Unable to get a loan, this woman entrepreneur sold her gold for Rs 4 lakh to start an award-winning counselling company
Manisha Bhati, Co-founder, Dreamhunt India
When Pune-based Manisha Bhati was working in Deutsche Bank, she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Her background in teaching had helped her understand that people of all ages were lacking soft skills.
“I saw there wasn’t a platform where people could address these issues in a personal way,” she says. So, she wanted to start a counselling and development company to help people with career counselling, personal and professional development.
But things did not come easy when she decided to start her own business.
“My financial background was such that I did not have a large amount which I could invest in the business. I was unable to get a loan,” she says.
Manisha also had an ageing father who she didn’t want to burden by asking for money. But her dream required funding.
One day, she decided she would sell off her jewellery to fund the business. Though it was a tough decision, it was one which bore fruit. She was able to raise Rs 4 lakh by selling her gold.
She also met her business partner Shridhar Waghmare at Deutsche Bank. "We realised we shared a goal to boost the personal and professional skills of individuals,” she says.
And this was enough to start a counselling and development enterprise named Dreamhunt India in 2017.
A special model
Perhaps the name ‘Dreamhunt’ wasn’t restricted to her future clients who came to develop their skills in order to hunt their dreams. The brand name itself symbolised, in some sense, Manisha selling her gold and starting her own hunt towards the dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
And success has certainly come through Dreamhunt's unique model.
A Brands of India Awards winner in the Education category, Dreamhunt does one-on-one counselling and development sessions where they go with clients for movies, walks, and other fun activities.
And this is not limited to youngsters; clients range all the way from 15 to over 40 years old. According to Shridhar, spending time together helps build a personal connect.
“By engaging with clients outside the traditional counselling environment, we build a unique and strong relationship,” he says, “and this helps clients gain trust in us. This is critical to success in our one-on-one counselling and development courses.”
Ahead of the curve
Dreamhunt stands out from other counselling and development enterprises. Shridhar had thought of the model when he was studying the competition prior to Dreamhunt’s 2017 launch. At that time, he had seen that group sessions were common.
He says, “I saw a large difference between personal and group coaching. When organisations try to help people in a group, it is challenging to build a personal connect with them. So, we decided to have a model where we constantly stayed in touch with our clients on a one-on-one level.”
Dreamhunt co-founders Shridhar Waghmare (left) and Manisha Bhati (right)
It probably takes a while getting used to going to the movies with your personal development counsellor. However, there are regular sessions in traditional counselling environments too. For each of these sessions, Dreamhunt charges clients between Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,500.
The business recommends that each person take at least 12-15 sessions. This works out to over Rs 24,000, and in some cases, touches Rs 40,000, the entrepreneurs say.
But group models are more lucrative for any business. Shridhar personally handles most of the one-on-one sessions, while Manisha focusses on group counselling and development workshops.
Manisha says a major reason for doing counselling and development for groups is that existing government models are not up to the mark.
“I have sat in many government-driven skill workshops but the standard has been low. Trainers are often not certified and are underqualified. This results in a negative outcome for the attendees,” she says.
Manisha and Shridhar do not worry about anybody questioning their qualifications in this way. Armed with certification from the International Coach Federation, the duo say they are well-equipped to generate value and results for their clients.
They charge around Rs 4,000 per person for two-day counselling and development workshops. “Our rates are lower than other companies which charge up to Rs 15,000 for a similar two-day workshop,” Manisha says.
Manisha and Shridhar with Giriraj Singh (second from left), Union Minister of State, MSME; Ram Mohan Mishra (left), AS and DC, MSME; and Shradha Sharma (right), Founder and CEO, YourStory
Dreamhunt goes to schools, colleges and offices to conduct these workshops. “We usually go to places around Pune and nearby cities. So far, we have conducted workshops in several schools in Pune including, St Patricks, Rims International, St. Helena’s,” she says.
Additionally, Dreamhunt has conducted counselling and development workshops in colleges such as DY Patil Engineering College, Bharti Vidya College, and Vidya Bhavan College of Commerce. Its list of corporate clients includes B2B inDemand, Dreamhouse Entertainment, Yatri Tours and Travels, Mantra Group, and more.
Following this model of one-on-one sessions and group workshops, Dreamhunt has made Rs 20 lakhs in under two years.
With these revenues ploughed back in to the business, Dreamhunt hasn’t raised investments yet. Shridhar says, “We are looking for potential investors since we wish to scale up soon. Our upgraded startup plan will be very scalable and have the potential to increase our revenue ten-fold. Right now, we have 10 employees -two full time, which are Manisha and I, and eight freelancers.”
To land more clients across the country, Dreamhunt is also marketing itself on social media platforms- Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It is also on UrbanPro, Justdial and Sulekha.
In its hometown of Pune, it has received a ‘Best Training Institute’ award from WOW (Winners of Worthiness) publications. Dreamhunt also has a women empowerment course, for which it was recognised as a contributor to the movement by Lady Zubeida English Medium School.