Business Name: Lefarm
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 81
Shivani was working in aviation industry. After a brief stint at an airlines in Australia, she had to call it a day due to some medical reasons. At 23, Shivani was thrown away from the heights of dream to the depths of uncertainty. The only thing that consoled her was her strolls along her farm. The serenity it offered helped her calm down and forget the bitter episodes of life.
Her bond with farm grew stronger. She transformed the farm into a full-fledged homestay. She named it Lefarm. It’s an ideal getaway for those who would like to take a break from the routine hustle and bustle of city life. Spread over 15 acre land organic farm in Kamshet near Lonavala, it offers a break from the traditional and mundane hotels. Let’s learn more about Lefarm from Shivani.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
Long before homestays were famous in Maharashtra, Lefarm was conceived. While I was recuperating from my career setback at our land in Kamshet which was just an open land with 2000 mango and other assorted trees, I felt this exclusive farm experience should be able to give people a break from the regular hotels and get them one step closer to nature, yet let them have all the luxuries.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
This is a great time for this idea to exist as the hospitality industry is booming. People are looking for something different from the boring and the homestay/ alternative holiday home concept is booming in Maharashtra. It’s a great idea to turn that land parcel into a secondary source of income.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
They were very supportive, being from a traditional Maharashtrian family which has always believed in white collar risk free jobs, this move was much welcomed by my parents as my dad is so passionate about agriculture, he was thrilled with the idea of opening up the farm to people.
My husband Vinesh is my biggest support and backbone. Also gives me amazing marketing ideas.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
I don’t think there are mistakes, for me there have been some amazing learnings in this journey. I come from an aviation flying background with zero hospitality knowledge and each day is a new learning day on the job.
I have learnt there is not point saying I could have done this better or I should have its about what best I did at that time.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
In the hospitality industry service is the key. Our personal touch and customer experience is what sets us apart from other homestays. We are still a growing brand and each day we have to stay on top of our game to improve our service quality and experience.
They say you cant make everyone happy but we only believe at making our guests happy so that they come back to us again, of course every feedback or critique is taken positively and that is key to growth.
We are doing our best in overcoming skilled manpower issues and giving our guests the most value for money service. We aim to make Le Farm a one off luxury brand which can compete with the top most luxury hotels and are aiming to crack those niche markets as well.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
I am an early riser – just gives me the boost for the rest of the day. I always believe in taking out time for myself. Being recently married I do have responsibilities but ones personal growth should be of utmost importance as well.
Working out, dancing and painting are some of my closely guarded passions which help me break away from the constant.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently as I believe that what I have done is the best at this given point of time, I don’t believe in regrets or doing things differently. Probably I would have started it earlier like how other states have done and would have created awareness on this particular topic.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature, nature is very dynamic. Nothing is the same yet everything is the same. Don’t ask me why but I can spend hours staring at a tree. Every element of nature speaks to me, from air, water, fire, earth, sun, animals etc each and everything has taught me something different every day.
Just like a tree has its roots firmly planted inside, I too take my inspiration of firmly planting myself and the business with strong core values and the spreading the branches to learn and grow my capacity.
10) What is your favourite book?
Well there are so many as my father keeps gifting me more and more!
Currently reading How will you measure your life – James Allworth and Karen dillon
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Just start- don’t waste time if you don’t someone else will!
Have your basics in place. Research – assessment – roi but if you don’t jump in you will never know how exciting the sleepless nights are!
Shivani came back to life and set up her own homestay business, braving the depression caused by a setback in her career. She unlocked an opportunity in the growing hospitality sector of the country. But she never did in the usual way. Shivani was keen on giving an incredibly unique experience to the customers. That’s how her Le Farm stands out from the rest of the hotels and homestays.
Her entrepreneurial insights are quite impressive as she successfully cashed in on people’s quest for a unique stay, which is quite different from hotels and homestays. As a result, she could easily build a niche in alternative holiday home segment, which has now become booming sector in India.
So never topple over setbacks. Just find inspiration from within yourself and go ahead, tackling every hurdle. That’s the only way pursue your dreams.
You can follow Lefarm on Instagram now.