From business journalism to running a business – Vishakha Talreja’s journeySaswati Mukherjee
Inspirational stories from entrepreneurs and businessmen Patu Keswani, CMD of Lemon Tree Hotels Private Limited, Rahul Pandit (now Ginger Hotels), Vikram Oberoi (Oberoi Group of Hotels), Deep Kalra (MakeMyTrip) and Sharat Dhall (Yatra.com) turned Vishakha Talreja into an entrepreneur.
“I have been lucky that my career as a journalist gave me a chance to meet all these people from the travel and hospitality industry and learn from their journeys,” says Vishakha.
Vishakha Talreja was a business journalist whose beat was Hospitality and travel. Over the years as she interacted more and more with hoteliers, her desire to become an entrepreneur grew stronger.
Thus was born The Hotel Explorer, a hotel discovery platform that features curated reviews, hotel trends and deals.
The Hotel Explorer started out in August last year and has managed to introduce travellers to many boutique properties that Vishakha claims are ‘hidden gems’. And with alternate accommodation options increasingly becoming popular and travellers seeking experiential stays and properties like villas and homestays mushrooming, The Hotel Explorer is only hoping to grow.
Though we don’t see deals directly, we have travel partners who help people in booking. We inspire and inform travelers and act as a hotel guide with content that is informative and entertaining. Essentially, we are a third party whose expert opinion is being relied upon by many travelers,
says Vishakha, Founder and Editor of The Hotel Explorer.
The Economics graduate who turned entrepreneur
Vishakha is an Economics graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi. She has worked as a business reporter for various organizations including The Economic Times, Financial Express and the TV Today Group. She started her career as a Feature writer for The Economic Times in 2006. Her last job was at the New Indian Express till the end of 2013.
It was while working with Prabhu Chawla at the New Indian Express that she developed the zeal to do something in the online space. “At his age, he was so passionate about leveraging technology and promoting matter through the social media that I was heavily influenced. Also I believed that I would not be working as a journalist forever, so the thought of doing something creative using the online platform to my best advantage, struck me and I took the plunge,” says Vishakha.
An avid traveller and a self-confessed spa and social media junkie, Vishakha loves tweeting a lot about travel and entrepreneurship on her personal handle too.
Fascinated with Rahul Yadav’s story
Vishakha finds Rahul Yadav’s (the Founder and CEO of Housing.com) story very fascinating. “I am amazed at the way he went on to build something so huge, then destroyed all of it himself. He is more like a case study in entrepreneurship for me, I find the whole concept of entrepreneurship very compelling.”
There is one thing which irks her a lot, though. She has often interacted with people who have preconceived notions about women entrepreneurs.
I feel there exists a glass ceiling and people tend to easily get into the personal details of a woman entrepreneur,
says Vishakha. Questions like, ‘are you the lead breadwinner of your family’, ‘are you married’,’ what does your husband do’ etc are something she rather wishes no one asks her. If a man talks business, he is taken on face value but people still have doubts and are curious about women entrepreneurs in India, says Vishakha.
Role models are in the family
Vishakha’s father is a businessman who she considers more of a self-made man. Though he has a traditional business of timber and plywood, he has built all of it himself. Vishakha’s in-laws work in the government and they too support her completely.
Vishakha’s husband, Rajat Guha, too inspires her. He turned entrepreneur just six months prior to her joining the entrepreneurs’ bandwagon and she says he is the one who encouraged her to take the plunge. “He firmly believes in my independent identity and is happy to see me grow as an entrepreneur,” says Vishakha.
Encouraged by all the support at home, Vishakha has lined up a host of innovations at her venture, all of which she hopes to roll out in the coming days.