With Tough Times Come great Learning And It Is A Good Time For Industry To Come Together: Deep Kalra

Deep Kalra

A Weekly Show ‘ Talk With The Legends’ by Ajay Data, Founder of Data Group on VideoMeet, presents very thought-provoking and motivating views of famous and not-so-famous achievers who have done excellent and extraordinary works in their respective fields and set an example for others. This Week Ajay Data in his popular Talk Show interviews yet another very successful entrepreneur, innovator, and industry leader Deep Kalra who is a well-known name corporate circle. Deep Kalra, Founder and Group Executive Chairman of Make My Trip (MMT) narrates his journey so far and especially dwells upon tough times he and his company faced due to the current COVID crisis. He tells Data that tough times teach you many things and recommends going back to basics and keep yourself motivated all the time.  

@BR Bureau

School, College, and premium management institute of India had taught many things to Deep Kalra, and learning from there made him a very successful entrepreneur and innovator in the country. As an entrepreneur, after setting up MMT in 2000, he faced several ups and downs, and once it appeared that he would give up but sailed through all turbulent waters efficiently and with a strong will to survive.

There were challenges in managing his company which is heavily dependent on travel and tourism sectors’ performance but Deep Kalra and promoters managed it well and the company thrived to become a leader in this space. “Tough Times teach you many things,” he tells. But the real learning comes during a crisis which nobody had seen before. The COVID-19 crisis and its cascading effects on human lives, economy especially Tourism, Travel, and Tours sectors came as a big blow to him and his company.

“After setting up MMT in 2000, we went through ups and downs several times. Initially, it appears we would not able to carry our business. Till 2005, we struggled a lot to survive and in 2008 we witnessed a global financial crisis that adversely affected our business. In 2009, it was SARS that again hit the travel industry and after three years of boom, we again saw a crisis in the aviation sector in 2012 when Kingfisher went down and later JET Airways was grounded. These were turbulent times for us. But COVID-19 and lockdown threw an unprecedented challenge to us as an industry and we are still facing its burnt,” said Kalra.

“Our revenue went down by 95 per cent in April-June Quarter of the current Financial Year. You can imagine the situation. It was difficult to survive as our industry and allied services were the worst affected. So I and my partner Rajesh made the worst-case plan and we, as promoters, took a voluntary 100 percent salary cut and at lower and middle-level salary cut was 10 percent. Our team understood the situation well. The toughest decision of my 20 years of professional life was asking 10 percent of staff to quit,” he added.

“The main challenge was how to keep our teams busy and motivated, so during the lockdown we took up the most difficult plans which we were dumped so far. The strategy worked well and our teams delivered extraordinary solutions. One of the examples is ‘ Aarogya Setu App’ for the government of India which was entirely developed by our tech team albeit with support from other stakeholders including the government. I experienced that with tough times come great learning and it is a good time for the industry to come together. Now we collaborating more with big hotels and other allied industries,” Kalra told Ajay Data.

Deep Kalra is a legend in a true sense. Apart from running a successful business, he has mentored hundreds of startups. A lover of sports and travel, he is co-chairman of CII National Committee on Tourism and Hospitality and a member of NESCOM Center and Council. His contribution, as a member of the National Startup Advisory Council, Government of India, has been very significant in creating a robust startup ecosystem in India.

During the Talk, Kalra shared all about his life from childhood, academics, and school life, contributions of his teachers and school to build core values and deep learning, and his decision to go for Economics Honours from St. Stephen’s College even after qualifying for prestigious tech institutes such as Delhi School of Engineering and BITS Pilani.

He was pretty clear about his ambition to get admission to IIM Ahmedabad and pursue an MBA from one of the biggest colleges in India. An excellent academic career helped him in making strong decisions in life. He was modest enough to attribute his all success to his parents. His journey as an entrepreneur was not that easy. From a small travel agency to one of the biggest tour and Travel Company in the country with a huge turnover witnessed a lot of struggle for survival at different stages.

Giving tips to young entrepreneurs and future thought leaders of the country, Kalra suggested, “Go to the basics and remember fundamentals of every business have changed now, hence knowing your core strengths and aligning with new normal would be critical. Stay focused on your goals, if you want to do a business, then do it. Avoid rigidity and be flexible.”

“After a tough quarter, there are some indications of green shoots ahead. However, Travel, Tourism, Tours, Meetings, large Interactions, Events, and other services may take a longer time to be on the fast track again. However, there are new opportunities one can focus upon. Health-Tech (Digital Health) and Fin-Tech would offer huge opportunities. Post COVID period also see the rise of Micro Entrepreneurship in the country and that would be a growth driver,” the MMT chief predicted.

Kalra was candid enough to advise that always think on the positive sides and be grateful for whatever you have. He also said that entrepreneurs should focus on making out the best with what they have. Such a mindset will take you o another level of success and your business will do great in the future which may not be possible if you don’t go through such challenging times.

The show was hosted on made in India video conferencing software VideoMeet and attended by thousands of people.