#Interviews

How Entrepreneur Devanshi Tripathi Is Bringing Her Own Seat In Hospitality Business

Devanshi Tripathi
When Devanshi Tripathi was scouting for properties for her first restaurant, she was often asked who the man in the business was. From gender discrimination to geographical restrictions, Tripathi faced several hindrances when she decided to launch her company TripGo Hospitality, also popularly known as Oyster.

Tripathi started her entrepreneurial journey in 2019 and when the pandemic happened the next year, she strategically adapted to the changes which kept her brand sailing through the difficult years. Tripathi, who was often asked by the naysayers who the final decision-maker in the company was considering she was female, is now the sole manager and operator of the brand, and she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

In an interview with SheThePeople, Devanshi Tripathi talks about the entrepreneurial challenges in the Food and Beverage industry, how women entrepreneurship changes the game with respect to gender equality in business, and what it takes to be a fierce leader in hospitality.

Devanshi Tripathi Interview

What led you to enter the business of hospitality? How did TripGo happen?

Being an entrepreneur had always been a dream, but there was uncertainty about how and where to begin. I began my career by working with various startups and developmental organisations. My journey began when I moved to Bengaluru and launched TripGo. Despite having no educational or familial hospitality background, the city’s incredible pub culture inspired me to consider starting a business in the F&B sector. Initially, efforts were concentrated on speaking with industry experts to gain a better understanding of the market landscape and restaurant management techniques. It took a lot of effort to get everything in place to start the business, the licenses, the permissions and the works.

“I had several fears about being able to set up and run the business successfully, but questioning my capabilities just because I am a woman, was never a hurdle in my head.”

What were the challenges you faced while entering the food and beverage industry?

Every little effort given to establish and sustain Oyster helped me grow as an entrepreneur. The biggest challenge was setting up a business in a place where you do not belong. From encountering gender discrimination to geographical restrictions to the world coming to a standstill during the pandemic, the journey in the F&B industry has been full of challenges and learning.

What were the challenges of breaking into an industry that, for a major part, had been male-dominated?

I am the sole manager and operator of the company. Yes, it was difficult initially; I remember getting asked who was in charge of the business.  They would ask me who would speak to the police and take care of legal things in the business. My journey as a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated F&B sector has not been easy. Despite this, I have been able to propel the company to new heights in the last three years and am optimistic about making a name for myself in the hospitality industry.

“I remember getting asked who the man in the business was when I was scouting for properties. Never considering me the owner, people would ask who the final decision maker was in the company.”

How did the pandemic impact not just the way hospitality functions but also the kind of decisions you took that kept the company sailing?

Despite having made provisions for unforeseen circumstances, the pandemic was an unprecedented period for all businesses, and was doubly hard for me, because it was my first time at a business. As a restaurant owner, I reduced excessive costs by optimising workflow, shutting down immediately and cutting off electricity, and making use of excess food supply by sharing it with employees who had no source of income. Making a runway for the next few months while also utilising my reserves judiciously, negotiating rentals and reducing costs, were extremely beneficial in sailing through the pandemic.

What are your biggest takeaways concerning what works and what doesn’t in the ever-evolving F&B industry?

The F&B industry has changed a lot over the last couple of decades, and it is an ever-evolving, growing industry that will keep changing even in the future. For example, one of the major changes that came after the pandemic hit was the dining experience where people became more conscious about cleanliness. Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene became the most important factor for the industry. Whether you are in a metro city or a two or three-tiered city, the three most important things for customers while dining is always food, service, and ambience. Maintaining standards across these three things is my biggest takeaway.

What I have also learnt is that marketing gimmicks don’t work for a long time. It’s a practice that attracts an audience maybe one or two times but is not sustainable. Practices such as huge discounting, events with celebrities, and freebies giveaways should be avoided unless you very strongly feel that they will add value to your business. This kind of activity might attract huge crowds initially, but how sustainable they are in the long run is highly questionable. Hence sticking to basics, keeping customers happy, constantly innovating to keep up with the market, and maintaining quality standards are the biggest learnings to keep the business growing.

“Every effort made to establish and sustain my company aided my growth as an entrepreneur over time.”


Suggested Reading: Distilling Indian-Made Vodka: How Varna Bhat Created A Space of Her Own


How are you planning to revolutionise the Indian market with your brand’s strategic growth?

We are already established in Bengaluru. I want to expand and open two or three more branches in different locations across the city. We’ve already expanded in the current location, where we added an extra floor to our restaurant so that the seating capacity increases from 150 to 250. Once I’ve established a stable brand with multiple units in the city, I wish to expand into cities like Goa and Pune. I intend to launch a new brand under TripGo, which will be something very different from what I’m pursuing presently. What and how is something which is still a work in progress. But from the top of my head it will be a premium gourmet cafe offering a variety of handcrafted coffees and another one would be a high-end, elite, premium bar catering to a niche segment that enjoys artisanal cocktails.

How do you think women’s entrepreneurship changes the game regarding gender equality in this sector of business?

Drawing from my experience, women entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector can lead to gender equality in several ways:
1. Representation: When women own and lead businesses in the hospitality sector, they serve as role models for other women and girls, which can inspire them to pursue careers in the industry.
2. Leadership: Women in leadership positions can promote diversity and inclusion within their companies, and advocate for these values within the industry as a whole.
3. Flexible work arrangements: Women entrepreneurs may be more likely to implement flexible work arrangements, such as part-time and remote work options, which can help to retain and attract female employees who may have caregiving responsibilities.
4. Employee development: They can invest in the development of their female employees, which can help to close the gender wage gap and increase the number of women in leadership roles.
5. Community impact: Women using their businesses to support the local community can empower local women through employment, education and mentorship.
6. Supply chain: They can ensure that their suppliers and vendors are diverse and inclusive, which can help to promote gender equality throughout the entire industry.
7. Innovation: Women can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the hospitality sector, which can help to drive innovation and growth in the industry.

What advice would you give to women pursuing entrepreneurship in hospitality?

My advice to young entrepreneurs is to be open to change, be agile, and take advice, especially from industry professionals whose mistakes you can learn from rather than repeat. Second, understand what the market requires and be ready to tweak your strategy to meet those requirements. You must modify your ideas and remain adaptable to changing market conditions. Finally, keep in mind that very few startups succeed, so take it one step at a time and listen to your mentors to achieve your goals.

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