While most entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners struggled to cope during the pandemic, there were also those who thrived and grew because they were much more willing and open to adapt to a changing world. Thanks in large part to their networks, they were able to adapt with the help of other businesses through knowledge-sharing and support.

In today’s podcast, I’m talking with Sridhar and Umesh, who started One Retail Connect during the lockdown, a networking platform where people working in retail have found a place to connect, exchange ideas, and most importantly, belong. If you are in the retail business or connected to retail, then this episode is for you.


Connect with Dhiren:


Episode Highlights:

09:52 What is networking and how is it related to retail businesses?
12:29 Changes in consumers’ shopping activity and behaviour
13:06 How the entire landscape of retail has changed
16:56 The rise of the omnichannel retail
20:58 How can networking help retail businesses?
22:34 What networking does and doesn’t do for you as an entrepreneur, business founder, or professional working in retail
24:20 What most people get wrong about networking
27:24 Two top tips for networking the right way
27:57 How and why the One Retail Connect networking event was born
34:29 Who should be interested in Retail one Connect?
38:41 What both have learned about networking from launching and running retail one connect
42:13 Umesh and Sridhar’s future plans for Retail One Connect
45:16 What makes for an elevated entrepreneur?


“Everything is going to stay, you will have physical retail, e-commerce also, and the other channels, that is why it’s called omnichannel. So as long as you are available at all points of time at all the channels and as long as you have the robust technology at your disposal where you are able to connect all these channels you will be successful.” – Umesh Agarwal

“Networking is the backbone of growth. Growth in life, growth in business. It is underestimated, most people don’t network ‘til they actually need it. I always compare it to fixing or building the roof of our room. Would anyone fix the roof of their home after it rains? No, they always keep checking it and fixing it frequently, constantly networking and building relationship and expanding your network, because we never know when a requirement may come up.” – Sridhar V.

What makes for an elevated entrepreneur? Having a mentor. – Umesh Agarwal


Thank you for listening! I hope you enjoyed this episode and I’d love to hear your feedback. You can email me at and help me improve or if you have someone in mind that would be a great guest on the show, feel free to recommend them via email.
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Thanks, and lots of love,

Dhiren Bhatia

Sridhar 0:01
Networking, I would say is the backbone of growth, growth in life, growth and business. When I met Umesh, we had a journey of about three months together in terms of various forums and associating. And knowing his retail expertise, I said, Okay, fine, why not we will start an industry-specific one. And the whole objective was to bring all the professionals related or connected with the retail industry and give them a platform where they can come and have a community. You feel that this is my community, these people speak my language. I feel like I belong here.

Dhiren 0:40
Hey, everybody, welcome to a brand new episode of the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. Today’s episode is a continuation of the retail entrepreneur series. However, we’re not interviewing a retailer, but two amazing people that have a lot of knowledge in retail, and networking. Now, you may be asking, What does retail and networking have in common? You’re going to want to tune in to this episode, because it’s a great episode that talks about the benefits of networking for retailers. If you know anybody who is in the retail business or is connected to the retail business, then this is an episode they need to listen to. So grab your headphones, grab a cup of coffee, help me cue the music. And let’s get started.

Intro 1:24
You’re listening to the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers, restaurant owners and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.

Dhiren 1:43
Umesh and Sridhar, very big welcome to the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you both here on the podcast.

Sridhar 1:51
Thank you, Dhiren. It’s our pleasure.

Umesh 1:54
Thank you Dhiren, for inviting us. It’s definitely a pleasure to be on your podcast.

Dhiren 1:58
Indeed. And the pleasure is all mine because both of you are amazing in what you do. And I’m so excited to have you both here. Because today, we’re going to talk about something that you guys have launched in the pandemic, and are doing so well with it’s called the Retail one Connect platform. And as you know, we’re running a Retail Entrepreneur Series here on the podcast. And I want to tell everybody about that platform and what it can do for them, and what are some of the benefits of attending that platform with you. But before we get into that, I’d love for you to please take a moment and introduce yourself, Umesh we’ll start with you.

Umesh 2:30
So I come from a retail background, right from 2003. That’s when I started my journey with the retail industry back in India, with Reliance Industries. This was merely to the rollout of the website outlets, which they were doing at that point of time. So I was working for them as rollout specialist, we did a lot of stores, I mean to be precise, 165 stores. And then it kept on going on for some time before I moved into Dubai in 2007 joining a landmark group as associate architect. And then again, the role remains same, but I looked at the rollout of some of the franchisee brands they had at that point of time, although landmark group itself had its own brands, but that was the only division where they had the franchisee international brands, which I was in charge to rollout across the GCC region. And the rest is history because since then, my main, Dubai, is my second home. And philosophy news, you could say that I have been working with different retailers and makeup, different capacities over the period you can say although I started as an architect and project manager, but then being in the industry for so long, I now can very well say that I have learned the tricks of the trade. So it is not only from the rollout perspective, it is also from the entire retail landscape and the thing what happens in the industry. So that’s what’s about me.

Dhiren 3:55
Thank you, Umesh, I know you’re being a bit modest. Knowing a bit about you. I know you’ve done a lot of work in retail, you’ve opened close to 600 stores. And I know that you’ve also got expertise in fitout design omni channel information. So there’s a lot of knowledge that I want to pick on as we get into the conversation. But I want to hand over the mic to Sridhar there for a few minutes to please tell us about yourself.

