GIM alumnus Anant Sandhu reminds us why bold decisions are often crucial for turning around businesses
For a management graduate, true success is not just about climbing the corporate ladder. It truly lies in pursuing one's passion and turning it into a personal and professional success story. Anant Sandhu (GIM alumnus, Batch 2006-08) has charted the course of success with Delhi Dance Academy, rated No. 1 in the National Capital. Taking over a flagging dance academy after a successful stint in his brother's Internet marketing company in the UK, he brought about a major turnaround in the academy's fortunes. Before long the business expanded to include fitness and corporate classes, events, workshops, and more. So how did he achieve all this in a short time? Let's find out.
Coming to GIM after working in your brother's web development business, you never really wanted to pursue a career in the corporate world. Did you?
Influenced by my brother and also fascinated by possibilities of running my own venture, I was never convinced about taking up a job. That made me opt out of placements and, to this day, I have not regretted that decision. After graduating, I joined my brother's business, which we slowly expanded to develop a good client base in UK and India.
With the business at its peak, you decided to turn your attention to Delhi Dance Academy. How did that happen?
We always wanted to try our hands at a physical business, which would be very different from the virtual Internet-based business that we were running. Because of our network and contacts, we had the option to come back to Internet Marketing if our new venture failed. It was in 2012 that we came across a small dance academy in South Delhi: with around 20 students, the academy didn't have proper infrastructure and management. We decided to take it on.
Your taking up the challenge seemed to have paid off, as there has been a remarkable turnaround in the company's fortunes. What changes did you bring about in the dance academy?
More than a challenge, we saw it as an opportunity to experiment and get our hands dirty in the world of physical business. We started putting the basics like cleanliness, communications, and quality of teaching in place. Results soon followed. By 2014, we had expanded to 2 centres and around 300 students every month. Today Delhi Dance Academy is a household name. It has trained thousands of students and has worked with several corporate companies.
The business growth seems to have taken a life of its own, as today you offer fitness classes and workshops and host events. What, according to you, are some big achievements of the academy?
Within two years of our taking over, Delhi Dance Academy won the Best Dance Academy in Delhi award. Press coverage by top media organizations followed. We also used our Internet Marketing experience to ensure we had a strong online and social media presence. The revenues grew and today we have 30 dance instructors working at the academy. We have automated processes so that the academy functions well on its own. We only take care of accounts and strategy and have gone back to Internet Marketing to handle lucrative projects for our previous clients.
Seamlessly handling the two businesses, you have managed to bring strengths from one into the other. Is that something that excites you as an entrepreneur?
In the 10 years since I graduated from GIM, I have seen many failures and disappointments. In fact, there are problems that we face even today. But that is exactly what makes the process challenging and exciting at the same time. I am grateful to my alma mater for the knowledge and values it has helped me imbibe. The learning has become an integral part of the business ethos. It has been an amazing journey since graduation and it gives me immense satisfaction to be able to run two businesses.
Looking back on your time at GIM, what are some of the memories that stand out?
I made some amazing friends at GIM and these friendships have lasted way beyond the two years. The old campus, my teachers, my classmates, the lectures, night outs, bike rides, volleyball and football matches, and the GIM Song, among other memories, will be cherished forever. All these significant memories have motivated me to take the road less travelled, and I hope to continue to do so.