Deepal Mistry inherited the entrepreneurial legacy in her spirit. Business runs into her blood since she is from a business family. The highs and lows that came with it were absorbed by her subconsciously from a very early age. It was in Grade 12 that Deepal’s first stint with doing a business independently came across.
A fun thing that started with two other friends actually got Deepal the confidence to put something out from scratch.
Deepal laughs it out, “To top it all, we (my two friends and me) even made a profit of 3200/- rupees each.” A good start in 1995 for a 16-year-old. “But more than the profit, it was the process that gave me a lot of insights,” shares Deepal.
She and her friends had put up a small sale of sarees, handicraft items and toddler accessories. Each of them had to arrange for one of the segments. Deepal had taken responsibility for the handicraft items and the toddler accessories. She contacted an aunt living in her area who made these items at home.
Deepal recollects, “So I approached her and explained my plans. She was so elated that she just opened up her inventory room for me and said, ‘Beta take whatever you wish to and can return whatever is not sold, but just ensure to pack it differently since the presentation is very important.”
Discovering Her Entrepreneurial Mindset
That was Deepal’s first learning, ‘Presentation is Important. So, she decided to put little Handwritten Grandma stories as a card on top of each toddler item and gave it a different look. Even the handicraft item had its genesis put on the label. Deepal reveals, “This was my learning into creativity and packaging innovation. It taught me to see beyond the price tag, one of the most important factors in the buying decision- The buyer’s emotion.”
This pearl of wisdom, learned at the age of 16, was partially realized when Deepal was into the B-school and fully realized and understood its power when she got into the corporate world, building brands from scratch to 500 Crores. (You can download the journey of the brand Telma: Building and Defending the Market Leader on the Harvard Business Review site: https://hbsp.harvard.edu/product/IMB521-PDF-ENG)
Having served at various levels in the hierarchy through her 22 years of experience, even as a Strategic Business Unit head in Pan India, Deepal kept constantly thinking, “Are we still done yet with the customer journey? Today’s Gen Z are already thinking very differently; tomorrow’s Gen T – Deepal’s connotation for Generation Technology – would be way ahead, so how can the brands and businesses still stay relevant? What is ‘that unique Strategy’ which would align with their needs and create value for a brand.”
Deepal shares, “Pondering upon this, sitting in the corner cabin of one of India’s top 15 Pharmaceutical companies, I was thinking of a way where Technology, Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence can work alongside each other rather than replacing the other to ensure a brand’s success.” How can Human intelligence and Artificial Intelligence play together? This idea led to the birth of ‘Ascent Insights.’
Ascent Insights offers Business Management, Phygital (Physical and Digital Branding Solutions) and Communications. In Deepal’s words, “We Help Businesses Grow Faster.”
Sailing through the Tumultuious Oceans
You must have heard the saying, ‘A smooth sea never makes a good sailor.’ This actually fits well with growing businesses. There are probably 150 million startups in the world today, with 50 million new startups being launched every year. Deepal says, “So yes, there is a myriad of challenges that I faced when I started.”
Battling unrealistic expectations
“My crazy expectations were mostly from myself. I expected to be Super Mom, wife of the year, and build a successful business all in the same year. Even though I was (and am) doing great in all the key areas of life, I often felt inadequate, which was exhausting. That is when I realized that I needed to translate what the real expectations are? Whether from self or in business. Sustainability is the name of the game. And sustainability requires consistent efforts.”
In order to succeed in a competitive business world, we need to have high but controlled expectations, keeping a view of the resources available, the extent of growth potential, and other market factors as well.
Money begets money. When income increases, the expenditures also increase. Another biggest challenge was financial management which I could navigate with the proper re-source management, thanks to my learnings at Glenmark of the P&L management.
Winning Trust of Customers
The customer is the king. Winning a customer’s trust is one of the most important challenges. Deepal expresses, “We at Ascent Insights work aggressively to implement a customer-centric working philosophy to enable their brands to succeed in attaining the sustainable growth and progress they desire to achieve in this tech-savvy, challenging and competitive business world with speed led by strategic insights.”
Creating a passionate team
Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Creating a team that can own and translate your passion as theirs is the biggest asset one can have, and I am fortunate to have a team like that,” thinks Deepal. Grounded in attitude but reaching the universe with their ideas, her team is a group of passionate individuals.
Last but not the least challenge was Achieving work-life balance
“As a mom of two and owner of two businesses, my greatest challenge as a female entrepreneur was finding balance. It can feel like your heart and your time are being tugged in a million different directions at once.”
The solution: “However, one thing that has helped me achieve that balance is by creating schedules and systems.”
According to Deepal, the kind of professional values and qualities clients value in her and Ascent Insights the most are Insights, Innovation, Consistency and Commitment.
Brand Building USPs
When asked what USPs highlight Ascent Insights’ uniqueness, Deepal thinks that behind every growth success story is a thoughtful strategy. She adds, “We also firmly believe that true differentiation takes courage, especially in an industry bound by a lot of promotional restrictions. That is why we use fact-based reasoning to overcome objections, build buy-in and establish critical momentum for the brands.”
A Legendary Wisdom
As an experienced professional, Deepal’s advice to the budding aspirants willing to enter the business world is legendary. She says that one must stop listening to all of these generalized “experts”. Know your own personal strengths and weaknesses – not what everyone says they should be as a woman. Use your strengths, address your weaknesses and pursue your goals.
A man, tough in business dealings, is respected for being savvy and getting things done. A woman is dismissed as being shrewd and bossy. Taking a woman boss or entrepreneur is not every man’s cup of tea.
Pro tip: ‘Know your stuff, real deep.’ Cliched, but you should know your product or business like how a mother knows her child. Nobody better than her can know. And on a lighter note, to top it, if you can discuss cricket, you are definitely in-to in the playing 11. (read team).
Never get scared to ask what you want to learn. And never got stopped by emotional or surrounding forces to stop you from learning.
Blending the Present and the Future
Regarding her envisioning Ascent Insights’ operations with the emerging technologies and automated tools that are revolutionizing the business world by enabling innovations, Deepal says that in the past ten years, we have seen technology moving at supersonic speed, probably touching human lives in a fashion that has practically modified the laws of Maslow’s theory. Involvement and implementation of technology have made themselves an integral part of the grid.
“We at Ascent Insights are working towards this vision where Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence work alongside each other, thereby helping Brands grow,” Deepal concludes.