Sridhar 4:17
Came from middle class family where I was born and raised in Calcutta, my father was in the shipping industry, he was a shipping manager of one of the largest tea exporters in Calcutta. Although he wanted me to become a chartered accountant and when we moved to Delhi, I even pursued that for a year. Somehow I did not realize it or connect with it. So I jumped into this industry way back in 92. into the shipping and logistics industry, or at the very grassroot level of being a Customs House broker, clearing shipments and air freight and the secret in Delhi slowly grew up the ladder and moved to Dubai in 2001 when the calling came because some of my relatives were already here and I was just in the transmission of one engagement in the Delhi at the time, I looked at this opportunity and came here. And after working for a couple of renowned organizations here, and hitting their divisions for shipping, I decided to start something on my own in 2009. And after three years of a partnership venture, I fully ventured into my own in 2012, in Dubai. And it’s been a great journey, because 2014 had a huge debacle, I found myself in a debt trap. And it was a do or die kind of situation where then I worked really, really hard and bounce back, I would say, today, I live a debt free life. And I was successful logistics business going on. And at the same time, I discovered a passion for training coaching, speaking, in 2015-2016. And started pursuing that exploring that avenue, I’m happy to say that I am having more than a couple of businesses running successfully now both in terms of helping startup and two, three year old businesses scale up in their entrepreneurial journey, we got an entrepreneurial development program. Along with that, I have this shipping and logistics business, which is pretty much running on its own with the people in the processes having been set next place. So I may not be really in the retail space, except for as the consumer. So I bring that perspective to had, my own share of failures and successes, and a lot of experience, I can definitely share going forward.

Dhiren 6:34
Absolutely, that would be fantastic. And they say experience is the best teacher and I know you coach a lot of businesses, you’re part of the program, which I think is a topic for a different conversation. But I want to ask you guys, how the two of you meet.

Umesh 6:47
It was almost a year back, I would say we just completed our meeting anniversary, it was for a different reason. A common friend of ours has introduced three there to me, actually, I was sort of our College Alumni Network here. And we wanted that to be a part of one of the events which we were organizing. So one of my seniors who is a common friend of ours, he has introduced me that was as a networking expert, because the topic of the talk in that particular event was this only how to network more and more. So that’s how I got introduced at Toby precise. I mean, it was 28th of February, last year. So it’s been almost a year we got introduced to each other and rested.

Dhiren 7:28
Did you guys buy the flowers in a box of chocolate to celebrate the opportunity, a moment

Sridhar 7:34
We have made so many celebrations and based 12 months that we didn’t feel the need to do that formally. Actually, to be honest, we met at the same place when the year went by with the same person who introduced us, the three of us met and we had Chai, and we

Dhiren 7:53
Love it. Lots of fun friendships over Chai and snacks. Right?

Umesh 7:57

Dhiren 7:58
Amazing. Is this 2020 that you guys met in? So this is just probably before the pandemic had started.

Sridhar 8:05
So just to clarify, as Umesh said, we exactly met a year back and it was for a speaking engagement, which is always wanted us to me to be part of the alumni and give the speaking gig. But then when pandemic hit, the event got postponed. And so that didn’t happen. We didn’t move online immediately because people were like kind of in a daze as to what’s happening.

Dhiren 8:26
Everyone was just gonna say what the heck happened?

Sridhar 8:29
Yeah, eventually, the speaking engagement did happen online.

Dhiren 8:33
That’s great. And what you’re talking about is a great example of adaptation. And I know from this discussion, there was the formation of Retail One Connect, Umesh can, I asked you to introduce Retail One Connect to the audience, please.

Umesh 8:45
Yes. So as we got in touch with each other, the bond grew further and stronger in the coming days. And when the quarantine happened, and the lockdown started to be implemented in Dubai. That’s when Sridhar has started online networking session program which he named as Quarantine Connect. So this was basically to connect the entrepreneurs who didn’t know in those days as to what to do, because everybody was clueless. So it was a noble initiative by him by the name of Quarantine Connect. And I was part of the Quarantine Connect couple of them initially. And that is when he himself floated the idea, looking at the experience of retail industry I have. And then he also thought that why don’t we make industry specific networking, one, Quarantine Connect. So that’s how we started. The first session happened in the month of June 2020. And since then, we are doing it on third Thursday of every month since last year, I would say nine months.

Dhiren 9:47
Awesome. And I want to go deeper into Retail One Connect because you said this earlier. And you’re also a big believer in networking. And I think networking is indeed one of the secrets to entrepreneurship, if you will, and knowing people in is really the key to getting further in business. And I want to talk a lot about Retail One Connect. But before we go into detail and connect Umesh, Sridhar, I want to pick your brains on, what do you think has happened to retail in the last one year, either if you want to lead us off and tell us what you think has changed in this space.

