Being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot more than fortune. Because fortune favours those who pursue their dreams whatever may come their way. They adapt to changing times by moulding themselves accordingly.
They tenaciously follow up on their pursuit of seeking excellence in anything and everything they do. Harshal Dilwali’s entrepreneurial journey began at a very young age before he became the Director and CEO of Clarissa Resorts Private Limited. He is from a business-oriented family, so he always had the ambition to become an entrepreneur.
He was preparing for engineering and got admission to some prestigious colleges in India before destiny had something else for him. Suddenly his family business drifted towards the hospitality sector (Hotels and Resorts) and they opened their first resort in 2014 in Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand with the name Clarissa Resort.
To run that business in the future, Harshal had to give up engineering and take up a Hotel Management course. He gave competitive exams for IHMs and luckily got selected in the most reputed college in Delhi NCR.
From there Harshal’s new life from becoming an engineer to becoming an entrepreneur started. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Hotel Administration, but the three years journey was not easy. He had to go through lot many departments which were very new to him and had no prior idea about it.
Harshal recollects, “The initial few months were tough for me to cope with because it was a government institute and had no similarity with my previous studies. But I never give up and made it very clear that if I have to become a successful Hotelier in the future, I need to excel in this course.”
He topped his college throughout the year. During that time, he used to practically implement things in the business that he used to learn in college. That gave him tremendous results and boosted his confidence.
Harshal started gaining more and more experience while working and studying together. Over time in 2017, he lost his biggest support, his grandfather. However, soon had been appointed as the director of the company at the age of 19, becoming one of the youngest directors in Uttarakhand in 2017.
The responsibility was huge and Harshal was very excited to join the business as soon as he graduated. But the journey doesn’t end there. His parents did not allow him to join the business until he completed his master’s. That frustrated him initially but started preparing for his master’s soon after.
Harshal did MBA with Gold Medal in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and also did specialization in Digital Marketing from Finland, where he again topped and got featured in many newspapers and interviewed by news channels.
Soon after completing his master’s, Harshal was appointed as the CEO of the company along with the Director’s responsibility in the year 2020. But that was not it, the storm came, and just after two months of his joining as the full-time CEO of the company everyone was hit by the pandemic, and the hospitality sector had to face a major crunch.
That was when Harshal’s patience and persistence were tested. He along with his team prepared the first web check-in technology software for their resort and Clarissa became one of the first resorts in India to provide web check-ins to all its customers. This reduced the infection risk of COVID. Harshal also moved ahead in digitalizing the whole company by introducing more advanced technology and software. This concept worked very well and was a big success. Later by God’s grace, everything went well.
Harshal along with his parent’s support expanded their business and opened two more Hotels in Goa in the year 2021 and Mukteshwar, Nainital, in the year 2022 respectively. Harshal says, “Now after almost 9-10 years in this business as an entrepreneur, I feel very passionate and motivated with my never give up attitude, and continue to learn more skills.”
Clarissa Resorts has been featured in various newspapers, magazines, and media sites. It has also been awarded the Travel’s Choice Award back-to-back for the year 2020-2021. Harshal adds, “Recently we also introduced our flagship company Clarissa Residency offering our customers high-end villas to have their second home.”
Apart from this Harshal always aspired to become a speaker one day. In 2020 during the pandemic, he got the opportunity to explore his skills more and he professionally completed his certification courses in Public/Motivational speaking and got featured on more than 500+ news media sites and more than 300+ podcasts both nationally and internationally.
He was also interviewed by many news channels in India. Harshal is now a professional and certified Public/Motivational Speaker and Facilitator too. In 2021, he has been Awarded as the Youngest Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 by Global Business Icon and Biz Nation Tv and was awarded twice as the Entrepreneur of the Year 2021-2022 by Fanatixx India Awards.
In an interview with CIOLook India, Harshal spoke in detail about his inspiration, the challenges he faced, and his plans for Clarissa Resorts. Highlights of the interview are given herein.
What was your inspiration behind venturing into the business arena?
As people say there is always an inspiration behind every venture, similarly, I also had many people whom I considered my idols, my inspiration, and from whom I have learned a lot in my life.
First would be my grandfather who has inspired me the most and generated that trust and confidence in me to become an entrepreneur like him. Next would be Mr. Rattan Tata sir who inspires all youth with his simplicity and achievement, Mr. Warren Buffet would be another inspiration. They both taught me the true meaning of Entrepreneur and how to become an entrepreneur.
