Dipali Sikand: The Woman of Substance Who Took Fortune for a Ride

Dipali Sikand,Founder & Chairperson

Dipali Sikand

Founder & Chairperson

“Why worry about tomorrow and take away today’s strength?” The sentence may seem too metaphysical to many but for Dipali Sikand (Founder & Chairperson, Les Concierges Services Private Limited and Club Concierge Services Private Limited),this has been the very core of her upsurge from rags to riches and from failures to successes. The lady rose from nothing to building an empire in the uncharted territory of concierges that not many dare to roll into. It all began 19 years ago when she was going through a strained marriage and expecting her first baby in a few weeks’ time. “My entrepreneurial journey started because ‘Motherhood was the necessity for invention’. I look back today and see what seemed to be end of the world was really not the end at all,” says Dipali.

Transmuting from Caterpillar to Butterfly

To raise her son Aditya, Dipali had to move to Bangalore to be with her parents. “Circumstances didn’t allow me the luxury of more than a week to be at home and enjoy being a new mum, and I was back to work with a smaller telecom company in Bangalore,” reminisces Dipali. But with time, she grew tired of pushing personal files and deciding peoples’ promotions and percentages of increments. “I needed something more exciting to do,” she quips. This is when she found an opportunity to study human resource deployments in China while staying in Singapore. And things turned towards a new dawn there.

“I was not ready for life without the help of my faithful Ramu and Shamu – the boys who insured that in the non-internet world of those days, my entire home, bills, shopping, laundry, cooking, groceries and so forth, were all done while I could focus on work and enjoy my baby after working hours,” narrates Dipali. This was a Eureka moment for her and she dreamt of an all-purpose coordinator, a home guru, an errand runner, a Merlin Houdini.
And this Houdini was the evolution of the first ever corporate concierge programme in the world. “I took a sabbatical from work and rushed to Bangalore, went from pillar to post to try and position my company to the HR community there,” Dipali recalls. Soon IBM, Infosys, Accenture, Wipro, HP, Mascot and several others turned their belief in her concept into contracts and revenues. “This allowed me to do what I was born to do. Make people happy!” smiles Dipali. Further adding, she says, “It is a pleasure to see people whose lives were taken care by my growing team; their stress free happy faces knowing that no matter what it was, where it was and when it was, their concierge was at work, ensuring there to do lists were taken care of”.

The road to success is always under construction. However, to get over any challenge, the one thing you always need to remember – Do not let your fire go out

In 2002, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (an ace investor) acquired a substantial portion of Les Concierges to help the company broaden its geographical spread and deepen its talent pool. The company won several prestigious contracts across India, Dubai, Singapore, Japan, and South Africa. However, the fortune had some thing different planned for Dipali. The big-bang recession of 2008 brought almost a fall out for Les Concierges when one of its international contracts worth millions decided to pull off the deal. Till this time, Dipali spread her company to international territories hoping that the contract will help the company grow organically. “Over night we had to write off Rs.20 crore of borrowed money from the bank. We were deeply in red. Bills and borrowings debts built up. We had no one to turn to and that is when I learnt that when the going is tough, you actually have to rely finally on your own courage more than anything else,” says Dipali.

Adding to her predicament, the internet of things emerged with various‘free’ options being offered for precisely the work Les Concierges did. It looked as if e-Commerce companies were going to destroy the concierge industry that Dipali built with her blood and soul. “Each day was a challenge! But when
someone asked me how do I go on in spite of having gone through so much, I replied – I am a survivor and not a victim,” recalls Dipali. She believes that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. This downtime could not break her quenching drive and vision to create the product she dreamt of.“The road to success is always under construction. However, to get over any challenge, the one thing you always need to remember – Do not let your fire go out, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all,”emphasises Dipali.

Dipali’s strength lies in her ability to be able to create forward looking concepts and services. “However, the greatest strength of any entrepreneur is in knowing that every business, no matter the product or the service, is about people. The moment you recognize this, you will always remain above and beyond those that don’t,” says she. Dipali did exactly this and created a family rather than a company who treats clients as their foremost responsibility.

Take Charge with Self-belief

Being associated with Youth Congress in Mumbai taught Dipali to take her stand by and stand for her courage of conviction. It also deep-drilled self-belief in her blood which helped her make a mark in the unchartered concierges world. She believes that failure is the pillar of success and if she had to choose to invest in an entrepreneur today, she’d invest in one that has failed and still hasn’t given up. “Here I would like to leave you with four Ps: Passion with a purpose, personalisation, perspective, and profit is king. Remember entrepreneurship is just a path you have chosen. Be fore warned that this is the road less travelled. The destination is limitless – get on the road,” emphasizes Dipali.

With most awesome committed family comprising of 103 year old grandmother and two very precious kids accompanied with 13 dogs, Dipali has today set herself as a perfect example of high-spirited woman. “It took us several gruesome years to reach where we are today, but none of us lost faith, and every experience we had was a reason to learn more to do better,” concludes Dipali. While her day begins at 5 AM taking 5000 steps walk with her youngest dog, Dipali likes to relish her taste buds with Prawn Curry and Rice, Indian Chinese Chicken Fried Rice and spicy chilly chicken. A perfect holiday destination for her is the majestic Nilgiris.