Sridhar 10:19
Let’s go back a year. And see when pandemic had basically people always enjoyed going to the shop and have a look and feel and buy the product because at least in this region, shopping was one of the main activity, which was like outside of working hours as recreation, or meeting in malls in the food court. So that was one of the things that people used to look towards when they had to really go out and spend some time with family and friends. So when pandemic hit, just like any other area, the acceptance came in very late. I feel that this is probably here to stay. That acceptance, some people immediately understood, some people probably have still not accepted it today that things have changed. And it’s going to be a completely different world and life going forward. So similarly, organizations which understood that going forward, it’s not going to be the same normal, it’s going to be a completely different way of doing business connecting with consumers. And adapted fast benefited those who have still not come to terms with what’s happening, I think are going to be extinct if they don’t change very soon. So one thing that has really gone up is the online business and the way of looking everything related to the online business, right from e commerce to the website design and development to technology to payments, gateway services. Everything I feel has benefited or innovations come in. And a lot of I think Umesh is in a better space to say a lot more I’m my perspective, as I say I’m coming only from a consumer perspective. I’m divided like certain items and products, I can just go online compare and say, Okay, I’m getting it here better, I don’t need to really check it out. And order to save time. Certainly I am still I cannot just order online, without making sure about how the product is the touch and feel is important for me. So as a consumer, I feel the whole thing is still divided. This pandemic has taught us that one has to be literally on their toes, adapting innovating very quickly to meet the consumers and the changing markets.

Dhiren 12:33
100% I couldn’t agree any more. One thing that you mentioned about buying things online, there was a study done in the US. And it was discovered that people will spend up to $750 on an online purchase anything more than that they tend to be very scared about so it lends very well to what you’re talking about. Because you know, at certain point you want to touch and feel the product. And that’s very interesting insight from you. So thank you for sharing either Umesh what are your thoughts on the situation and landscape of retail in the last one year?

Umesh 13:01
Absolutely. I’m going to start with saying that retail landscape has completely changed. What used to be the normal became abnormal, it is now called as new normal. So that’s the whole journey we’ve seen in last 12 to 14 months have been starting from as Sridhar said, speaking from device perspective, in the month of March, we were all doing good and up till the time we were sent into lockdowns and then the lockdowns happened, suddenly everything got closed, you didn’t know as to where to buy your groceries from where to buy essential items from we have seen the madness of buying tissues and the papers and whatnot around. So mainly, in the initial days, when you were allowed to go for a certain period of time in the grocery store and buy. Of course, with the permit. It was mainly the essential items which you were buying, you were not providing things and all this kind of stuff. Because even then people were thinking that it just for a month or three weeks or four weeks or five weeks, and then we will be back to normal, but it never happened. As of today, you can say that some part of the world are still under the lockdown. And this might continue for some more time, then what’s happened is that most of the retailers who were already into the online channels, I mean, the first thing which has happened with the retail industry in this that they had to adopt the e commerce wholeheartedly, even if they didn’t want it before the pandemic. So something which they had should hold it for, let’s say for next five years, has happened in the span of five to six months, it’s a majority of the retailers who were believing in brick and mortar stores, they had to immediately shift to online channels. Now, when we say online channels, the online is much more bigger and larger than the physical retail. So if you don’t know where to start with, should you have an e commerce website? Could you have your advertising happening on the social media channels? Could you do the WhatsApp messaging? Could you call Your customers haven’t people didn’t know what to do. So this was an conundrum, the easiest thing to do is to look at the e commerce website because that is what people learn from agents in the Walmarts of this world. And you can see it happening that Walmart’s amazing has certainly grown from what they were doing to what they are. Now, Jeff Bezos, at one point of time was the richest person on earth before Elon Musk took over, that shows you as to what was the popularity of the e commerce platforms at that point of time. Now, even in Dubai, what used to be, you could say eight to 10% of the online buying, it has gone up to 69%. At one point of time, people were buying everything online. And when we used to have only an amazing or a moon or a couple of more guys, now we have got close to 25-30, online channels where you can buy anything what you want, including the groceries. So that’s what I would say. And that is not the UAE kind of a phenomenon, it has happened across the globe. So what has made, the change in retailers mindset now is this that this is going to go this is going to carry on like this, you can never go back to your brick and mortar store, as you used to be even there, you need to make changes, which will have to align with the change customer behavior, which has happened in last 12 months or 14 months. Because you and me as customers have changed completely. The most change has come into those age categories where they were not comfortable buying online, which could be you could say 55 and above. Or you could say 20 and less. Now every age group is buying online. The Millennials are the other categories of the age groups, or the customer profiles are now all buying online. And this is going to stay you are not afraid of buying online. The only thing which could happen is that all the retailers have to get into their own regional kind of situation where they’re able to serve their customers where they are rather than bringing the customers to their channels. So that’s what I would say has made the change

Dhiren 17:09
Completely agree with you. And omni channel is one of those bad words like e commerce, everybody is talking about it but I think a lot of business owners are still figuring out not only just business owners, but even the larger brands we’re talking about. E-commerce and omni channel is a very tricky landscape. I want to switch gears and move into networking because we just said that networking is a very fundamental part of success in business. But before we go into networking and Retail One Connect I want to ask you Umesh one question, do you think that ecommerce is the only way forward or is it a combination of multiple things in store and online? What is your opinion on that?