But the most important people behind my inspiration were my parents. Their constant efforts and pillar-like support were true reasons behind my becoming an entrepreneur today.
What were the initial challenges that you had to surmount to ensure your enterprise’s success rate reached greater heights?
Challenges are part of one’s life. I also faced many challenges during my journey. Some challenges were emotional and some were physical. The emotional challenges were mostly because of the education and work. I had to be mentally strong to take up a course that was totally different and new for me.
Secondly after joining the company biggest challenge was the age gap and experience between me and my employees. I used to think in a dynamic and more advanced way as a young generation but the staff used to think conventionally and found it tough initially to adjust to each other’s mindset. It took a lot of time for me to gain their trust in me because I was younger and less experienced than them.
Also, getting them familiar with the new technologies introduced. The last challenge was the societal pressure, and criticism from relatives and friends, but my parents stood next to me as a pillar. People never believed in me and really had no hopes that I will ever be successful in the future.
What leadership skills, values, and qualities do you think your clients admire in you the most?
I have 25 secrets or mantras of my life which have helped me to become a better person and a successful entrepreneur, which I believe everyone should follow. The Secrets are as follows:
- Dream big,
- Develop a clear sense of direction,
- See yourself self-employed,
- Do what you love to do,
- Commit to excellence,
- Work longer and harder,
- Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning,
- Pay yourself first,
- Learn every detail of your business,
- Dedicate yourself to serving others,
- Be absolutely honest to yourself and others
- Determine your highest priorities and concentrate on them single-mindedly,
- Develop a reputation for speed and dependability,
- Be prepared to climb from peak to peak,
- Practice self-discipline in all things,
- Unlock your inborn creativity,
- Get around the right people,
- Take excellent care of your physical health,
- Be decisive and action-oriented,
- Never allow failure to be an option/never give up
- Pass the ‘persistence test’
- Respect the other person
- Value money/bootstrapped
- Focus and passion
What are the USPs that highlight Clarissa Resorts’ uniqueness in the industry you are catering to?
Our main USPs are as follows.
- Making our guests’ experience count through our contemporary facilities and unparalleled services is our prime motivation. Our exceptional teamwork involves regular inspection and up-gradation to keep at par with the constantly changing dynamics. This helps us to welcome you with a renewed zeal that understands your desires of wanderlust.
- With dedicated staff, diligence in services, and determination to be the best for our visitors.
- We are committed to meeting and exceeding the expectations of our guests by providing them with the highest level of quality service, safety, and security.
- We commit to providing our corporate and leisure travellers with a consistently warm and friendly guest experience and fond memory.
- We offer our guests a wide range of facilities right from Spectacular locations and scenic beauty, Luxurious rooms, Multi Cuisine Restaurants, Spa, Adventure Park, to Game zone. Also provide our guests to do destination weddings, conferences, and a lot more. We cater to all types of customers.
As an experienced professional, what would you like to advise the budding aspirants willing to enter the business world?
I firmly believe that nowadays, people give up very easily and go into depression. But I strongly believe that ” giving up should never be an option. The word impossible should never exist in your dictionary. One should always follow their heart and work hard towards achieving their dreams.
I always say that one should always dream big in life. One should develop a clear sense of direction in one’s life, commit to excellence, work longer and harder towards one’s goals, be dedicated to lifelong learning, be honest with oneself, unlock your inborn creativity, get around the right people, respect others, be decisive and action-oriented and most important never allow failure to be an option.
I possess a down-to-earth personality and follow a simple lifestyle. I believe that the real reason behind any success is one’s hard work, passion, and dedication to his work.
How do you envision Clarissa Resorts’ operations with the emerging technologies and automated tools that are revolutionizing the business world by enabling innovations?
As I always say that this world has turned more dynamic and technology upgradation is an integral part to sustain the market. Clarissa is a highly technology-equipped firm right from its PMS (Property Management Software) to its first web check-in website. Clarissa Resorts became one of the first to turn 100% digital during the pandemic time and reduced as many touch points as it could.
We introduced QR codes for ordering the food. By just scanning the QR code, the whole menu gets displayed on our customers’ phones and they can order their desired food and beverage.
Not only this, but they can also reserve their table in our restaurant from anywhere. We offer our guest express check-ins through our first web check-in website where they fill in the information before the check-in and they do not have to spend time at reception waiting for their rooms to get allotted, their rooms are ready even before their check-in. We also introduced QR codes for quick and swift payments.
Thus, Clarissa Resorts thrives to excellence by introducing all the latest, modern, and advanced technologies to rival the revolutionary businesses in the world.