Ms. Manjali Khosla, The CEO of Self Storage India, shared the journey of her innovative storage solutions with The Global Hues.
An independent, self-assertive, passionate, and driven entrepreneur, Ms. Manjali Khosla started her journey when the realization struck her about the problem of finding a safe place to store her goods. After spending most of her life overseas, where self-storage solutions are commonplace, it was a strange realization for Manjali. Soon, she analyzed the market dynamics and came to an understanding that many people face similar issues finding self-storage options. This encouraged her to think about her problem as a business opportunity. After finding no practical solution in the market, she decided to change this situation by stepping in the entrepreneurial shoes.
Being the first entrant, Manjali decided to start small, give a competitive price point, and create a facility that would provide people with security and confidence. She faced many challenges as she couldn’t find trained employees, wasn’t familiar with digital marketing or local laws. She looked for assistance in her contacts and got in touch with a lawyer and potential employee. Since then, Manjali is putting her diligent efforts into building a strong team of employees and vendors. A scientist by education, She believes in systems and processes, experimentation, and trial/error. Slowly but surely, she overcame all the initial issues, and business started to develop into a rising graph. “I learned that I could not do everything myself and learned to delegate effectively. My commitment is to keep on learning and keeping abreast with the latest innovations in my field,” says Manjali.
Storage Solutions Made Easy
As the company name suggests, Self Storage India is a Warehouse that offers storage facilities for both household and business needs. They offer private rooms of varying sizes to suit everyone’s needs with a vision to improve people’s quality of work and home life by providing options of moving unwanted / lesser used goods into private storage rooms and easy access to them as per convenience. Khosla believes that they have built a trusted brand name and a set of clients who continuously support the company in the marketplace. “Much of our business arrives through referrals and word of mouth, with people directly landing on our website. This trust has been achieved over seven years of service to clients and by effectively protecting their belongings,” explains Manjali. “Beyond that, we have a focussed and clear value proposition in an often confusing marketplace. We simply offer people the ability to have their room, to which they possess the key, in high quality, clean, pest controlled, 24/7 surveilled, insured, and flood mitigated facility,” she further added.
Challenges faced by women entrepreneurs
In Manjali’s opinion, the first challenge is to balance family life. Traditional gender roles and societal pressure are still prevalent in India, even though the number of women entrepreneurs has increased. Further, many men find it challenging to work under women and love to patronize them. Warehousing is a male-dominated industry and is perceived as a man’s job. While Indian women have made their mark in industries such as aviation and hotel management, societal discrimination still prevails. “For many years, I was not taken seriously. Construction contractors told me I did not understand construction; software engineers told me I did not understand the software and would not take me seriously. In some instances, I was even told that the venture was not a good model, no one would want our services, I would fail and never scale-up, and it would be better to take care of my kids and stay at home,” said Manjali.
She believes there are not enough women-oriented networking opportunities during business hours. “In places like New York, there are breakfast and lunch-based networking events; I wish to have those in Delhi. Late evening events, weekend events are not well suited for women with familial responsibilities. Lastly, these networking venues should be cost-effective so that those who are starting are not excluded,” expressed Manjali.
Word of advice to overcome Challenges
- If you are a married woman, seek help from your husband, friends, and family and maybe even find a way to share similar duties with other parents.
- Additionally, find ways to seek help in your friends and family network to cope with your daily burdens.
- Be highly scheduled – make a schedule and follow it diligently. Time is not only money; it is peace of mind – without a schedule, you will lose both.
- Have a clear vision and a well-thought plan for your business and how you wish to succeed in your new venture
- Try to find a female mentor who may have trodden down the path on which you are about to embark; her learnings may save you valuable time and energy if possible.
The authority to call your own! Freedom to choose work timings is a motivating force for Manjali. Watching the company’s success is a bonus.
Self-Storage India caters to clients who have unused or redundant personal goods that occupy their living spaces but aren’t to be discarded. Life events such as death, divorce, job relocation, etc., create a need to find self-storage space. Their clients usually care about the quality of life, want living spaces that are not cluttered, and don’t want to use high rental residential space for storage – they seek alternate locations where they may safely store their items.
The company ensures client’s unbreakable faith by being transparent with them contractually and by showing them the facility. The fair and reasonable approach in dealings, responsive customer service, and solving the client issue on a priority basis helps in building a good rapport. Self-Storage understands that sometimes clients might be storing things of sentimental value, so they strive to go the extra mile to ensure their integrity.
Daily Routine and Hobbies
Manjali starts her day with some household chores and taking care of her family. After breakfast, she begins work by preparing a schedule for the day. All meeting obligations and requests are already in her calendar. “I focus energy on understanding the data as I believe business should be data-driven. I schedule the breaks of my husband and kids into my calendar to be available to them,” explained Manjali.
Hobbies: Riding a bicycle, playing tennis, Work-out.
The company and Team Ethos
“Customer service is key, and the customer is king – I convey this to my team regularly to maintain the highest priority for our existing and incoming clients,” shared Manjali.
The company treats every customer with respect, ensures consistent service standards by enforcing standard operating procedures. The team continuously explores areas of work and contributes to new approaches, strategies, and ideas.
Views on overcoming Gender Inequality
As Oprah Winfrey stated, Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. It’s important to lead by example. Once you become an example of professionalism and excellence, many challenges will be mitigated – this is easy to do when you have a clear vision, are well prepared, and do your homework. Stick to your guns, and you will be able to succeed.
Awards and Milestones
- Expanded from mere proof of concept of 13 rooms to over 400 rooms in Q1 2021.
- Maintained an average occupancy level of over 90 percent over the life of the business.
Vision and Future Projects
Self Storage India has big plans for the future. After securing funding to expand the room inventory to 1000 rooms in 2021, a growth of more than 100% was seen. The company is planning to expand pan-India in 10 cities by 2025, with a total room inventory of 10,000 rooms.
Additionally, they have ambitions to become a publicly listed company to raise capital for 10x expansion. Manjali is currently working on developing the path to achieving this goal.
‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.
The book talks about making small improvements that add up over time to bring significant impacts.
Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.