Busi­ness­woman DARSHANA UBL gets talk­ing about her VERVE RALLY

DARSHANA UBL is not just any woman busi­ness­woman. Her VERVE RALLY al­lows trav­ellers to live the lux­u­ri­ous hol­i­day in Europe they de­serve, right from lav­ish cars to ex­clu­sive fun stays and more. She speaks to Citadel about this ven­ture and her jour­ney as a

Citadel - - CONTENTS - BY UMA KARVE CHAKRANARAYAN citadel@mag­na­m­ags.com

What does it take to set up busi­ness in the UK, the melt­ing pot of cul­tures, a place where en­trepreneurs, dream­ers, artists and mu­si­cians strike it big? When you meet Darshana Ubl, you know that it is a lot more than just hard work that goes into it. There has to be an in­sane de­sire to strike it big, the abil­ity to push your lim­its to meet your own re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and the ca­pac­ity to make it all hap­pen. It’s not just about dream­ing big, but also get­ting that spirit to achieve those dreams. And all these qual­i­ties have con­verged in Darshana... at least, that’s what you think when you meet her in per­son.

THE PER­SON SHE IS

In the UK for only six years, Darshana is al­ready an en­tre­pre­neur, men­tor and ad­vi­sor to var­i­ous com­pa­nies. She also sits on the boards of a few com­pa­nies, guid­ing them on strat­egy, mar­ket­ing, brand­ing and on their over­all rev­enue stream­ing. All this took a lot of ef­fort in­deed. From work­ing in In­dia as a model, RJ and en­tre­pre­neur, to mov­ing to Sin­ga­pore, lead­ing mar­ket­ing teams and run­ning a com­pany as GM, to head­ing to Lon­don with an en­tre­pre­neur visa, Darshana, now in her late 30s, tells us it was pos­si­ble only be­cause she was very clear about every­thing she wanted to achieve. In­deed, her pe­tite frame has a lot of power packed into it for be­ing the go-get­ter that she is.

DRIV­ING A DIF­FER­ENT DREAM

In her win­ter home in Pune, Darshna is pre­par­ing for the third year of one of her en­ter­prises, the Verve Rally, a lux­ury car drive across Europe. She says, “Pune is close to my heart. I fin­ished my BA and MA in Eco­nom­ics at Fer­gus­son Col­lege,

UOP, made great friends and fab­u­lous mem­o­ries.” Once you get her talk­ing about Pune, she can’t stop. For her, the city is rather spe­cial in­deed. “Pune has grown so much ev­ery year that I visit. It is a par­adise for food­ies like me, of­fers you the fun that Mum­bai does with­out the crowds. The con­nec­tiv­ity to Goa and to Mum­bai gives it a big plus in my book. What’s more is that ev­ery year, it is the place where we friends from around the globe get to­gether,” she adds. Pune was also among the first places she went on long drives with friends. And that is what led her to this ven­ture. Nat­u­ral then that she chose Pune as the sec­ond In­dian city (af­ter Mum­bai) to launch Verve Rally. “Our roads in In­dia are so bad that there is no plea­sure in driv­ing. Sim­i­larly, my hus­band Mar­cus Ubl and I found our­selves stuck ei­ther be­hind a bus or go­ing at 20 miles an hour in Lon­don. We wanted a hol­i­day where we could drive and see fan­tas­tic places to­gether. Thus was born Verve Rally, with Mar­cus as the driv­ing force and I as the peo­ple per­son,” she adds. With Paris just a cou­ple of hours away from Lon­don, the two charted maps and since then are driv­ing to­gether hap­pily. The idea is to visit Chateaux, a vine­yard, the finest ho­tels and pic­turesque routes and make as many de­light­ful mem­o­ries, net­work and more. Liv­ing the fine life is quite a plea­sure, one must say.

