A few minutes into the conversation with Dinika Bhatia, I thought that she sounds a lot like Jacqueline Carlyle–the ideal boss from The Bold Type. Driven, powerful, feisty but not ruthless. Like Jacqueline, Dinika, Founder & CEO of Nutty Gritties, DRB Foods Pvt. Ltd., believes in empowering her team. She encourages them to go after goals they might perceive as unachieveable. “I strongly believe that if you build your people, the company is built,” she says.
A fifth-generation entrepreneur, Dinika started her own brand in 2009. Her brand is an extension to the 130-year-old family business. Even though she comes from a family of entrepreneurs, it hasn’t been an easy journey. As the first woman to venture into this industry, Dinika faced her share of challenges and skepticism. But she was persistent. From setting up a factory in Delhi to handling business meetings with the biggest retail players alone, she did it all.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 impact hit all businesses, the urgent need to pivot the company posed a lot of challenges. “Initially, there was chaos. Our factory was shut, our vendors were shut, trucks were stuck at the border. It was a lot for me to handle. I switched off completely. I am being honest and vulnerable here. I actually went off the grid for some time,” says Dinika. But as the saying goes, ‘there is power in vulnerability’. The odds were against her but she rose to the challenge. She opened up to her team and presented to them an amazing opportunity to learn new skills. She made cross-functional teams where people from quality worked in sales, and employees from packaging learned e-commerce. Dinika says the pandemic taught her how to think creatively, act fast, and adapt to significant change.
2020 gave her a reality check about the burgeoning power of e-commerce and she worked on strengthening her systems. As a result, in May 2020, the brand’s sales increased five times. In the financial year 2020, the company earned 45 percent of its revenue from e-commerce channels like Amazon and its own website.
Most young entrepreneurs understand growth, but resilience is the word that they need to add to their business vocabulary. That’s exactly what Dinika did and that’s what makes her the perfect fit for our Women Who Win series. In a candid conversation, Dinika opens up about everything from making coffee during her first job at a cafe to running a successful dry fruits business in India. Excerpts:
I start my day pretty early. I spend 20-25 minutes meditating, doing Pranayam and I love my chai in the morning. The first one hour of the day goes into planning and delegating work to the entire team. I believe that good planning leads to good work. I plan my week in advance and my weeks are 80 percent scheduled. I work out 4-5 times a week. I am working out at home at the moment. In the evening, I put my emails on mute and I enjoy watching Netflix. I try to be as mindful as possible about whatever I am doing. I also read something every day and I believe in reading, watching, and getting inspired by things around me.
Last year when COVID struck, retail stores shut down. The only way to survive was through e-commerce. My team and I worked hard on it and our e-com sales increased 5x without spending a single rupee on marketing. It was because we had that strength of operations, strength to get the product available. So it was a turning point in realising the strength of the entire e-com system and the fact that you can reach any corner of India, sitting in your home. Finally, the concept that we started back in 2009 is taking off and people are accepting the product, they are loving the product.
Persistence, confidence, belief in myself and the product and my focus on a larger mission. It has really helped me drive this business. Sometimes you lose motivation and get demotivated about small things. But when you look at your larger mission, it kind of brings you back on track and motivates you to work harder.
We are a bootstrapped company but we are growing consistently and we are making money. So I would consider being profitable and a fast-growing company as my biggest accomplishment.
When I came back from my break, I came back with more passion and we started seeing a huge opportunity in e-com. I worked on changing the way my team looked at things. When there’s a challenge or crisis or a disaster, your way of looking at things can change the way you feel. I asked them to use this time to learn a lot. We made cross-functional teams and people from quality worked in sales, people from operations in sales. My team was open to try, learn and use this opportunity to build their skills. My focus has always been on learning and building people. And once you are focussed on building your people, the company is anyway built.
I believe that women have a great balance of IQ and EQ. And I believe in the larger mission of empowering women and building them to achieve their dreams and goals. I believe in giving that one opportunity and platform to them. Then there’s no stopping them. I have seen many such examples in my company. For instance, a lady who joined us as a labour in the production became a quality control executive only after three years. We have two more girls who work in the e-com department now and earlier they were just doing packaging. Today, they know how to handle Amazon and Flipkart orders and they handle it completely for us. These are the things that really keep me going.
The first thing that I always say is just to believe in yourself, that you are perfect and complete. Nobody outside can point fingers at you and tell you that you can’t do this. Your relationship with yourself determines your relationship with the world. My advice is to just be clear and work on yourself, and work on bringing clarity to your mind. Once you have that, you start believing in what you’re doing. That has a ripple effect on your environment. You are able to achieve whatever you step out to achieve and you even enjoy the journey.
I love being surrounded by nature. I would just go to a park, for a walk or run but now I can’t do that. So I keep doing things on my balcony. I just changed the plant arrangement there. I spend a lot of time there.
Featured Image Courtesy: Dinika Bhatia