Ajay Shetty says “I can say that I am a happy entrepreneur who is enjoying the process while we build the brand”
- You were a banker and now an entrepreneur. What has really changed for you?
The hours! When you are an entrepreneur, you work towards your passion and enjoy what you do. There is no concept of day or night. Your sense of timing is very different and it is all worth it because it is your baby.
- How does it feel to be a successful businessman? Did you see this coming when you started?
I am not sure if I can call myself a successful businessman. Instead, I can say that I am a happy entrepreneur who is enjoying the process while we build the brand. Did I envision this? Yes, I did. It was a part of the vision that I clearly saw. Am I done doing it? No! I am only at the start of an endless journey and there is so much more to achieve.
- How does it feel to be famous?
I don’t think I am famous and I do not aspire to be famous. To be very honest, I recently told my mother that I aspire to be happy, work hard and follow my passion. Whatever else follows would be the by-product of my effort. I like to stay unrecognised and I enjoy my privacy.
- What are your company’s goals?
My company’s goals remain very simple – which is to evolve, reach and produce products that are globally accepted in the urban lifestyle space.
- Have you managed any company before Salud?
Yes, I have managed my previous company – Myra wines.
- When did you start Salud?
We started Salud beverages in July 2020.
- How do you deal with competition and how do you plan to better your product each time?
We constantly evolve our products and their experience based on feedback we get from our customers. We try many ways to make our customers’ experience a happy one. Our goal is fully dependent on who we cater to, both in India and abroad. For us at Salud, the focus is always the customer and never the competition. We do not get worked up about competition as we feel there is enough space in the market for more brands to come and more customers’ needs to cater to.
- What changes have you made to strategy over the past few years?
We have been around only for a year. We have been here only during the COVID times. A larger part of the product strategy has been about the sale at outlets. The focus has always been that. While creating a product of convenience during the pandemic, we saw that our consumers could take our gin refreshers home to their family and friends or who they felt safer to be around. This went perfectly well with our brand, as Salud always believed in being a socially responsible brand. Promoted drinking at the comfort of your home during the peak of the pandemic. The idea of having your own space was conducive to the product and the plan that we came out with.
- Which qualities do you look at in a new employee?
Diligence, ability to focus on ideas, take ownership, ability to fall and get up, clear understanding of the vision, clear understanding of their role and pure passion for the brand that they work for.
- How much time did it take for your company to make a profit?
We are still in the first year and we will not have details of the P&L in the current financial year. We look to be operationally profitable by 2022-2023 and hopefully profitable overall in the next three years.
- How do you advertise your product or service?
We primarily use various digital platforms to market and advertise our alcobev product, merchandise and music, Influencer marketing being a part of it. We also focus on our own on-ground activities and sponsoring music events, festive bazaars, weekend parties, these are the various ways of advertising our product.
- Are you looking at investors abroad? You already have investors here in India.
We are not looking at investors right now since we are backed by the best team of investors and a venture capital company. Today we are moving onto our next phase, where we look at doing more with our footprints – which means expanding to more markets. Whether to add a manufacturing outlet in India or abroad is conducive to the money we raise. We are not specific to who the investor is as far it comes within the terms and conditions and it is legally bound. As long as it is right for the company, anybody and everybody are welcome.
- You mentioned expanding to a few countries like UK, UAE, Europe, Nepal and Sri Lanka. How come you are not considering Singapore and Hong Kong which can be your business hub?
We are going to markets where natural interest has come in so far. The UK, UAE and Nepal have expressed a natural interest in helping us build our brand globally. While we have interest coming in from these markets, we should be able to cater to them first rather than going to a new market and building the brand from scratch with no help or support. Hence why these markets are first on our global checklist.
- How did you start Salud merchandise?
Salud merchandise was conceptualised on the first day that we created Salud. We wanted to expand our brand beyond just alcobev and towards lifestyle. Our Creative Director has come up with this idea and is building on the same. We spent time designing it but we executed it only after we launched the brand.
- What is unique about your brand.
It is what we bring to the table – the freshness of the concept and the freshness of the brand. 2.0, which is an amalgamation of what people’s life is before and after Salud. Along with this, I also think it is the convenience of the product, the freshness, the price structure and the look and feel are the interesting areas that people could enjoy.