Umesh 17:46
See my personal opinion everything is going to stay. So you will have physical retail also you will have ecommerce also and you will have the other channels as well. So that is why they call it omni channel. So as long as you are available at all point of time, all the channels. And as long as you have the robust technology at your disposal, when you’re able to connect all these channels, you will be successful, you cannot survive only with the physical retail or the brick and mortar, you cannot survive just with e commerce. Even Amazon is going into brick and mortar, you have seen it happening. So all the channels are going to stay some particular channels which will work for them for their products. For some it might be a combination of different channels. And for some it might be only the physical. So I would still not prefer like for example buying the shoe online. Because I would like to hear it, walk a few steps and then take a decision that I want to buy a shoe on customer preference will also come into picture.

Sridhar 18:41
Just to add to quickly, Umesh having given the example of shoes, something that recently happened, which again, probably as detail experts, you guys may want to make a note, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, my son wanted to buy new shoes for his birthday. And he had identified something online. It was a branded one, and it was 70% of online. So what he did was he was not sure of his size and since that how that feel will be in terms of adding in walking that shoe. So he went to the store got the same shoes. And the size is tried a size less and higher. And he tried it and he found that which is the right one for him. And then came back and ordered the same stuff online with 70% off. So here is one consumer behavior where you go to the store where the price is high, you’re actually trying it out for the right size. And then the same thing being ordered online on an offer.

Dhiren 19:35
You’re so right. Thank you for sharing that. There’s actually a term for this isn’t that it’s called showrooming. So when you are finding something online and you want to go try it out and then go back and order it online. It’s a very common thing and I think more so now Sridhar then to your point, you know, you have to order it online. But to be able to go into the store and touch it, feel it and then get the price savings online. I think this is what Umesh was also talking about. You have to figure out how to get that customer to buy from you and bring the store to them wherever they are, indeed, omni channel is the future. I know this is a very hot, controversial topic, everybody thinks retail is dead. But I think I share both of your opinions that I don’t think retail like physical is going anywhere, it’s going to stay. Like Umesh rightly said, it’s the combination of the two that retailers need to figure out how to manage their business

Umesh 20:21
Dhiren, I would rather see it as become alive now. This is the time when retail is going to grow like anything, I mean, mark my words, in next five to 10 years, you will see retail going places to places and all different avatars, rather than what we’ve seen so far. So it’s going to be a pretty decent decade of retail, as we go along.

Dhiren 20:43
That is a really interesting insight. And I know a lot of retailers are concerned, business is not as the way it was used to be. So hearing this, I think will definitely give them some encouragement, I want to ask you both about the importance of networking. So switching gears a bit. And I know this is also true this area of expertise. Sridhar I want to ask you, where do you think networking falls under in this picture, and how something like Retail One Connect helped people over the last year.

Sridhar 21:10
Networking, I would say is the backbone of growth, growth in life, growth and business. It is underestimated. Most people don’t network till they actually needed. In my experience I’ve seen they don’t network till they really needed I always compare it to fixing or building the roof of our home. Would anyone fix or build the roof of their home after it rains? No. They always keep checking it and fixing it frequently. So that is what we should be doing. Constantly networking and building relationship and expanding our network because we never know when a requirement may come up. So as far as Retail One Connect is concerned, after actually meeting Umesh, knowing him, and when I met him, he was just contemplating entrepreneurial journey, and he was still in employment and he still live. But then he is strongly very much into getting into an entrepreneurial journey. So I realized that my show is not networking enough. And there are scores, or hundreds of people or thousands of people like him, who are probably just going from home care to car came to office came back to car came, and then back to home care. They’re not networking, they’re not really doing anything about expanding, because what does networking do? It creates a whole lot of opportunities for you, you meet new people, you probably could learn something new from them, because they all have their own failures, successes, and learnings and knowledge that they bring to the table, you meet new people, probably you get a new supplier who could completely bring a fresh breath into your whole organization in terms of the product, or what they could be supplying. That could be causing. It’s not just about meeting people to sell. You could be really lucky to find a client but not necessarily that that should be the only objective. You could find a life partner, you could find a friend. So many things could happen if someone networks with an open mind. As I said, when I met Umesh, we had a journey of about three months together in terms of various forums and associating and knowing his retail expertise. I said, Okay, fine, why not, we start an industry specific one. And the whole objective was to bring all the professionals related or connected with the retail industry and give them a platform where they can come and have a community feeling because there was so much uncertainty in the air and people who are like not knowing what’s happening. It feels like they belong somewhere. So that’s the whole idea where you come you feel that this is my community, these people speak my language, these people understand what I say. So I feel like I’m belong here. I don’t want to be struggling all by myself. I have others with whom I can thrive together. So that’s the whole idea of this concept. And so we’ve done about a months now. It’s been an amazing response. We have got a nice small community, which is growing and thriving, which has put in a lot of hard work into it.

Dhiren 24:17
Before we hand the mic to Umesh, you know, networking usually gets a very bad rap. And I think either you want to some of that most people who go into networking thing, they’re looking for business or they’re looking for customers. But that’s far from the truth. Networking is so much more than looking for your end consumer, friendships, business, relationships, personal relationships. There’s so much that comes out of good networking. And like you said, it’s not something that you do today or tomorrow. You do it as an ongoing practice. Well, I think that you shared something very interesting.

