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
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.”
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.
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