Ankit Bhargava is one of the first web developer in Udaipur. He is young, enthusiastic and the most successful self made entrepreneurs I have ever met. He is very well known for his booming online business organization “Regal-Weddings” which is well known as regal-weddings.com a destination wedding planner. Ankit also owns other online portals like travelconnect.in an online community for Indian Travel Industry and travelmadeeasy.in Ankit’s remarkable work made regal-wedding is an unbeaten company in Udaipur and well renowned in world. Because of Ankit’s dedication, regal-wedding.com is featured in many international magazines and newspapers like North America’s Best Bridal Magazine Kismet, Famous Asian Magazine Wedding Affair and many more. I met Ankit 2 weeks before and certainly caught up by his hospitality, simplicity and down to earth nature. I am sure you will feel same when you will read this interview with Ankit Bhargava. Ankit Please tell us about yourself. Your schooling, qualifications both academically and professionally, your family background etc. My schooling was such a varied experience from Central Academy to Saint Paul’s to Kendriya Vidhayalaya and a few in between. I completed my B.COM from Sukhadia University followed my M.B.A from Pacific Institute of Management. My father is retired from Rajasthan College of Agriculture and mother has been housewife. Elder Sister is married and she used to be a Lecturer at Guru Nanak Girls College before marriage and I myself am married to a Doctor wife. How the idea of Regal-weddings.com came in your mind? Is there is anything interesting you would like to tell about the journey of regal-weddings.com? I started my websites development business almost 10 years back when Internet had just started penetrating in India. At that time any online business was just a dream because of logistics and lack of internet education. I did not find web development to be much interesting and I decided to rather have my own Portal and experiment with it. My first website was a Travel Portal for Udaipur which gave me a good platform to not only take care of my passion for Internet but also earn some money. Then I started an online Travel Company called “Travel made Easy” and under its banner my small Team developed Rajasthan’s first Travel Portal with capability of online hotel reservations, 360 Virtual Tours, comprehensive reviews of destinations etc. Vishv Vijae, who had been working with HRH Hotels joined in as business partner and his business skills worked a charm. With an eye to extend the Travel domain, I had been looking for some completely new ideas which haven’t been tried earlier. I stumbled over the concept of a “Destination Wedding”, where the Bride, Groom and Guests elope to an exotic place to celebrate wedding festivities and at the same time have their holidays. It was happening in Caribbean, Hawaii, Fiji, Spain etc. The concept caught me! After a few days research over internet I realized that India stands nowhere on Destination Weddings map and I decided to form the company “Regal Weddings Pvt Ltd” which shall focus on popularizing Palace Weddings in Rajasthan and Beach Weddings in Goa. We tied up with several Palaces and hunted suitable locations in Goa. Since the concept was really new to everyone (it’s been 8 years now), it took a lot to workout in terms of conceptualizing the whole business. This business also had its online marketing base to reach the target audience extensively. We got our first wedding couple confirmed their wedding with us in Goa after a year’s effort. With that we did another 8 weddings in same year which were small sized but a great learning experience. Then every year we were spending 6 good months in planning the wedding of our overseas Clients between April to September and next 6 months in executing them. Over past 8 years Regal Weddings has organized more than 250 successful Weddings leaving a memorable moment for everyone who was a part of festivity. Today at Regal Weddings we not only deal with few selected couples every year but every day we are helping several overseas couples to explore their dream of exotic Wedding in India. Tell us about your first experience of planning a wedding? How was it and who were your clients? The first couple was from Australia and interestingly both the Bride and Groom was magician by profession. We chose a hilltop at Palolem Beach in Goa for them to get them married with a beautiful scenic view of Arabian Sea at backdrop. They were just 2 in their wedding (I had hard time digesting that they had no plan of inviting guests to their wedding) and we all had memorable day. Had real hard time building the trust in Couple that it’s possible in India and then though its first time for us, we can confidently do it. You are the first person in Udaipur who took initiative in starting a very new business concept. How was the reaction of your friends, family and people who know you? I was already been reacted by comments like “internet business is bust”, “no one earns online” etc kind of comments from everyone and especially when I had just started Travel made Easy. However it was almost a