Sridhar 24:45
Absolutely. Just adding a couple of things since you pointed out there in one is a statistics where if you’re really looking for an end customer or to get a client when you go for a networking event, the statistic says that if you meet 100 People 100 people at a networking event, which is almost impossible, you probably will get two clients. So just imagine if you go to a networking event and meet 20 people, and you’re only going there with the mindset of selling, finding a client. Networking is all about building relationships. It’s about farming cultivating. It’s not about just taking, it’s about giving and finding those like minded people whom you can create a win win relationship with. That’s the whole thing about networking.

Dhiren 25:32
You said the key word, right? It’s farming not hunting. And that can make a world of a difference. Umesh you want to add anything?

Umesh 25:39
Absolutely, I mean Sridhar already said, what networking is how Retail One Connect happened, or what we are doing at Retail One Connect, and how it is growing amount of time. Just to add to what either I said, a couple of things, which are either always mentioned after each networking session for all the members is one, continue that networking, have one to one connections, even after that session. I’m a great follower of that. And I’m telling you that what is the reset that one year before if you have met me, I was completely a different person. So today, I have a network of so many people, not only from retail industry, from other industries as well, thanks to see that for all that. And during last 12 months, unfortunately, we have lost a lot of people, people have lost their jobs. But I would say this period was the golden period. For me. This is the time when I thrive, like anything I grew like anything. And it was thanks to networking. So one thing was that, that you have to have one to one meetings after the networking session. And second is do not consider each other as prospective clients. You know, that’s what we always said, you know, because you never know, and, today Dhiren when we met you through a networking, if you look at it in that way,

Dhiren 26:59
100% Yeah.

Dhiren 27:00
So we are not looking at each other as selling something or buying something, what could happen is that you and me might not connect with each other, but you might have some connect, which might be of help to me. And that’s exactly what we learn in the networking events. So these are the two things which I wanted to add to what Sridha said.

Dhiren 27:20
Yeah, thank you for pointing that out. One thing that I’ve heard from my experience as part of learning networking is you don’t sell to the room you sell through the room. Like we said, we don’t want to hunt we want to farm we want to make this relationship because you never know like when these relationships are going to come in handy. So I want to ask you specifically in tying retail and Retail One Connect together over the last year or at least as soon as the pandemic launch and you launched the Retail One Connect number one, was there any motivation for you guys to start Retail One Connect, other than connecting people? What could have that been if there was one?

Umesh 27:53
For me, it was basically to, as we said, I think weather has made it clear in this last question itself. The first one was to bring people on one platform where they feel belonged. Because it was not only others, even I was clueless as to what to do. Because we were sitting at home, the offices were closed, most of the works were not happening. So what do you do sitting at home, most of the people were learning different skills on LinkedIn, online, or learning a new language or a new musical instrument or something, I mean, everybody will doing something, but then we all knew that it cannot carry on for long. So obviously there has to be a platform where we can speak to others. And thanks that we got zoom opened in this part of the word and then we started talking to each other. So it all started with your family or your old friends, you must have spoken to your college friends or school parents and all that happened. And when that got over, you again started searching for people to talk to. And I believe that is why this was there in everybody’s mind that how to bring the community together. And that’s one of the point. And second is that obviously when we came together, I think Sridhar would also agree that even Sridhar either did not know so many retail experts since we’ve met and we started these networking events and similar happened to me as well. And I got in touch with people sitting in UK, US, Australia, Canada, I’m in room I could not have met otherwise. And at some point of time in a couple of sessions we have brought guest guest speakers from UK. We’ve got guest speakers from India, that could have never happened. So I would say that that was the whole point of it. And then even today, we started with I believe 13 people in the first session, and today we’ve got a community of almost 60 – 65 people who have joined through the network. And most of these are all new friends. They were not someone who we already knew. So that’s a great opportunity for each of us now and we are thinking big now. So it is not going to be just Retail One Connect. We are thinking big take it to the next level and see as to what all we can do with this

Dhiren 30:00
This episode of the elevated entrepreneur podcast is brought to you by the Cloudscape Care package. This care package is designed specifically for retail and restaurant business owners. If you’ve got a retail or restaurant business or considering open one, and talk to us at, or drop us a line at And we’ll show you how the care package and all of its features including training, implementation, and support can help you set up for success.

Dhiren 30:29
That’s amazing. I want to ask you that as well about the future of this platform. But I just want to ask Sridha for a few minutes. Sridha you want to share a story maybe in the last one year, if you’ve seen something that you think would be worth sharing about Retail One Connect

Sridhar 30:44
Measures said a few things which were in my mind the same time all I can say then based on what you asked me before, what you’re saying now, when we really began this journey, we could have easily given it up in a month or two and said, Come on, it takes a lot of effort and pain. I organize a lot of networking event and I do a lot of things. For example, even now, every week, there is a general One Connect which is happening Connect Retail session, not specific to retail but a general one for all the other business owners and entrepreneurs every week, it’s happening for an hour and a half on a Monday. The thing is when retail even from the Retail One Connect, there is a huge difference. Someone who attended the first month probably may not have come back because of how raw the structure and how raw the whole thing was how we conducted. But today, eight months down the line, a broad changes to it in terms of the structure in terms of the agenda in terms of how we go about things, because we have learned from our own way how we conduct things. Now, in terms of story, nothing specific goes every single Retail One Connect has been a learning experience for me as a consumer not being a retail expert or from the industry itself. Because as Umesh said, he has been pushed, my thing is more of an anchoring facilitating, whereas he has been pushed to the limit of looking for speakers, looking for experts, reading books in those areas, researching in those areas, in terms of researching India still have done, but may not have gone all out to contact people and possible no prospect of speakers who could come on board. So compared to the month we started and now my connections have grown in terms of the retail end of the meeting new people experts coming in and sharing and hearing so many people speak about what’s happening in the industry, I would say we have really evolved in terms of a networking platform. And it’s not a just a simple networking session. There is a lot like each participant now shares a slide about his personal and business introduction quickly to share about who they are, there is an expert speaker coming in. There’s a company one of the members sharing their business for five minutes what they do, and highlighting it to people, there’s a newsletter going every month to people. So we’ve really grown in terms of the structure and the way.

