Shruti Dhanda: A Travel Aficionado Catering To Ever Evolving Demands Of Travellers

Shruti Dhanda: A Travel Aficionado Catering To Ever Evolving Demands Of Travellers

Shruti Dhanda,FounderHave time Will travel This is the lifestyle mantra of the twenty first century. People are travelling over weekends, short holidays, planned vacations and even as part of their work. Travelling is the new life experience which encompasses places, people, food and just a different way of looking at our lives. It indeed moulds us into better, open, outgoing and awesome human beings that people want to hang out with, and probably the new Dos Equis some day.

Shruti Dhanda(Founder,The Strutt Store) is one such travel aficionado who is always excited and enticed by travelling, as she loves to bask in the beauty of diverse destinations and cuisines. It was during the course of her travels, she witnessed rapid changes in the way people were planning their journeys duration of stay, the kind of places they were visiting, and what and how they were carrying their things.

Shruti was surprised that these ever evolving demands of travellers were not being addressed by anyone, even the large established brands, as they didn't seem to innovate beyond their legacy designs. That's when she came up with her own travel luggage brand The Strutt Store, exclusively to cater to the travel requirements of millennials and also to make them feel good when they carry a Strutt bag. Shruti has passionately articulated her story and her store, with CEO Insights.

What are your biggest strengths as an entrepreneur?
Stick with it. Sometimes I feel I should be able to give it up, at least once in a blue moon(advice occasionally handed out by well meaning people).Just can't. Every challenge brings new learning which is what excites me. Come to think about it this is what makes
everything worth while.

My Co-Founder Vishesh Khosla is the other great asset. Vishesh is not only strong, reliable and trust worthy, we share a great deal of mutual respect. Tenacity, risk taking ability and support from my Family, Co-Founder, team and friends have always been the three biggest facets of my success and also defines the Culture of Strutt.

For me, as my team walks with me to build the Strutt Story, is the most exciting part of the journey

We celebrate not only my victories, but failures too because it is from failures, you learn something new and as a team, this remains our driving focus. My external engagements which involve speaking occasionally at MBA schools on entrepreneurship, more frequently at ISB, while hosting business and design internships at Strutt help me to use this forum to interact with a variety of people both in my chosen field and outside it.

Walk us through your prior experiences that led tothe establishment ofThe Strutt Store.
Post graduating with an Economics degree from Delhi University, I went on to pursue MBA at ISB in 2007. Right after college, I established my first venture with the exposure I gained there while procuring two major funds. Thanks to V. Kola and S. Andhra who were my mentors at the time and to whom I will always be grateful for the confidence they reposed in me.

The capital generated by the business was phenomenal so I had great success in scaling it up. Later, I sold it in 2013 to do something more scalable. That's when The Strutt Store was born! Over the span of my career, I gained great insights on how to build an organisation, identify bottlenecks, the value of always providing a great product, realized the importance of logistics, and of course the Customer being the key focus of all our Innovation and Service.

I have always been fortunate with the people who have worked with
me in spite of difficult conditions under which a startup works. I have had an almost zero attrition rate at both businesses as people who mattered always stayed with me. While these experiences have enabled me to start, innovate and manage a production line for topnotch leather and faux leather travel bags at The Strutt Store, it has not been without serious challenges.

During the course of perfecting the new process and understanding the new clientele at Strutt, we ran out of funds often. Each time we have managed to find people who believed in us. Support has come from friends, family and customers. We have always managed to come up with innovative ways to raise capital, formed the right team with like minded people and got our ball rolling again.

Tell us about your family's support along with experiences of pitching to VCs.
My parents thought I was extremely special and was born to do something exceptional. This gave me the initial confidence to follow my way and not tread the beaten path. They have always sup-ported me emotionally and financially while letting me never quit, even during hard times. Moreover, they always let me make my own decisions even after making their suggestions.

I believe that any startup ought to focus onthe job and the rest will follow. Funding should never be the end goal, it should be a means to an end. Not every investor has to agree with you, you need to be patient to find the one person who is willing to bet on the horse to win the race.

How is The Strutt Store outshining as the go to travel luggage brand for customers?
We are pioneers in offering a wide range of holdalls and carryalls in the soft luggage bracket, which caters to each traveller's individual needs & style requirements through constant innovations. Our travel friendly designs have found an excellent response with the young and frequent travellers. Our latest initiative in focusing on the airline industry with their ever changing rules has helped us in creating each bag with a single purpose of making the traveller's life easier and more comfortable.

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