‘The finest of ethically produced natural materials at honest & competitive prices’ – that is a promise asserted by Moksha Lifestyle Products, a thriving pharmaceutical and cosmetic supplies company and that is exactly what it delivers.
The company extends it specialization to products like essential oils, carrier oils, extracts, hydrosols, clay/wax, fragrance oils along with a home wellness and spa exotica store which attracts buyers from across the world. Moksha also lends its OEM supplies, DPD services, Consultancy services to other companies while custom training candidates in various profiles such as spa professionals, cosmeticians, masseurs and aroma therapists. Established by the quintessential Ashish Khandelwal in 2005, the company has branched out all across the world while still striving to attain greater heights. eBrandz catches up with Ashish Khandelwal to draw from him some magnanimous insights on his niche as the CEO of Moksha.

ashish-khandelwal

Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Moksha Lifestyle Products is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of Natural Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, Herbal Extracts, Phytochemicals and other natural materials presently supplying to the Pharmaceutical, Cosmetics, Food & Beverage, Fragrance & Flavor industries. Present through local offices and/or agents in India, Austria, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ukraine and Slovenia, we are one of the youngest and fastest growing firms in this field.
We enjoy the best combination of youth and experience through our Board of Directors and the Executive Team. We can proudly say that no one else in the industry has a knowledge-base of over 100 years of experience in the agricultural and herbal fields.
We are presently on a massive expansion spree and hope to expand to all 7 continents through local offices and/or agents by 2012.

Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
I did my Electronics Science from Delhi University along with a minor in Chemistry. I have always had an inclination towards the sciences and this was the natural route for me. Thereafter I figured I needed some background in Business Education, since I belonged to a Family Business, and I wanted to bring in new ideas to it. Hence I pursued a Master’s in Business Economics (MBE) from the Department of Business Economics, Delhi University – South Campus, which opened a whole new world of Economic Theory and different Financial Aspects of Business. Once I started the course, I was hooked! I figured then that my path in life was not to just join the family business, it was to infuse new ideas, a new and innovative business model to it and to take it places. I realized the importance of the emergence of a global market and how companies will need to adapt and accept different local concepts and ideas into their culture. We needed a flexible, interactive and ever-changing business model. This was the moment that I conceived what I can say the first business model which later laid the foundation for Moksha.

During my course tenure, I was actively involved with extracurricular activities and was chosen as the President for my college. This was a period when I learnt to take up and actively enjoy responsibility. It felt good to lead, to take care of something, to bring it up, to see things take shape and the ultimate success. I found some of my best friends during this time, learnt many different things about people, how to handle ups and downs in life, how to have a positive attitude. My people skills were honed at this period of my life.
It was also during this period that I had the chance to interact in person with such luminaries as Mr Damodaran (Ex-SEBI Chief) and Mr Dinesh Singh (Presently Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University). I remember it was Mr Singh who, during our discussion, emphasized the need for entrepreneurial incentive and drive, and encourage me to follow my dreams. I still thank him for my present position and the words of encouragement he said to me.

The actual idea for this business model was conceived during my internship in Linz, Austria, where during my 3 month stay, I met Franz Shceiblhofer (who is now my Austrian Partner and taking care of our interests in Austria and Germany). Franz was already working in the alternative therapy and herbal medicine field and supplying to various pharmacies in Austria. We met at the company where I interned and I suggested to him that he should look at India as a source for some of his raw materials since that is the birthplace of Ayurveda! We then decided that I was to look around, use some of my family contacts in the agricultural line and send him a list of products which could be good for his European customers. So, in short, I already had customers lined up for me from the beginning. The only thing left now was to set up an efficient supply chain and focus on quality control. Slowly but surely things fell into place, and now here we are!

How important have good employees been to your success?
Good employees are the biggest asset a company has. A good knowledge base, the drive to learn, loyalty and determination in employees are the pre-requisites for success.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

  1. Never let peer pressure govern your life-decisions and never, ever, let criticism dampen your enthusiasm
  2. With any business-model, check, double-check and triple check the same and always take a second opinion from a neutral person. While in college, you have plenty of access to the best minds in the industry and don’t hesitate to use that. Go to your professors, talk to your peers, take advice and feedback from anyone and everyone. Learn as much as you can.
  3. The most important thing to remember is that when you are in college, you can take risks. You have a much higher risk-aversion than others because, honestly, you have nothing to lose. No responsibilities, no pressure. Use this time, do not waste it, to create a set of skills that will help you in the battlefield which is to greet you soon.

If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
There is little, if anything, that I would do differently.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Risk-taking, Foresight and People skills

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
You should know when to hold and when to fold. I always set up a time-line, albeit a liberal one for any new idea, wherein I expect to see results. If it doesn’t work by then, it is better to fold.

How many hours do you work a day on average?
As an entrepreneur, there are no fixed work timings especially when you have a global market. I sometimes work 14 hours, sometimes not at all. Sometimes I’m up on call till 3 in the morning; sometimes I sleep early to attend a conference-call at 5AM. So you really have to take it on a day-to-day basis, but that is also what makes it so exciting!

How do you define success?
I look at success one day at a time. I feel that if at the end of the day, I can sit back, relax and be happy at a day well spent, then I have achieved success on that particular day. Success should be looked at one day at a time. Slowly and steadily.
How do you build a successful customer base?

A successful customer base depends on just three things – Quality, Efficiency and Service. Good quality products, delivered on time and backed up with timely service/after-sales follow-up has helped us build and maintain a successful customer base.

If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ayn Rand. I would like to understand her way of thinking, share ideas with her, essentially, just brain-storm with what I believe one of the greatest advocate of capitalism and industrial freedom of the past century!

What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favorite book?)
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Drive. And by that I mean, a drive to achieve success even when there is no one on top of them, no one pressurizing them, no deadlines set by upper management, nothing as such. Entrepreneurs are people who need to have their own drive. They are their own bosses, and they need to push themselves forward to achieve success. And this needs to come from within. Without this, they cannot hope to achieve success. Employees, on the other hand, are driven to work due to deadlines and due to the fact that they are answerable to someone on top. There is more of a survival attitude in the latter category.

What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
My organization follows a very flat structure. The reason that I have chosen such is because I want every employee to feel part of this company. To feel as an entrepreneur themselves. They are responsible for a part of the firm and the company’s success results in theirs. This is the general attitude that I have strived to imbibe in my employees.

In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Dynamic

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I like to hit the gym regularly. Physical fitness plays a major role in my life.
Then I am a big gaming-freak. I spend hours at end on my Playstation 3 with my younger brothers (I have four) and life at home is always fun when you have so many brothers around.

What makes you happy?
Family, a successful day, playing with my pet dog… I hope I’m not missing anything.