Dhiren 33:10
And thank you for that insight because I was trying to probe you because I think a lot of people might find it hard to believe that two gentlemen just sitting in the panel decided to start something so selflessly. And I think what you said there really points that this is not being done for some commercial incentive. This is really purely for the love of helping people grow.

Sridhar 33:27
Just to add to that, as of now or when it started, there was no aspect of having “Okay, fine, let’s make money out of this” or anything like that. We may sit down one day and say, Where is this going? So let’s have we have got a database of 100 200 300 people what 10 or 20 people out of this wanted to create a mastermind and say, Hey, we’re willing to pay something. Let’s get more out of this let’s do something higher like creating a very focused learning community. We may be doing something but then the Retail One Connect networking session, I don’t foresee it as being something which is going to be paid or membership based. There could be a retail mastermind community, that’s a different thing. We are already growing in terms of meeting new people learning from them getting more contacts, what what do we weren’t, it’s already happening. It’s a byproduct.

Dhiren 34:15
Yeah, and you said the word byproduct right. Another idea can always come from another idea and as you evolve, things will change. And I know Umesh alluded to this, there are some big plans coming from retail for Retail One Connect I would ask you, is there a certain type of person that should attend Retail One Connect or, what is your recommendation Umesh.

Umesh 34:33
See, predominantly, it is industry specific content. So we are aiming to connect with the people who are linked with the industry. So these could be professionals, these could be business owners, this could be entrepreneurs, this could be suppliers, these could be people who are you know, somehow linked with industry. So and this is what we have seen in the last nine months, the kind of people we get. So in terms of the larger plans, if I may say so. As Sridhar said, one is obviously the retail mastermind community which we want to be the more empowered. Second is obviously now we have given a platform starting from UAE, we might take it to different countries now. So because we have participants coming from all over GCC, we have participants from UK, we have participants from India, and from some other countries. So it might go to the other countries as well, where they start their own Retail One Connect kind of session. So that is one thing. Third platform, which we have to discuss, but this is in mind is this that how to convert these connections now into business for different people. Because I come from a background where I have done most of the rollouts of the stores, there are people who are providing technology to the retail industry, there are people who are providing the latest AI and Ml kind of inputs to it, then there are many other who are from the manufacturing side of the retail industry. So how can they all combine and work together collaboratively for a particular project for that matter, it could be a brand who needs help from my kind of people from a supplier from a technology enabler, or those kind of stuff. So the next could be that connect with these four, five people to a particular brand. And let them take it forward as one group and help that brand and grow together. So that could be one of the ideas.

Dhiren 36:25
Sridhar, I want to ask you on what Umesh was just talking about, is this idea of bringing the industry together? Do you have any particular thing in mind that there should be a certain type of retailer or a certain type of person that should be joining or any thoughts on what you think, who can come and who should join this group.

Sridhar 36:44
Actually, we’re not putting any kind of terms of qualifying conditions right now for who should be joining. The thing is, in terms of retaining, we do think about whether this person should be retained and should be part of the retail organic going forward. The reason being, we don’t want to be judgmental, as long as they are connected in some way to the retail industry, we’re fine with that. It could be a retailer themselves, it could be a chain of retailers, that could be the suppliers to the retail, because everyone brings some knowledge, some connections, some experience to the table. For example, I’ll just give you an example. We have someone from Havelock interiors, coming as a regular member to our forum. They’re one of the largest interior fit out firms for retail, having done a lot of data projects, not just in the UAE, probably in the Middle East, they have someone from s3 Technologies. Every time you walk into a showroom and exit the showroom, you hear a beep. So it’s right by the s3 technologies, those pillars kind of a thing which detect if someone is taking something out of the store. So we have all these people and all these people bring their own expertise and connections and knowledge to the table along with other retailers. So there is no qualifying at the entry level, someone wanting to just come and experience the detail on clinic there is no we don’t stop anyone. As long as they are connected to the retail industry in some way. That’s fine. We read them at the beginning when they submit the registration form. But then retaining them and sending them an invite for the next retail ordering. We only do that based on if there is a strong connection to the retailer. And if someone doesn’t like the whole structure, they themselves fall off. So we don’t have to really ask someone to leave. At the end of the day. I’ve always experienced that like minded people who find value who are patients who believe in farming, they they say that

Dhiren 38:36
100% agreed. Umesh, I want to ask you if there was one thing that you’ve learned in becoming a networker and having joined Retail One Connect and running it now for the year, there was one tip that you could give someone who wants to attend Retail One Connect, what would that be?

