I’m Minnat Lalpuria, Founder of 7 Vachan, and this is how I Lead from Within
Minnat Lalpuria, an Indian School of Business alumnus, is the Founder of 7 Vachan – a Wedding Consultancy and Aggregator. Through 7 Vachan, she is helping couples who opt for DIY weddings take all the pain and stress out of the wedding planning process, and craving a niche for herself in the big fat Indian wedding market, currently worth about $25 Billion and growing rapidly.
On Starting Up
Honestly, jobs can be very exciting. Exciting in the sense that they give us good money and stability, but the key thing for me was I knew the next 5 years of my life were going to be the most crucial in terms of career growth as well as personal growth. With jobs, the question for me was, “Is this something that I want to do for the next 5 years? Do I want to give this crucial time of my life to somebody to whom I am replaceable.” I realized I didn’t want to go that way. That is when I started thinking of entrepreneurial ideas and that is how ‘7 Vachan’ was born.
On the Indian Wedding Market
It is huge. There are more than 10 million weddings happening in India every year and the growth rate is in the proximity of 25% to 30%, which is one of the biggest industry growth rates that you can expect.
Why is it an opportunity? Well, because it is absolutely fragmented. There is no real good way of going about this wedding market. So that in itself is an opportunity for various businesses. Secondly, look at anything around you. You can actually bring it under the wedding umbrella being clothes, jewellery, hotels, anything around you can be a part of weddings.
The consolidation of various industries in itself is a huge opportunity. So that is how we are basically going about introducing 7 Vachan into the market. We may not be able to reach all 10 million people in one year itself but even if we can help 10,000 couples make their wedding go smoothly, that would be an achievement in itself.
On Building and Testing Out An Idea
One key statistic for us was that more than 90% of India does weddings on their own. You have the entire family coming together to help with the wedding. You involve your uncles and aunts, distribute work and get everyone to help pull it off. Now with everybody being so different, getting everyone on the same page can be a challenge.
There are also so many options available in the market. How do you know which is the right option for you? You want the best. You are spending a lot on these occasions of your life so you want to make sure that you get the best. How does 90% of India go about doing this was the key question.
There is no professional service provider to help me find a good photographer for the occasion. If I go to a wedding planner, I have to get everything from A to Z, but that is not what I want. So, if I need professional guidance for something specific, I need a consultant who knows the market and can guide me. That is how 7 Vachan was born as an idea. What we did then is we interviewed about 1000 couples who were either recently married or were going through their wedding preparations and we asked them, “What are your different pain points? How are you going about doing it yourself?” That’s how the model of 7 Vachan got formed and we launched it 2 years ago.
Lessons from My Entrepreneurial Journey
Something you hear frequently in entrepreneurial circles is ‘Believe in your ideas’. Of course if you don’t believe in your ideas I don’t think you would be able to start something. However, what is more important is to get people on board who believe in the idea. You need to get the right employees, the right talent on board, the one who can not only envision what you are thinking but can help make the idea even bigger. You need to have extremely passionate people on board, especially when you are creating a new market and want to be the best in it.
Second, a key driver that we have always worked on is our company’s culture. I never truly understood what culture is till I started out on my own. Soon, I realized that the way we behave internally influences how our customers perceive our brand.
We are in an industry where trust is key because people are asking us to help them with the most important occasion of their lives. Trust and honesty have to be an integral part of how we are serving you. That has to flow down to all levels, from the technical guy to even how the peon at the office greets your customers. All of that comes from how you set the company culture.
Thirdly, your customer service has to be a big differentiator. You have to be accessible. You have to be someone whom the bride and groom can divulge all their concerns to and be able to talk openly with. We need to make sure that we are talking to them as friends, that we are treating them as our best friends, as a confidante so that they can come and talk to us about any damn thing related to the wedding, even if it is cribbing about their mother-in-law! We pay a lot of attention to customer service and that itself has been a huge exercise for me personally.
I guess it is a mix of a lot of hard work as well as support from family and friends. Without their support it would have been very difficult to make this work because while ideas are good, execution is the tough part, and to actually see things come to life is what keeps you going.