Sarthak Varshney, in conversation with Manvir Singh Anand, Knight Gourmet Services at The Balls Of Steel Show, about how he has started his entrepreneurial journey in the F&B industry. He talks about all the instances which have helped him reach where he is today.
Listen on to find out how Manvir’s company grew to become one of the best event hospitality solutions provider in the nation, serving nation renowned events like IIFA Awards, Premiere Badminton Leagues, Microsoft, BMW, Facebook, so and so forth, and add to your Dhandho Ni Soch.
WHAT BUSINESS YOU ARE RUNNING BECAUSE OF WHICH WE CAN SAY YOU HAVE GOT THE BALLS OF STEEL?
I am Manvir Singh. We run a company called Knight Gourmet Services. Essentially run a PAN INDIA presence hospitality issue company. Also, N2N event hospitality management for ILP, IIFA events, and so. Other than that, we have 3 offices in Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai.
Besides, we have a great satellite presence in 11 states and 30 cities. We are one of the largest companies in the event hospitality space.
MOVING AHEAD IN THE CONVERSATION MANVIR HOW HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN UPTIL NOW?
In school, I had many sections from A to Z. I had a combination of science and economics and did not do much well. Later, I shifted to Delhi University. I did my Honors in Economics. Later I was working as a consultant, consulting various companies. So, that’s how I started my career for approximately two to two and a half years.
I happen to shift during the moment when my company had two KPMG advisory. And this was the best opportunity for me to start something. The best thing to start early is you lose nothing much, which is what came to my might. And so, I started a mid-night delivery service called the night bites along with two co-founders.
One of them was into digital marketing, and one was architecture. And I was the only one who left the job. One main reason was that I saw good leverage. Especially something I could align myself with. We were the first in the city to start with something as such. After that, many other brands started up with the same idea.
But, as we were the first, we got a magnificent attraction. 8 years ago, we would get about 200-250 orders per night, which is something really good at that point. This helped me get a good strategic investor who wanted to buy us out. In contrast, we were also having friction between young founders because I was only into the business.
Finally, we thought of selling it out, getting out with a good amount. I was into the solo, after which I decided to invest in a good catering business. As I knew, night bites gave me the idea of what I liked doing. So, I might as well do the same. That is when I enrolled in a culinary program in London. Trained at a hotel in New Delhi. And sooner did I know that Knight Gourmet was set up around 6 years ago. The idea was elementary. I mainly knew the market and how there was the right mindset about sales and knowledge.
AS MENTIONED ABOUT THE FRICTION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CO-FOUNDER FOR NIGHT BITES, WHAT WAS YOUR TIME LIKE AND HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT?
I mostly try avoiding this topic. But, I’ll talk about it. The majority of the times in partnership, there are bound to be differences. For a start, a lot of associations are based on how you know the people. The majority of them are based on friendship. And this is the most stupid premise of starting a business. It is also a way to understand yourself.
Here, you give someone a percentage of decision-making capacity to make decisions, mainly asking for the same level of commitment.
While I was the only one who left the job. Hoping for the company to grow to assume I would get the same response. However, they may have their own valid reasons, which are acceptable.
Thus, I don’t hold any hard feelings. But, yet that was a very emotionally stressful time. Because it’s an entire process where you can hold on to a were well to work business. Also, I witnessed personally that as the money kept coming in, people go bonkers. And we never think of it in starts. Though it is not a wrong theory, we did not think of it in this way to come. We just went off it to see how it goes. I’ll sum to say it was not dramatic. It wasn’t pleasant.
ONCE YOU WERE SET OFF WITH THE PARTNERSHIP AND YOU HAD NO IDEA WITH WHAT KIND OF AUDIENCE YOU WERE TARGETING AT, IT TOOK SIX MONTHS TO EVALUATE, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THOSE SIX MONTHS?
I was not putting in massive action, but some action. The irony of being in business is that I was getting into was a weekend business, and it took me time to understand. It was not that I was evaluating.
But, I was also taking in work that was coming to my ways, such as school or college events. And this time was the only time for business development and sales, between Mondays to Thursdays. There is nothing else we could have done. Through 2-3 kinds of events, we start understanding the type of work.