Umesh 38:50
I would again say that this is a purely a knowledge sharing and networking platform. So don’t expect anything else from this platform. What happens happens outside this platform . So this platform is only to connect you with other industry professionals. And to give you some more knowledge about the industry, what you do after you go out of the session is what matters. You know, because in one hour, I cannot teach you retail. I cannot connect you with hundreds of people. But yes, I can connect you with maybe 15-20 people who can connect you maybe 2000 people. So that’s what the idea is. And that’s how I can very well say that because when people come to me and they say well, one friend of mine came to your Retail One Connect, and he got in touch with me because he knew that automation is a common trend and that’s how they got connected with each other and they’re doing business with each other. It feels so pleasing to hear these kind of stories when people say that because of the Retail One Connect we got together we met with this guy. We are doing business now. Thank you so much. I mean what else you need. That’s more than enough.

Dhiren 39:55
And just want to say because this is an audio medium. I don’t think anybody can see this smile at Umesh you have on your face, because it looks like it brings you a lot of joy. And I just want to pass the mic to Sridhar. Sridhar please add to this.

Sridhar 40:07
Yeah, just want to add to what Umesh said, firstly, one has to be consistent. One has to be coming, have faith and coming back again and again, again, because all you need is one connection and one idea that could change your life completely. And that could come in the third week, the third event, or the eighth event, or the 12th event, or even the first event, so it could come anytime. But if you just come for one or event and then say, Hey, I don’t think this is for me. No, that’s the biggest mistake you’re doing it, we are not the losers, we are providing this platform for you to come and take advantage of now I will tell you something. It’s connected to the question you asked maybe previously, finally, like, did you start this with any kind of an objective or motive? No Umesh brought in the detail expertise, I brought in my networking expertise, we combined and started with out any thought as to what could happen from here. Then what happened was one of the participants who attended two or three months and was regular, suddenly came to know that I have a freight and logistics business. And he connected with me he was stuck. He had a big issue with some shipment. And now he’s a regular customer is giving me four to five shipments every month. And I never approached him for business. I never went to him and say, Hey, I guess you’re doing this, why don’t you give me a shipping? No, he happened to come here, see me in this forum, conducting this and connect with me and said, Please solve this problem for me. I did that and now he’s become accustomed. So it’s the byproduct, as Umesh said, you just keep coming consistently without an objective of I need business. That becomes I envy I need business. Whereas you just come here to learn to connect. Business is a byproduct. Everything else is a byproduct

Dhiren 41:57
Like they say right, the more value you create, the more people get to know like and trust you once they know like and trust your business becomes automatic.

Sridhar 42:04

Dhiren 42:05
I want to just asked Sridha, one question or Umesh touched upon this a bit earlier, you talked about the future of Retail One Connect, and you said there could be a retail mastermind it could be getting into many countries. What does this timeline look like? Do you have anything in mind Sridhar?

Sridhar 42:18
The retail mastermind community, we will definitely like to launch six months from now in UAE And then take it up. We’re not sit down and like created any kind of a roadmap right now here are definitely I would like to really strengthen it here in UAE first before taking it forward anywhere else. Again, keeping it very open in the morning. So that you know we are open to opportunities. We are open to discussion. people listening out there who may want to know, how could we if interested be taking this forward with your guidance. So we are very much open to doing it sooner. .

Dhiren 42:29
Great, So if somebody wanted to join Retail One Connect, what would that look like? How would they join, Umesh, can you walk us through the steps?

Umesh 43:03
Right now what we generally do is that the day is fixed. So the calendar for the whole year is already fixed. We know which day is going to be let’s say in the month of September or October. So that calendar is floated. And what we do is that two weeks prior to the event, and each month, we float a flyer, which also has a registration link. And this flyer is floated on the social media channels. That could be my LinkedIn account and post Facebook account and traders LinkedIn and Facebook account. And we also run a whatsapp group where it is noted. And then we also encourage all the regular participants to share it with their friends, whomever they want to be a part of. And that’s how we collect all the registrations. And to add to that, if there is any special guests coming for that activity for that session, we also float another flag on the same channels to make people aware of as to who is going to be the guest presenter. Sridhar can add more to that.

Sridhar 44:06
Yeah, just to make life easy for any of the audience who’s listening to this and wants to take more apart from what we said, going into our LinkedIn accounts and keeping abreast with what’s happening. The Center website will going forward how Retaill One Connect details so they can just go and submit their registration their

Umesh 44:25
And last not but least our contact details are always there. We encourage people to be pm or DM us, as they want to know more about this.

Dhiren 44:35
Yes. What we will do for you guys is I make sure that your LinkedIn pages the s&t pages are linked in our show notes. And people can get to that. And I also see that the address thank you for that. Sridhar it’s , we’ll make sure this is linked in the show notes as well as your LinkedIn pages. And again, you’re doing this for the community, not for any gain, other than just connecting everybody and helping everybody learn and I think that’s something that I’ve taken away from this conversation is never underestimate the power of good networking and what you can accomplish by having smart people in a room. And just talking and learning. That’s really the piece. Now, I want to ask you two questions before we start to wrap up. I start with Sridhar, Sridhar you’re on the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, I want to hear from you. As a coach, as someone who helps other entrepreneurs, what do you think makes an entrepreneur an elevated entrepreneur?

