With determination and grit, this woman entrepreneur scaled her family’s relocation business from Rs 3Cr to Rs 75Cr revenue
Aakanksha Bhargava is one among the increasing number of women forging their family business to success. The CEO of Gurugram-based PM Relocations operates on both B2C and B2B models with a clientele of over 500 MNCs.
For nearly a decade and a half, Aakanksha Bhargava has been leading Gurugram-based PM Relocations — a packers and movers company that was started by her father in 1986. Then came COVID-19, and the second-generation entrepreneur suddenly found herself operating in a not-so-relevant industry.
“Suddenly, nobody was moving homes, and nobody would in such times, but we had to stay relevant. We pivoted our business model from packing, moving, and relocating homes to moving office facilities like laptop and desktop to home,” she tells HerStory.
Aakanksha says operating in today’s business environment has more challenges as well as opportunities compared to a decade or so ago. She says it is pertinent to stay relevant in terms of product building, marketing, and operations, regardless of the industry you work in.
As the only child in her family, Aakanksha was the natural heir to the business and was keen on taking part in the business at a young age.
After completing MBA from SP Jain School of Global Management in 2007, she decided to see if she enjoys working in her family business for six months. But “One month into it, and I knew I wanted to do this all my life,” she shares.
That is when Aakanksha, then 21-year-old, began learning all aspects of the business — from working as a customer service executive to understanding import and export shipment.
Between 2007 and 2012, when she took on the role of the CEO of PM Relocations, Aakanksha started working with team members across cities to see business operations in different locations.
She stayed in Bengaluru for a year, followed by six months in Hyderabad, and a year each in Mumbai and Pune.
“We had a small office in Bengaluru, and I got the opportunity to do things from scratch by onboarding suppliers, new clients, and expanding the team,” she says.
The small business her father started with Rs 7,000 — her mother’s savings from working as a teacher — was clocking Rs 3 crore revenue in 2007.
Under Aakanksha’s leadership, the company’s presence increased from just three cities to 13 cities in India. In fact, the business also expanded to offer international relocation services in the US and Singapore. It eventually diversified into fine art moving and pet moving as well.
Operating on a dual model of B2C and B2B, PM Relocations offers packing, moving, and relocation service, inclusive of immigration orientation, and has served over 500 global MNCs.
The business closed its last financial year, clocking a revenue of Rs 75 crore. In FY 2021-22, it is targeting to hit Rs 100 crore revenue.
However, Aakanksha considers not having to lay off any of her 600-member team during the pandemic among her biggest milestones. After all, she says, they are the ones who have stuck with her leadership through thick and thin and inspire her as a leader.
“One can always draw inspiration from the extremely successful icons, but there are also those trying to earn that Rs 6,000 per month to pay for their child's education. These people in my team are my real inspiration,” she proudly says.
For Aakanksha, it is a matter of satisfaction that one of her truck driver's daughters has joined the office as a receptionist. “There is nothing better than giving the next generation a better chance, especially those who work hard at making ends meet,” she adds.
Breaking into a man’s world
Despite having earned her way to the top leadership, Aakanksha has faced a fair share of challenges and bias as a woman in the male-dominated movers and packers sector.
“More than a decade back, when I used to go for meetings, people would ask if I am sure of not being accompanied by someone to carry out certain tasks. When you are a young girl trying to do something unconventional, there are always eyeballs attracted to you. I used to be the only girl alone in a lot of meeting rooms,” she shares.
More than once, she had faced questions regarding her marriage, motherhood, and if she would continue her work at the company, only to make her more resolute in carrying on the work.
All along, Aakanksha’s mantra has been believing in herself and proving that she is right where she belongs.
Moving ahead, the entrepreneur hopes to launch an app to make its services more accessible and focus on expanding its art-moving service globally.
Edited by Suman Singh