Khyati Bhatt (GMBA 2005) is currently the Founder and CEO at Simply Body Talk. We caught up with Khyati, an SPJ Superwoman, to learn about her journey till date and her plans for the future.
How did you get the idea for your business?
When I was ideating before starting Simply Body Talk, I wanted to set up a consultancy where the scope of business would not stay limited to any vertical or service. My style of thinking inspired me to go for something less popular, so that creating a niche would be easier. When I looked back on all those domains I had experience with, I realized all of them were saturated in Mumbai – finance, retail, branding. But there was one subject which had interested me immensely all along the way, body language. I had read about this subject while in my graduation class when there was ample time to dabble in reading books on random subjects. In fact, it dawned on me that I had practiced observing people along the way while I was at varying jobs. This gave me the confidence that if I took up body language, it would definitely be a niche in which I had first-hand experience. But it would come with a catch – I would have to exercise tremendous patience to make people aware that this field was not the same as what had been made popular by Image Consulting- it was much more detailed into people’s behaviour rather than grooming.
What was your mission at the outset? What challenges did you face in achieving this goal?
Initially, I had thought of focusing on body language, which involves understanding how people’s body signals indicate how they are thinking or feeling. Just when I had started, I called one of my SPJCM (currently SP Jain School of Global Management) Professors from retail to understand something which had fascinated me – how people’s behaviour in retail could predict whether they would buy or not. He guided me to some books, which made me realise just how wide the scope of nonverbal communication is. And that’s what became the mission for me – to help individuals and corporates focus on maximising nonverbal communication.
Challenges have been plenty, and they don’t stop at any milestone! First one was, and still is, creating a demand for our offerings since these are still not very recognized in India. I don’t want to limit my venture to focus only on services, which is why we are launching products – one at a time. It is one thing to ideate and launch, another to hire the right resources to take things forward for you. My day constantly keeps juggling between guiding the team to complete their task, planning forward, and creating content for our corporate workshops. Switching from one to the other can get quite challenging.
Starting a company from scratch and running it successfully are no easy tasks. What factors have helped you achieve this feat?
Well said! I was a one-person team for two odd years. I didn’t want undue pressure since my child was young, and I was learning the ropes of the subject. Unlike a product focused offering, my venture requires a lot of content creation, and unique content at that. I remember the first time I hired someone, it felt like a dream come true. Hiring people with an attitude that matches mine has helped me keep going even on the days when I feel burdened with work.
I also have a strong circle of family and friends – from diverse backgrounds. When I want an external opinion on something new I want to launch, they lend a fresh set of ideas and offer their honest opinion. Keeping in touch with ex-colleagues, friends, and teachers has helped me tremendously.
One of the biggest challenges any company faces is creating new leads. Most of our conversions have happened from the list of free subscribers we have built over time, be it for our personal offerings, open events, or corporate workshops. These subscribers are people who don’t need to be pitched to take up our services. They already have a look and feel of it every week, for free. It took me some trial and error to understand how to stay on top of mind-recall for an ever-growing list of people, and finally we found our golden goose!
Where do you aim to take your company 10 years from now?
There are a lot of launches piled up. We recently launched profile shoots for leaders; next are our e-commerce classes, retail space design, and then the book I am writing. Speaking of long term, my ideas are ambitious. As far as human behaviour is concerned, I wish to set up full-fledged psychophysiological labs where we can take up activities related to investigative journalism and predicting team behaviour. Since this requires a lot of research based activities, we plan to start this journey a year from now. I also want to expand the horizons of nonverbal communication to include not just body language but the rest of nonverbal experiences as well – like consumer behaviour in retail space and applications of colour and odour in consumer psychology. I hope to start lining this up soon.
What advice do you have to give to SP Jain current students aspiring to run a start-up?
Finding your calling or discovering what you can be the best at might take some time. But if you know that you want to be your own boss, and you are focused on it, you will make it someday. I have had my own set of experiments and trials at co-running an idea with someone else, but it didn’t work for me. Keep your eye on the bigger goal, but don’t forget to take a pause when you feel things are definitely not looking the way they should – rethink if you were going on the right path.
You need to exercise tremendous patience, be it when you want to find the right team member to join you, waiting for the right time or date to launch a new offering, or connecting with a potential lead. Things click only when they are done at the right time, and perseverance can be an asset if used at the right moment.