year after which I ventured in Regal Weddings. Since Travel made Easy saw a success within few months, everyone had a high hope with Regal Weddings too. However we all had no clue where it would land. My family, friends and everyone had a faith in whatever I am doing and by their support and best wishes only I finally succeeded. Apart from planning weddings, what are the other services your company provides? Regal Weddings is just into this very niche business of “Destination Wedding planning and coordination” targeting the overseas couples. Though as a services provider we help couples and their families in even organizing the international & domestic flights, Hotel reservations, ground transportation and every other aspect of the event as whole. You are active on web and IT since last 10 years; do you see Udaipur as next favorite IT destination of Rajasthan? If not, why? Yes I definitely foresee Udaipur as upcoming IT hub in coming 2 years. We already see a lot of international IT services being delivered from Udaipur may it be simple BPO/KPO/Call Center or proper software development. We have a huge pool of IT talent in Udaipur which also prefers to stay back in town and earn their living. However I sincerely feel that lack of exposure and training is restricting the growth. Trained people find their out of Udaipur and we do not have Trainers within companies to help the beginners. “If you want to make career, leave Udaipur and settle down in metro cities”. This is a common phenomenon among young professionals and students in Udaipur. Do you agree with it? This has been a misconception with every 3 tier city and small towns. I do not completely disagree with the statement since its been proved that the larger metro Cities offer more exposure not only in terms of career and earnings but also making you street smart. At the same time, if you are determined and know how to use the available resources.. your location can not restrict your growth. We are living in Web 2.0 world where every information travels across the globe in seconds so there is no dearth of information to grow your aptitude. We surely look for Infrastructural development in Udaipur to cater to larger growth and better business opportunities. If I ask you to mention top 5 points to become successful entrepreneur what it could be? 1. Determination 2. Planning 3. Passion 4. Learn from experience 5. Resourcefulness How many weddings you’ve planned till now? Would you like to name the one which was most memorable? So far Regal Weddings has planned and coordinated over 250 Weddings. Since we want to give good attention to every couple we do not take up more than 30-35 weddings every year. Honestly, every wedding is so unique and memorable that it’s really difficult to name one. However there was a wedding on 24th Feb 2008 for a UK born Gujarati Couple which was really challenging. We had to stick to a timeline where every 2-3 minutes we had a task to follow like Guests will arrive in Lobby at 5.05 PM, they will walk to the procession point at 5.12 PM and so on and couple was really keen to follow every minute of instruction. Finally we were able to stick to the schedule given to us but Couple had hard time in following their own timeline. At the end of the day their appreciation of efforts we put in 10 months of planning and 3 days of execution eased out all the stress. There are many start-ups and new business concepts are emerging in Udaipur. How do you see Udaipur in next 5-10 years? Yes it’s exciting to see that the young generation is keen towards entrepreneurship and likes to take challenges. I see Udaipur to come out of the “Marble, handicrafts and Tourism” picture and pursue growth in IT and services sector. There shall be an IT and Engineers breed who has already spent 10-15 years of their life out of Udaipur building up their career who would like to come back Udaipur and have their service or business here. This can bring in a thrust and experience. Ankit, how many hours you work every day? Do you get time to relax? If yes what you like to do in free time? It’s been almost 10 years I have to shell out 12-14 hours of work daily to sustain the growth ad at the same time keep myself updated. Regal Weddings and wedding planner as a profession gives a wonderful chance to work and relax during the event. So every time I fly to Goa for Wedding I stay 2 extra days and relax. I love to spend time with family and parents too during weekends. Who is your idol? Why? My elder brother Saurabh has always been an inspiration to me since long. He is no more with us now but he implanted some ethics and principals into me which I always follow and it has helped in every walk of life. Any message you would like to convey to our readers? I am personally very upset with the traffic sense we all have in Udaipur and find driving a real pain every day. I just want to say every one “Please drive carefully if not for others than atleast for your own life and safety”. Thank you for your time and in making this interview successful. Thank you Zaheer for giving this opportunity to get connected with you and Udaipurites. I wish all the success to Udaipurtimes!