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Indrani Chakraborty had a dream of entertaining friends and weary travellers and that is how Svanir Wilderness Ecostay was born!
Excerpts from an interview with Indrani Chakraborty, founder of Svanir Wilderness Ecostay. Indrani Chakraborty and her husband Soumya Mukherji want to revive the concept of ‘slow travel’, where travellers can reconnect with one another as well as nature.
When did you start Svanir Wilderness Ecostay and what was the intention?
In the words of Indrani Chakraborty, founder of Svanir Wilderness Ecostay-
I started my company in August 2019. I and my husband decided to leave our stressful jobs to pursue a common dream of building something we could call our own while living a peaceful life close to nature. That was the spark for Svanir, which means ‘Own Home.’
Ultimately, we want to revive the concept of ‘slow travel’ where travellers can reconnect with one another as well as nature.
Odisha’s huge tourism potential has always remained untapped because of poor infrastructure. We want our homestay to be a cost-effective model which can be replicated near other places of interest like forests, temples, historical monuments and beaches.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in starting the company?
Being one of the first ‘real’ Homestays in Bhubaneshwar, it was and still is very difficult for us to make people understand the difference between a homestay and a hotel. So, we had to say NO to many travellers (even when we were going through a lean patch) when we sensed they were looking for a sprawling resort, 5-star amenities and 24 hours room service.
What is the biggest mistake you made while starting your company in the initial few years?
I tried recruiting staff from other parts of Odisha who were only looking at this in monetary terms and had no connection to this place. I would train then and they would jump ship.
I soon realised we should involve the local community to build a win-win relationship as they had deep routes here and we’re eager to supplement their meagre incomes.
Now I can proudly say this is a women-led homestay where I support six families from the village whom we share an address with.
If there was one thing you could advise to a budding woman entrepreneur, what would it be?
Don’t lose hope. When one avenue closes, a better one will soon open if you persevere. Also, don’t become rigid. Be open to trying out new ideas.
(Women’s Web, in collaboration with HEN India, will present a series of interviews with women entrepreneurs. ‘HEN- Her Entrepreneurial Network’ is a community of Indian Women Entrepreneurs, connected by a vision to inspire, inform and support each other.)
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