Lifestyle Viral and Trending 19 Jun 2018 The power of dreamin ...

The power of dreaming

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NEHA JHA
Published Jun 19, 2018, 12:49 am IST
Updated Jun 19, 2018, 12:49 am IST
Thanks to the vision of its founder Ritesh Reddy Mastipuram, the O2 Spa has carved a niche for itself in the Indian wellness space.
Ritesh Reddy Mastipuram.
 Ritesh Reddy Mastipuram.

When Ritesh Reddy Mastipuram started working in the US two decades ago, he didn’t imagine he would ever quit a high-paying job, come back to India and one day run a successful business. After working for nine years and having eight patents to his name in the field of mobile phone technology (semiconductor design), Ritesh made the unconventional decision of coming back to Hyderabad and starting O2 Spa. And there has been no looking back since. “I grew up in Hyderabad and went to St Patrick’s High School. I studied Electrical Engineering from Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, Bengaluru, before flying to the US to do my Masters in Electrical Engineering. Over there, for nine years I worked with a company which was into mobile phone design. As part of my work, I would predict the kind of features that would come in three years from then and build semiconductor chips that would have the capabilities to take care of that,” he says.

At 27, the entrepreneurial bug bit Ritesh and he was eager to start something of his own. “My job was very good. I was treated well and I used to travel extensively — life was phenomenal. But then the entrepreneurial bug started keeping me awake at night,” says Ritesh adding, “My work would take me to Japan a lot and during these trips I used to notice a lot of spas there. People would go to a spa at least once a week to relax and rejuvenate themselves. I started digging deeper and realised that globally it was a $100 billion market. In the US itself, it was a $30 billion market. And in India, we were hardly at the tip of the iceberg. I realised that if I had to quit my job, come back and start from scratch,  I better start with something that is scalable. After three years of aggressive research, I realised that this is one industry where there is hardly any competition. So, I came back in early 2009 and started O2 Spa.”

 

When Ritesh returned to India, there were hardly any spas in Hyderabad. He then started scouting for high-end places to begin his entrepreneurial journey. The elite class was his target. “At that time Novotel hotel had opened. They were looking to bring in a spa operator in order to be eligible for a 5-star certification for their property. I started building a team and then in March 2009, we opened our first spa,” he says. That was just the beginning. Taking his power of persuasion with him, he started approaching other hotels. This is what kept him going, even though he was new to the market. “We went on to open our second spa at Marriott in Hyderabad. This was a phase in which I was eager for growth. The Hyderabad airport was analysing many other spas at that time, but the power of persuasion came to my rescue again and we opened our third branch there. Once we got Hyderabad airport, we went ahead and bid for other airports in the country. I was dreaming big,” he says.

 

Ritesh went on to expand his business and today, O2 operates more than 23 outlets internationally including in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, and have over a hundred outlets in India. “We see tremendous potential in India. From 27 cities right now, we want to scale up to 30. We feel there are more than 450 places in India where O2 can exist. But the fundamental challenges are to grow and bring spa-goers into the market. We do a lot of campaigns for that,” he says.  Scientific studies prove that getting a spa treatment stimulates your body and ensures that your skin glows. Ritesh says, “India has been a very massage-consuming country. Our grandfathers would always have someone come home and give them a maalish. However, things changed with the previous generation. Our plan now is to expand in such a way that there is an O2 Spa not more than 10 minutes away from a customer’s home.”

 

Ritesh is totally invested in the spa business. This is why he even runs a spa college. “We decided to keep scaling the spas but then supply was a problem. So we started a spa college under the O2 skills brand in the outskirts of Hyderabad. We have underprivileged men and women from all over the country pursuing various training programmes there.” O2 started making profits since the first store. “We have been the largest player in the country till now. We have a philosophy called ‘we have one’. It means that every store should be run in such a way that it is the only store owned by the company. Also, there is no other business in the country where the employee personally touches the customer. So it is critical that the employee is very well-trained, well-groomed and well aware of different consumer concerns. Besides these, our brilliant execution, being grounded, continuously monitoring our consumer feedback and taking employee suggestions make us no. 1.”

 

Before concluding, Ritesh also shares that his family was not too excited with his idea of quitting a high-paying job. “Everything was going great guns and it sounded very stupid for me to quit the existing job and start from scratch. But at the same time, they understood this is something that I really wanted. But I also had a plan B in case I failed. Since I was doing very well in my career, I could always have gone back to the US and started over,” says the 40-year-old entrepreneur adding, “It’s been a good journey so far but there is so much more to do.”

 

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