Meet happy and passionate entrepreneur – Ajay Shetty

1. As a start-up what kind of an entity should you set up? 

It all depends on what your business decisions are. For us, on the recommendation of our financial advisor, Private Limited was the best option to enable us to seek and receive money. So that is what we decided to move forward with. 

2. There is so much competition around you and if you have a great idea or strategy in mind. How do you protect it so that the others do not steal your idea? 

You can’t really protect every idea. You do what trademarking you are able to, and believe in the system. The recent governments have made it a lot easier to get your ideas patented, your design, your names. Systems are very transparent. You own the trademarks to certain things. Those are the basic ones to get done. But once you’re in the public domain, you have to be ready for the competition to come. In any case, there are very few ideas that you will have that are so unique that nobody else can replicate them or think of them simultaneously. It’s all about how you execute the ideas you do have. That is what will make the difference. And, of course, you can keep coming up with new and better ideas and keep the competition on its toes, if not away from your heels! 

3. How did you come up with the idea of Salud? 

Salud means ‘cheers’, and it was born of the idea to give people exciting, convenient premium-yet-affordable new ways to party and celebrate life. The essence of the Salud is an aspirational brand with life and lifestyle as its ethos. 

4. The amount of time that you commit to your business. 

All my time! Whenever I am currently working, it is on this venture. The goal is, in a start-up especially, when you’re passionate about it you don’t look at it like work. When you are passionate you don’t really measure time. I genuinely don’t look at how many hours I put in or I don’t put in. It is just about getting the job done in the current scenario and making sure things are sorted out and we are able to reach our goals as a brand and as a company, within the timelines we have set. 

5. What are the biggest mistakes made by start-up entrepreneurs? 

In a start-up situation, it is all very subjective, but in general the most important thing is for anybody to be able to estimate finances. The amount of money you need to generate and create a start-up, as well as how to sustain it. Raising finances is one thing, and the second is the execution of those finances. I am a huge believer that these two are the key factors. Most people tend to get carried away with concepts and being able to strike a balance between what you want to do, and what you can do in a specific moment, is the key aspect for any business. I generally recommend people to focus on finance and the execution of the idea. 

6. As a start-up you’re currently trying to solve? 

The gap between the desire for and accessibility of convenient drinking. I want to get rid of the notion that good quality cannot be affordable, inclusive and easy. The plan is to create a portfolio of classy non-conformist accessible beverages – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – for my target audience. 

7. Why do you feel the market opportunity is large? 

Globally, especially in a Covid world, the market for ready-to-drink beverages – whether it is in the low alcohol range or in the alcohol range – has increased tremendously. The target audience has become more conscious of what and how they consume. They want something that is convenient anywhere and anytime, uncomplicated and inclusive. These are the three reasons we feel that a brand like ours will resonate with a large audience. More than anything I feel that the market size in general over the last few years has grown tremendously. Consumption has increased. Drinking patterns have moved towards premium or premium-like and people have been gravitating towards spirits or non-alcoholic beverages that are easy-to-drink, at home or on the go. That is what has given us the opportunity, and our data has backed up our observations. 

8. What is that one important quality you look for in your employees? 

Loyalty. I am very loyal to people and that is the most important quality we look at everyone we look to hire. I am a big believer that loyalty is something that cannot be bought. It is something which is in-built. 

9. How do you make sure that your information and metrics are up to date? How do you maintain the confidentiality of all your marketing strategies within your company? 

Once you market something it is in the public domain. Your strategies, your future strategies are always kept within. It is very simple. You have people to run particular departments and departments are run by people who are either subject matter experts or have been trained to become subject matter experts. Then you delegate tasks to these people, each of whom has their own team and metrics to execute a particular concept right. From there it goes into our weekly pool, where we look at all the strategies and all the work that we put out. It could be finance, it could be operations, creative work or distillery work and blending work. These are the various departments that we have and then we keep this as an open forum for the top management team to be involved in. Then we make final decisions based on it. It is multi laboured and it is layered through the channels and the decisions are made by the team in general. 

10. Your story is very inspiring. You’re a self-made entrepreneur. How does it feel to be famous? 

I am generally asked this question. I am very humbled by it. I treat it like a by-product of what is the work that we put in for the company and this possibly enhances the optics of what the brand is and I am grateful for it. Does it change my day to day life? No it does not. It just makes me want to work harder and longer to ensure that this sustains as it helps the brand a lot. 

11. Who do you owe your success to? 

To my family, my friends and my support system. They are the reason why I am here and I really owe it all to them.

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