Basically, it was a process of learning. And this helps me use the opportunity as it was replicable. So, to answer your questions, I was doing everything that was doing everything coming my way. And to make a point, I was not getting a lot of work. I was doing hardcore sales calls. Basically, you always want to grow your business, and you need to be a hustler. It would help if you made cold calls. At least to make sure you have some response.
Even now, during lockdown with no business, we dedicated ourselves. We did business through tangible deliverable legacy, especially with interesting property, which can be very good for the business’s growth. Therefore the whole idea is to keep evolving and keep finding business.
PLEASE TELL US THROUGH THIS CONVERSATION MANVIR, WHAT WAS THE STRUGGLE BEHIND THE POSITIONING EVENT HOSPITALITY SOLUTION PROVIDER?
There is an essential aspect of building a key differentiator to your business. Mainly to the ones you work with or your stakeholders. Because they do make these questions as one did to me. He said, “Arey Khana hi hai thodi na khane mai sona dal dooge.”
So, it’s important to know the position is never built with communication. It is always with an integrated communication approach. Basically, it refers is an idea about you personally, your social media, vendors, and your other clients.
The point is there is no term hospitality. We have created that term. This is also because we give a more extensive positioning to the stakeholders. It needs to be completed by fulfilling their needs, which can be done through a strong background. Positioning through your channels and positioning through your conduct is a must. This itself can distinguish and can be the differentiator.
Always create a market and see how it is evolving and keep changing it. But also always position yourself larger than life. Never position yourself like another service provider but better and different. Then the sky is the limit.
MOVING AHEAD IN THE CONVERSATION MANVIR WHICH IS THE MAJOR FAILURE THAT YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR COMPANY AND A LESSON IT HAS TAUGHT YOU?
One thing learned is, is the power of humility. And it is one of the most important aspects of critical importance. There is either absolute low or absolute high. There is no in-between.
But, if you stay grounded, you understand that you would have the idea of basic facts. There is knowledge about your trade, how to deliver it, and how to take out the payment. The fourth point is the feedback. And these three should be of great help.
There have been multiple failures, which every business goes through. And every business has to go about it. Here, you can do it better, satisfy the client. Worse is if you let go. Some factors are within your control. Some aren’t. So you can’t allow the client to know that you cannot have things under control.
REACHING THE END OF THIS CONVERSATION MANVIR, TALKING ABOUT YOUR BOOK, WHY DON’T YOU PUT A LIGHT ON IT THAT IS COMING OUT?
Most COVID days, by being unique inside and, as you mentioned about the book.
The book has resulted from my conversation with a very senior learning and development professional of a large scale Development Corporation. There is a discussion about the fact of how the entire industry would be wiped out. And how many jobs being lost in the hospitality sector.
Especially, the hotels, of course, from catering companies or straws. In fact, Many television brands have been closed for like two months. We don’t want to open it right now because the cost of operating debt is higher than the number of orders. One reason is that people have this unique fear about food, which I don’t understand because food is absolutely safe.
There’s been no scientific evidence that the food can cause our transmission. Thus, we were evaluating. I was telling them that what you do about this vast expanse.
They have the second-highest employer in this country, which is always a crowded sector. What is it that they can do to start this, the Southern Next Innings? The book is for those people who just lost their job. It is called “Getting your way to financial independence.” It is a step by step guide for helping someone build his catering business.
His or her catering business without any prior background in the hospitality industry. So, you know, in fact, one of the major myths we try to bring about in that book is that you know you don’t have to be a chef or a borderline professional. Especially to actually run, run and operate a catering business.
What an inspiring conversation was this with Manvir Singh Anand. We salute him for his persistence, perseverance, and his aim of revolutionizing hospitality. A conversation like that of Manvir makes BOSS what it is, a platform that celebrates every entrepreneurial story. Manvir has become an inspiration for many, and people like him distinguish entrepreneurship. For more unheard stories, tune in to BOSS on your favourite audio platform. Stay Tuned!