GO­ING ABOUT IT

A con­form­ist when it comes to giv­ing back to so­ci­ety, Darshana fol­lows this prin­ci­ple, “All my busi­nesses have to do some­thing for the greater good - for me, for the peo­ple I’m do­ing busi­ness with and for so­ci­ety. So, we have the Verve Char­ity Gala, where I raise funds and give them straight to a char­ity. For the Verve Rally, we cal­cu­late our car­bon foot­print and plant trees to off­set the car­bon through the PATT Foun­da­tion. We are the first Euro­pean rally to be truly car­bon neu­tral.” A high achiever (and seen through her work), Darshana adds, “I have been for­tu­nate to be able to get all that I set out to do. Mar­cus and I found the per­fect bal­ance to work to­gether and to fo­cus on dif­fer­ent as­pects of the busi­ness. As a cou­ple, we dream to­gether and meet our goals. In those ways, I am lucky.”

“Pune has grown so much ev­ery year that I visit. It is a par­adise for food­ies like me, of­fers you the fun that Mum­bai does with­out the crowds.The con­nec­tiv­ity to Goa and to Mum­bai gives it a big plus in my book.”

THE DE­TAIL­ING

For any­body who wants to do busi­ness in the UK, Darshana tells you it is pos­si­ble, pro­vided you give it your all. “The visa is ex­pen­sive. Once you get used to the cul­ture, ap­pre­ci­ate their pro­fes­sion­al­ism and be equally prompt about meet­ing time­lines, etc, noth­ing

is im­pos­si­ble. Whether as a woman en­tre­pre­neur or a male, if you have the right strat­egy, have strong ethics and val­ues in busi­ness, no­body can stop you,” she spe­cially stresses. Lon­don is known for the stiff up­per lip. Eti­quette and man­ners take prom­i­nent place in Bri­tish so­ci­ety. “Yes, the peo­ple there are con­ser­va­tive and don’t trust eas­ily, but as you work, you gain trust and you know that the re­la­tion­ships you build are gen­uine. If you play by their rules, then it’s all fair. Un­like in In­dia, please and thank you are a must. And that is a pleas­ant way to work,” she em­pha­sises. Surely, it is a learn­ing fac­tor for many oth­ers.

WALK­ING THE TIGHT ROPE

Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is no cake­walk, but it is some­thing that you must do when the right op­por­tu­nity knocks. There comes a time when you have to in­vest in your­self. “When you work for some­body, the emo­tional in­vest­ment is dif­fer­ent from when you run your own busi­ness. Then the cap­i­tal is your own and so all emo­tions are your own. Work­ing hard and work­ing smart in and on the busi­ness are very im­por­tant. As with every­thing, these things come out of only ex­pe­ri­ence,” says the sea­soned en­tre­pre­neur.

“Whether as a woman en­tre­pre­neur or a male,if you have the right strat­egy,have strong ethics and val­ues in busi­ness, no­body can stop you.”

Recog­nis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that come your way is most im­por­tant to do well in busi­ness. Darshana’s list for se­lect­ing the right op­por­tu­ni­ties is sim­ple. They should: have a good rev­enue model; should have skill sets to match that; and, the growth plan has to be in place.

FAM­ILY IN­FLU­ENCE

Darshana’s in­cli­na­tion to busi­ness was nur­tured as a child by her fa­ther. “He took me along to stock mar­kets af­ter school and to the bank. I knew back then that I would man­age my money and in­vest­ments, and I do that re­li­giously to­day. The day would end with a fruit and nut lassi, which kind of sealed the deal,” she laughs of her grow­ing up days in Mum­bai and Gu­jarat. As a busi­ness per­son, Darshana tells us, “Some busi­nesses have more re­turns, some more ful­fil­ment. At one time, it was all about re­turns, and now it is ful­fil­ment. Just re­mem­ber never to let your health suf­fer. I can af­ford to take a few months off and en­joy life too; only be­cause I have worked 18 hour days when re­quired and I know I can do it again.” That’s true en­trepreneurial spirit.

Par­tic­i­pants of the rally at a French Chateau with some of the high end cars

Darshana with hus­band Mar­cus Ubl

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