Sridhar 45:25
Constantly working on themselves, most people look to change outside, I’m sure you know, the cause and effect. Everything in this universe, everything around us is cause and effect. So if you have a certain effect, it is because of a certain cause. If you want a different effect, you need to work on the cause in changing the cause, not the effect. So if a person wants to go higher in terms of elevate themselves, their organization and be an elevated entrepreneur, they need to look inwards. What can I change about me? What can I change about the way I think? What can I change about the way I go about things, my habits, bring a change in my results. You said some time back earlier in the podcast about retailers and retail business going through a tough time and people struggling. I would only like to add one thing. someone out there is innovating and succeeding. Why can’t it be the person who’s listening to this podcast now? only differences, people are not spending time in thinking. Because whatever today is huge success was an idea in someone’s mind one time. So if everyone who’s listening here, if they are struggling or want to grow, if they can allocate 30 minutes in a day, every day, if not an hour. So just thinking wearing the thinking cap and say, What can I do differently? What new ideas can I work on, to take my business to the next level. And then maybe initially, for the first one, or two or three days, the ideas may not be really great. But once they make it a habit, they got to come up with some amazing ideas, spot breaking ideas, that they will themselves be amazed of like really isn’t news coming up with these ideas. So this will take them to a completely different level in due course.

Dhiren 47:23
I just want to add, I love what you said. You said that the journey to become an elevated entrepreneur starts by looking inside and what you talked about setting up time to think as my business coach calls it strategic thinking time, if you are able to sit down and like you said, spend 30 minutes, this thing with the brain do its thing. That’s where the magic is. So I really appreciate what you said, I thank you for sharing that. That’s I think one of the best is, is always great to remember this and remind people of this. UmeshI know you’re on your entrepreneurial journey, I want to ask you, in your experience, what makes for an elevated entrepreneur,

Sridhar 47:57
Have a mentor. Without a mentor, you cannot achieve anything I can very well tell you this, I have spent 40 years of my life just searching for that mentor. Finally, I got one other speaker here today and hand hold. Believe in what he or she is teaching you. Of course, we all have ideas, we all know what we want to do. And at one point of time, we will succeed. But if you have a mentor, we assured you will not be an elevated entrepreneur, you will reach to your goal much earlier than others. That’s what I believe. So I would say have a mentor. That’s the basic refund.

Dhiren 48:36
So well said having a mentor is not just about someone teaching you but also maybe someone showing you the way getting you there faster. We all use different types of mentors in our life. We use a teacher who teaches us a skill. Why not use a mentor in business to teach you the way and show you the way and get you there faster. Well said thank you for sharing. Gentlemen, as we start to wrap up, I just want to open the floor first for Sridhar,is there anything else you want to talk about Retail One Connect, please add leave it as an open discussion here for you.

Sridhar 49:05
I would like to wrap it up by saying that no one really needs to struggle or find the going difficult. We can all have an amazing business and a spectacular life. Provided as I said earlier, you just slow down a little and start looking inwards and changing you’re working on changing your habits. Once you change your habits, you will start seeing different results. And as Umesh said, I too as a trainer as a coach have a coach because I don’t know everything. We don’t know what we don’t know any entrepreneur out there, not only have a coach, be a part of a community, because a lifetime is not enough for you to fail and learn from your failures. Learn from other people’s failures. Surround yourself with other people who have probably heard the journey and failed and succeeded. Learn from them. These are the two things I would say.

Dhiren 50:02
Thank you Sridhar. Umesh, where can people find you? You mentioned LinkedIn earlier, is there any other way people can connect with you other than LinkedIn, which I’ll have linked in the show notes for you.

Umesh 50:12
I’m very active on LinkedIn, I’m a LinkedIn person. I am not very fond of the other social media channels. LinkedIn is the place where you can find me. That’s about it.

Sridhar 50:23
You disappointed me Umesh. I thought you would say the 5am Club probably don’t know. Quickly, I wanted to share. The first thing that we really together started was one of the first seven eight people that I approached in the pandemic last year during the lockdown. I started something called a virtual 5am Club every morning at 5am we meet or resume call. And I take people through a 35 minute, 40 minutes structured morning session. And Umesh has been probably the only one who has been consistently attending for the last 312 days. Today was 312 today. And he has also been a big pillar of support to me in terms of running the session about 100 days that I was not active. I was just active as a participant and I had to take a break. And he took the baton and he ran the Covino. So if anyone wants to really meet both of us, it’s a 5am. Club also. Again, that’s free, no membership, no joining fee, nothing whatsoever is trying to say is that you can meet us at five am where you don’t need to,

Dhiren 51:30
if you really want to meet us. Let me know how serious you are about wanting to meet us.

Umesh 51:35

Dhiren 51:37
And Sridhar other than the 5am Club, where can people find you? Is there any social media handle that you’d like to share?

Sridhar 51:44
I’m pretty active in LinkedIn and Facebook. I am Sridhar. So that’s the LinkedIn handle.

Dhiren 51:50
That’s amazing. I want to thank you both for being so candid and being so open with me on the show. I hope that this episode will inspire entrepreneurs to join, understand the power of networking, and also join retail and connect and find their own benefit in due time. So thank you both for being here.

Sridhar 52:05
Thank you very much Dhiren for giving us this opportunity.

Umesh 52:08
Thank you Dhiren.

Dhiren 52:13
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