Taking the plunge - Kumar Saurabh Singh

As an entrepreneur I started my journey exactly one year and seven months back leaving behind a decade of banking experience, a well settled job as an Investment Banker with Yes Bank (Mumbai) and a big cash flow which used to hit my salary account every month. Yes it took time, longer than I thought to leave conventional corporate life and handsome salary at the end of every month. Last six month before I left Mumbai and six months after I was settled in Ranchi, continuous assessment of multiple business ideas were in the back of subconscious mind. I have to confess that I was confused. Reason, what I knew the best i.e. Financial Consultancy had very little chances of survival in the market which was filled with chartered accountants taking care of every petty needs of their pampered clients which is normally not done in banking parlance. I chose to refrain from sticky area of work but at the same time I had to rush for better ideas. Desperation kept mounting and so were the business ideas with every passing day with saving vanishing due to day to day financial requirements. Few desperate ideas among countless were starting of a small Maggie joint at Ranchi Airport, small Bio Digester manufacturing unit, warehouse rental business, social media management (for small business & politicians), small vegetable processing unit, e-grocery platform, stone crusher unit, dealerships, etc, etc. The best among all is when I decided to be a contractor with my school friend who is for good is an MLA now from Bihar. Since nothing worked out, I invested most of my savings in agriculture sector selling agriculture input for government. Soon it turned out to be a worst nightmare for me financially as entire chain of activities had huge personal reputation at risk. Yes it was a mistake but without any delay, I decided to take a huge investment loss and exit the business immediately.

New Beginning

But as they say destiny has bigger plans, if you just stick around. During all these trouble and confusion, it was January 2015 when discussion and activities were in process to organise a mahotsav (festival) in a naxal affected area called Itkhori in Chatra (170 km away from Ranchi). Itkhori Mahotsav was (is) a brainchild of Chatra MP Sunil Kumar Singh who was working extensively hard with team of professionals. My involvement during the execution was close to negligible as I had just moved in from Mumbai to Ranchi. I travelled and stayed with MP Sunil Ji all the time till mahotsav was over. This gave me a 360 degree view of every minute detail that went into making the mahotsav successful. With very limited resources, three days Itkhori Mahotsav (Feb 19-21) turned out to be a milestone in promotion of cultural within Jharkhand. More than 2 lakh people from in and around of Chatra, Hazaribag and Ranchi gathered on day two at the same place where naxals exploded a high intensity bomb in December. Incumbent CM of Jharkhand Ragubar Das inaugurated the Mahotsav and within three days on February 23, in state's first cabinet meeting, Itkhori Mahotsav was declared as a State Festival (Rajkiya Mahotsav) which was a historic milestone. With an increase in 10 times tourist footfall, infrastructure like good roads, clean drinking water, sanitation arrangement, tourist guest houses, etc have also fallen in place. Itkhori is probably one of the best case study for cultural tourism spot development in recent times within Jharkhand.

No looking back...

Itkhori Mahotsav shall always remain a core idea which provided enough confidence to me personally before I along with another professional started Svents (https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U). Still it took almost a year to formally start a brand promotion venture which will promote Tourism across eastern India in general and Jharkhand in particular. Svents was incorporated in February 2016 in Ranchi (Jharkhand). Second chapter of Itkhori Mahotsav had presence of MOS Finance Jayant Sinha who went on to say "looking at the stage, preparation and program, I can't believe whether I am in Itkhori (Chatra) or Mumbai". One of the key achievements of Mahotsav has been the promotion and performance of local artists group on a world class stage. Auditions of local artists were conducted by district administration and 8-10 groups in each districts had chance to perform in front of large audience before the performance of national level artists . This has been proved as an outstanding tool to promote and strengthen local art & culture within Jharkhand.

New Avenues of Tourism

Svents organised Konar Mahotsav (March 16-19) in Hazaribagh supported by Government of Jharkhand and District Administration Hazaribagh. Curzon Stadium of Hazaribagh hosted national artists. Close to 100 thousand art lovers. of Hazaribagh collected the free passes distributed by district administration. Second day (March 18) of Konar Mahotsav had tough competition with ongoing India- Pakistan Cricket match but entire stadium was filled with people of Hazaribagh waiting to see performance of national singers. Konar Kavi Sammelan (Hazar Sukan) was organised along with seminars like Make in Hazaribag, Sanitation and Samaj, Sarkaar & Sambhavnayen etc.

Nothing comes easy

Bhairavnath Mahotsav (March 26-28) has been the most challenging tourism event so far which was organised by Svents in Bhojudih(Chandankyari), Bokaro. Tourism Minister of Jharkhand fixed dates of mahotsav a week after Konar Mahotsav (with Holi holidays in between). We had to start from scratch i.e preparation of a place near Bhairav Temple to accommodate audience of more than 1,00,000 to preparation of stage on a uneven platform. From the venue, one had to travel approx 20 km to chandankyari (nearest market) to fetch a bottle of water. Labours who were preparing helipad and event area found multiple king cobras in and around the place. Artists engagement happened only after March 17 (date of tender when Svents was allotted work), advances which were to be paid to artists were given on March 23 (three days before event and last working day for bank before event date). Availability of local labour was almost nil because of holi holidays so we had to bring labours from West Bengal. Still, with all types of challenges around, we completed the event successfully with cumulative audience of more than 150 thousand in three days. Svents received letter of appreciation from Ministry of Tourism for outstanding work done for Bhairavanth Mahotsav. Kauleshwari Mahotsav (April 12-13) had similar challenges as this place comes under the radar of naxal insurgencies.

Future roadmap

Svents has target to pick at least 24 tourism spot in next five years within Jharkhand and develop these place through proper branding and promotion so that new opportunities of Cultural Tourism within Jharkhand can be attained. All this is possible when Government of Jharkhand adopts a firm tourism policy. Current status of tourism in Jharkhand is certainly not at par with other states like MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc. Lack of proper Branding, promotion, law & order, required infrastructure remains main hindrance in tourism becoming a core sector to generate employment and boost economy of the state. Status of tourism can be assessed with a fact that Jharkhand Tourism is not present on social media. Currently Svents growth is completely dependent on the events promoted by government but real growth potential will be unlocked if tourism is brought under the purview of CSR (at least for North Eastern states) which will provide reasonable corpus to promote tourism across India. Svents is in talk with multiple strategic investors interested in sunrise sectors like tourism.

Kumar Saurabh Singh, founder Svents can be reached at @KmrSaurabhSingh