Khalid Wani calls himself a commoner’s consultant despite his big-brand dealings in the corporate world.
The 35-year-old man from Hyderpora, Srinagar has been demonstrating a distinctive kosher determination in Delhi for years catering to companies/start-ups that can’t afford big corporates. Akin to some feted workhorses of his homeland, he believes in growing while helping others to grow.
Son of a businessman, Khalid is quite conscious about his choices making him a desirable consultant in town. Working with an IPL team is among his biggest projects.
During pandemic, his consultancy remotely trained marketing departments of different companies in different states of India. Khalid and Co. also get activated during the elections to cater to politicians’ on/offline marketing for their election strategies.
In a forthright tête-à-tête with Free Press Kashmir, Khalid talks about a quintessential Kashmiri man’s ‘branded’ journey in the competitive corporate world.
How did you as a Kashmiri end up as a consultant in Delhi?
Well, it started with a realization that I was a low-key professional. Consulting so many companies and brands was my strong suit right from my first stint at being an entrepreneur and starting my first company.
So, in year 2016, I decided to officially start a division that was solely dedicated to consulting companies that didn’t know they had room for improvement for growth.
What’s the operational focus of your consultancy?
It is catering to companies/start-ups that can’t afford big corporates like PWC, Ernst & Young, etc. We like to call ourselves the common man’s go-to consultancy for all their needs.
We’ve been active in the space of Real Estate, Technology, Healthcare, Sports Franchises, Automobiles, Food, Fashion, and only recently about 3 years ago we started consulting in the field of governance as well.
Some of our biggest projects have been working with an IPL team, and remotely setting up and training a company’s marketing department in the states during the pandemic.
We’ve consulted leaders from the government panel with their execution and formulation of policies. We get activated during the elections to cater to their on/offline marketing for their election strategies.
We’re also into talent management and currently have Gaurav Gill [Arjuna awardee Indian racing champ], Deepak Wadhwa [renowned TV and Film actor], and few business personalities. We’ve worked with brands like Adidas, Timex, Gas, The Ambani Wedding, United Nations, Nh7 (Music Festival), etc.
We also have a dedicated department that only helps the underprivileged who want to start a business, but doesn’t have a knowledge partner. We act as their incubator. That’s our way of giving back. I wish to activate a similar platform for my brothers and sisters in Kashmir.
But what makes your consulting company different from others?
We’re different because we’re in the ecosystem to bring a solution to the problem. We locate the problem that the client wouldn’t know either. We’re good at forecasting/predicting the upcoming hurdle/trend and bring in the much-needed strategy to avert the losses/hurdle.
Also, we give personal attention to each client. We don’t treat them like an account. I personally take responsibility for each one of them along with my team. We’re expanding and dynamically changing with time, to avail the actuarial services to whoever needs them.
What keeps you going in the hectic corporate world?
Everyone out there who’s working hard, getting up every time he/she falls, and never gives up is keeping me going. I believe in inspiring and getting inspired by the world. It’s a continuous process.
My truest inspiration has been my whole family. To begin with, it’s my mother who brought me into this world and took care of me by giving me the righteous nurturing to make me who I am today. The aggressive entrepreneur in me comes from my father, who restarted his life in Delhi when he had to leave Srinagar to give us a better life. He taught me to be independent, take risks, and celebrate failures as a learning curve. My brother Aaquib has also been an immense support and nothing but short of inspiration in many ways.
As an entrepreneur, what’re the challenges in front of you?
Being an entrepreneur is a great challenge in itself. But if I’ve to break it down, then time management is a challenge, because you’ve to wear many hats while you’re constantly making things move and taking no excuse to get your work delayed.
If you can’t take rejections then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Sometimes it’s the cash crunch because the payments don’t come on time. The company might be doing well in terms of having enough business, but the heavy operating costs can take you time to be able to call yourself a profit-making venture, which is something the new generation of entrepreneurs should realize and not be tough on themselves.
Remember, this isn’t a 9to9 job anymore. You’re “in the making” round the clock. You’ll face a lot of criticism from the ones who don’t get you. You’ve to keep your head high and focus on your aim. You’ll make it, no matter what.
How many start-ups have you incubated so far?
So far we’ve incubated about 7 start-ups. Some of them have reached to series “A” investment and are self-sustaining in terms of their business growth and the plan that we made for them.
And how do you mentor budding entrepreneurs?
Mentoring is all about giving them the boost that everything is possible but with the right amount of energy invested in the right direction. It’s very important to have a plan and schedule. You can’t be all over the place as an entrepreneur, you don’t want to burn out before you can even start walking. We’re very careful about who and what kind of companies/start-ups we mentor/incubate.
We first evaluate if their product/service has the potential to reach the aim that has been made in their mission statement. After we’ve done our due diligence, we then audit their existing setup and see where there’s room for improvement. We then make those necessary changes required to steer them away from the mistakes/leakages that were hindering their/companies’ growth.
Finally comes the quarterly plans which are dynamic. They change as the economic / geographical etc circumstances happen.
We keep a constant check and monthly meets, where we take health checks of the companies parameters defined by us and accordingly move forward depending on what our aim is at.
What’re some of the things every entrepreneur should know before coming up with a venture?
They need to first be realistic, and realise that not every idea is the first or last. You need to see the viability of what you’re bringing to the table for the consumers. Is it really going to be the next unicorn like Uber, Airbnb, etc? In your head, the idea might make sense but does it in the real world?
After you’ve done all these checks, you then need to see if you’ve sufficient seed funding for you to be able to reach the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), which can further help you achieve financial help from institutions like banks, seed funders and investors.
Also, always check with your local government authorities. They’ve programs for budding entrepreneurs that mentor them. They’ve subsidies and other formats that act as a catalyst for their growth.
Most importantly, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Please be patient and be extremely consistent. Your company won’t grow in a year but it will, slow and steady. Never compare yourself to others, keep your blinders on and aim at the goal.
Last but not the least, it’s ok to not be a jack of all trades. It’s ok to ask for help.
Where do you see yourself few years from now?
The future is unpredictable. We as a company only operate in the current times. But we sure would like to expand in different continents. We would like to bring in more expertise in terms of financial consulting. The world is shifting towards a new wave which is the crypto world. We’re in the process of setting up a consultancy in crypto portfolio management.
I’ve been making the noise with my clients that social media is the only marketing tool you need, as 2020 was a witness to the change. Social media is a booming industry and we’re preparing to dominate this space.
We’ve a knack for understanding and forecasting trends. Mark my words, we won’t be dealing in hard cash anymore. In the coming years, people will be buying virtual assets.
In all and all, our goal is to be consistent at delivering what we already are doing with a realistic approach and see a steady amount of expansion.