Rohit Saraogi, founder of VirtuLab tells us about virtual showrooms.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rohit Saraogi: The year has been a roller coaster ride! Covid started out with a forced, yet fun stay-at-home holiday with family, but things quickly got grim & serious. We had our share of Covid in the family but thankfully all recovered well. Now it seems the worst is over & we are feeling optimistic now. The speedy rollout of vaccines & business recovery signals makes us feel positive & forward-looking.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded VirtuLab.
Rohit Saraogi: My first venture Design Desk was founded in 2005 with my partner & brother Amit Saraogi. It grew very well into one of India’s leading Exhibition Designer until Covid disrupted the entire exhibition & event industry.
The new venture VirtuLab is now born out of Covid. One month into Covid, it was clear that the physical Exhibitions & Events business will not see a revival any time soon. Thankfully, we quickly put aside all unrealistic optimism & accepted this fact. Then we started focusing on how we could use our existing strength of 3D design & being in Marketing Services. Thus, the idea of VirtuLab & Virtual Showrooms was conceived. This category of Virtual Showrooms, Virtual Events & Web VR was perhaps out of mainstream marketing activities and has seen a remarkably steep growth curve in the last 12months.
How does VirtuLab innovate?
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Rohit Saraogi: The pandemic has refocused our business & financial analysis. We are now looking at operational & cost efficiency with far greater attention than before. The age-old saying “A penny saved, is a penny earned” is part of the thought process before every expense. At the same time, we feel a greater responsibility to build a stable business that can support ourselves & our team in such unexpected scenarios. I think this is a healthy & valuable approach even in the long run.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Rohit Saraogi: Yes, we had to make a very significant reduction in our team strength during this period.
This was a very tough decision. However, we tried to be very transparent with our exit team as well as the remaining team & I believe that really helped in a smooth process. I think being communicative & transparent with the team is really important. It builds empathy & faith which are very vital to a good culture.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Rohit Saraogi: We’ve been working remotely for 11 months, and it’s the first time this has happened. We are using tools like Slack, Zoom, Dropbox to collaborate efficiently. It’s amazing that so much has been achieved through remote working, which just wasn’t even an option to consider before Covid!
Your final thoughts?
Rohit Saraogi: Covid put us in front of a totally unexpected situation – an apt example that life is extremely unpredictable. I am glad that we were not unrealistically optimistic or hopelessly pessimistic. The willingness to accept reality and the attitude to adapt to the situation has been key to survival & revival. This middle path of realism coupled with grit & resilience is a successful mantra in my understanding.
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