the month of May. The idea is to add three to four properties every month to our portfolio over the next 18 months,” she said

Early Years:
An out and out Delhiite, Aditi had her school and college education in Delhi. After her graduation, she pursued dual degree in Law from Symbiosis and MBA from Infinity Business School. After completing these programmes, she joined private equity firm, Barings as an Analyst. She also served renowned market consultancy firm McKenzie for two years. Taking a sabbatical from work, she again pursued her studies by enrolling for a MBA programme from ISB Hyderabad which was split between Indian campus and Duke University campus in the US. After her return, she joined the private Equity firm, Bedrock. It was during her stint with Bedrock, the incubation of V Resorts happened.

A resident of Vasant Vihar in South Delhi for the last 35 years, Aditi’s father, Anshu Balbir, is an entrepreneur who has pioneered BPO business in India and a financial expert. Her mother, Shyama Balbir, is a well-known horticulturist, who is on the advisory board of many renowned gardens in the country including the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Married for the last 11 years, Aditi’s husband, Sumit Singh, is an investment banker by profession who has recently quit EY to join a Technology start up.

“I have been travelling since I was six. My dad has business abroad, and therefore all six weeks of our summer vacations were spent abroad,” she said when asked about her interest for travel and hospitality industry. That interest continued while she grew up, and continued picking up offbeat destinations from Outlook traveler and started exploring them on weekends with friends. “I have seen most of the places in India except Leh Ladakh and Lakshadweep,” she informs. These exposures have given her ample idea about basic expectations of a traveller to these remote locations and designing services accordingly.

Day Break:
Mother of a seven year old son, Adyant Raj, Aditi’s day starts early in the morning. Once she sees her son to school, she starts her regular exercises and massage. She had a spinal operation when she was young, and therefore morning exercises and massage have become part of her life. Once in her office, situated at Noida, she meets with her team to take stock of the work. “We do the entire weeks planning on Monday.” Most of the business related meetings are done in the second half, she informs. Evenings are generally spent with family and friends. Although Saturdays are working for the office, she generally takes a “spa” break. “My family is quite chilled out and they are not very demanding,” she quipped when asked how she balances her business and family life.

Interests:
A person who loves “lot of fun” in life, Aditi has an advice for those who hardly find time for leisure because of busy life. “You will be always busy in this world. There is no other way but to snatch time to do whatever you like.” Aditi, who loves travelling and adventure sports like paragliding, snorkeling, diving, etc., also carries an ambition to author books. “I want to write short stories,” she said, saying she would consider a few months of sabbatical from her office engagements to fulfill that dream.
 
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