At the helm of Bangalore-based Hairline International is a dynamic young woman who has charted the growth of the company from the word go – Dr Bani Anand.
A field where hitherto only dermatologists and cosmetologists were being consulted for hair problems, she has created Hairline to be a holistic treatment center with a totally scientific approach.
For Hairline, bringing in international hair treatments much before they are envisaged in the Indian market has become second nature. And in just 2.5 years since its inception, today Hairline boasts of a turnover of nearly Rs 52 million with just 6 centers in Bangalore.
Naaree.com caught up with Dr. Bani Anand, Founder and MD, Hairline International, to learn what drives her and what lessons she has for other entrepreneurs.
What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?
Well, I have been groomed by an entrepreneur, which is to say my mother. So, it was but natural to take it through in the same space. I guess early learnings and good mentoring has contributed to me becoming an entrepreneur.
I think as you groom early you eventually do get into something that inspires you and follow through with it.
When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?
I think it is the lack of availability of these services and resources in the country in comparison to what is available on international platforms besides the development of innovation combined with the understanding of customer needs.
There is a certain trending rhythm we follow which comes from customer needs and that feeds the gut of the business model.
What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?
Well, I started out on my own primarily on the basis of market and customer understanding through debt funding started one hair and skin clinic and in a span of seven years have built seven dermatology clinics in Bangalore with a pathology lab where the blood work gets done.
We also have a research lab, research institute and an ethics committee today to support commerce and research and medical publication. Passion for the subject was my inspiration and customer understanding was my forte. Merged the two and well I had a plan.
Some of the learnings are persistent, never give up on your dreams no matter how difficult it gets, change is inevitable internally and externally, adaptation to change is a must. Keep learning and growing that’s the only way forward.
Learn from your mistakes you are bound to make them. Continuous learning and upgradation is key to any business with an eye for innovation so keep that eye open always. For all you know you could be leading the way.
Have faith and build strong teams so that they can drive your dreams with complete dedication. Have fun along the way it’s important to reenergise yourself and your teams.
Show your teams your passion and they will drive the business for you. I think this kind of sums up the thought.
What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to entrepreneurs on overcoming them?
Well working with doctors and teams was a challenge in the beginning with everyone looking in a different direction. In essence team building, putting a vision together with so many mindsets and obstacles was a very big challenge.
But time, conviction, logic, training, mentoring all help you eventually in overcoming these challenges.
Sometimes you build your dream as you go along. It comes to you bit by bit which we call evolution. That evolution is an outcome of the dynamics of a business and probably is the best way to go forward. There is always some form of chaos but your effort is to minimise it.
As advice, I would say be cautious and yet follow your instinct. Do the math and see if it adds up from a business point of view. Dream of building something that can actually create real value in real time. Think ahead of time that’s that only way forward. Drive your team to think on those lines.
Understand that problem solving is a daily task you need to do so there’s no running away from it. Take your decisions calmly and not in haste because some of the best decisions made are made with a calm mind.
What are all the things that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
I think patience, dedication, long working hours, debt-raising ability, ability to sell your vision and raise money for growth purposes, execution ability on the ground and a strong arm to market those services.
Which is why I will reiterate that it’s important to create something that is real by that I mean a need that fulfils a real need or needs to come (pre-empt).
Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?
No, I don’t think so. If you are a visionary with a good lucrative idea to sell all you need to do is add more people based on what will help you make a stronger team and you should be on your way to roll out your project.
The idea, the team and the profits generally are the bigger goals when it comes to raising funds. Debt funding is always available, government institutions support, angel investors, private equities, venture capitalists etc are some of those ways of raising monies.
Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?
Well mentoring is always good, but I think it becomes more crucial when you are at a juncture of raising funds.
Experience will always teach you something and especially from someone capable of making that difference and building something of real value.
So guidance = growth generally.
How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?
Newspaper advertisements were the way to go back then. It wasn’t really difficult.
What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?
Be patient while building your business, build it with passion and follow through with perseverance and innovation. The rest will follow.
What would you describe as your biggest moments of success in your business?
I think our biggest moments of success are yet to come I think. It gives me complete joy when I am able to bring in bring in new edge treatments for hair and skin which drive in exceptional results from time to time.
Recently we brought in skin and hair DNA testing which enables customisation of supplements, topicals, and therapies based on your genetic markers.
Bettering our results is always something that keeps us going. Launching that research institute, doing incredible research on environmental pollutants and its impact on hair and skin.
Publishing our work in medical journals, national and international awards, getting better results with time. I think these are some of those things that kind of give you those joys really.
For us, research drives our innovation and we are committed to advancing the cause of the same in the time to come.