Bharat Malu, Director, Chymey, studied an advanced degree from S P Jain. Bharat also has a specialized learning qualification from LSE on International Business and IT Innovations. He spends his time obsessing about blends at his tasting lab in Nagpur when he is not out on an exploratory mission at a tea estate. He leads the innovation team at Chymey and is a certified tea specialist and a tea professional from the World Tea Academy. In an exclusive conversation he tells us about his favourite books, childhood memories and much more..
Where do you get your best ideas?
Exploration is the key. I extend this to every aspect of my personal and professional life. You don’t know when and how the two shall meet introducing you to your next big idea ! I make it a point to learn a new skill in my personal life that helps me explore a different facet of my personality. On a professional level I love to experiment and explore new flavours , textures and tastes across the food and beverage industry. At some point they merge to give your thoughts a new direction. But for the path to be forged the mind has to have content. Give it content that inspires and excites you. It will find a way for you.
What’s something they don’t teach you in University that you should probably know?
Real world challenges are sorely missing. Everything looks very clear and simple in books. However, it is completely opposite in the real world.
First thing you do as soon as you wake up?
The first thing I do is check emails and then read the news with a morning cup of flavorful tea. It is a ritual I enjoy and intend to continue.
What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses in the country?
I think this is a golden period for small businesses. There is an overwhelming sense of support for home grown brands right now. I do hope this patronage continues and translates into a habit rather than a trend. In the last couple of years small businesses from across cities in the country have flourished and are being appreciated and promoted to an extent that they create a very real impact. So heartening to see homegrown brands succeeding.
What was your biggest stroke of luck since the launch of your company?
I don’t believe in luck. It is only hard work and right timing. The only element I would attribute to luck is the decision to form a new company.
What do you typically read?
I enjoy reading articles over books. I have subscribed to quite a few newsletters that give me industry insights and others that job my mind into thinking in a new direction.
Best boss you had and what did you learn from them?
My dad is the best boss in my life. A visionary , the lessons he taught me on life and business were invaluable.
What question do you ask at interviews?
How enthusiastic are you about our products and are you willing to consider the brand as your own ? Because if you one cannot own the role they step into, especially at a start up it is very difficult to chase them to take onus of it. The passion for the industry and product is a very real quality. And either it is there or not there.
One thing you learned about yourself ?
Communication, motivation and appreciation are very important in leading a successful organisation.
How do you keep your team motivated & engaged?
I have a very inclusive style of leadership. I believe that teams need to be a part of the decision making process for them to be passionate about it. I ensure they are involved in making important discussions, take feedback with respect and involve them in the final decision.
How do you maintain work/life balance?
Work is a part of your life albeit a very important one. But not life itself.
I try to limit personal matters during office, and vice-versa. Going on holidays is equally important as a business trip. I encourage my teams to do the same.
A childhood memory that shaped something you do in your business today.
My family gave me the biggest and most important education of my life. They shared their passion for entrepreneurship with me at a very young age that lit the fire within. I quickly became an avid observer of how successful businesses are conducted across various industries. I used to visit any and all industries whenever I got a chance. This I believe helped me shape my decision of becoming an entrepreneur at an early stage.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Do not jump from idea to idea. It is a waste of your time, money and energy. Stick to the original idea from where you started, give it time and work at it.