CEO Spotlight: Urvashi Deshpande, Bar-Enthusiast

Congratulations on the launch of! How did you find yourself launching an ecommerce company during the global pandemic?

Starting a brand of my own has been something that I have been working on for a few years and I was looking for the right niche to start my first venture in. The pandemic was an impetus that made me execute faster, In March and April 2020, when our social lives were being reshaped, I realized that social gatherings are moving more to the home than to only commercial venues and that there was a big gap in the market where there wasn’t a quality curation of lifestyle products that are cantered around the bar. We want to cater to those passionate individuals who love hosting gatherings, creating innovative drinks, having fun over games that are unique, and always relish a cool, unique product. Bar-Enthusiast is the largest and most unique collection of these products that I have sourced from various countries across the world and I am still curating more lines every month.

How did you work out what products to sell? And how to produce/manufacture them?

Over the years I have had experience in roles across retail marketing, sourcing and in various industries. The curation of the Bar-Enthusiast product line was based solely on my experience and in-depth research. I have sourced products from various countries after understanding the material specialization in respective countries, the design and the culture aspects; for instance, I get my copper drinkware from India, beer glasses from Austria, drinking games from USA and many various cocktail accessories from China.

How long did it take from your first idea to your first sale?

This was a fast process because I knew what I was doing. UAE is an amazing place to start a business. The leadership of this country has built policies that have lowered the barrier to entry for setting up a business (especially for women.) The time from initiating the idea to making my first sale was approximately 2.5 months.

How did the brand evolve? What marketing strategies did you implement? Have you used social media to grow your business? Or another advertising channel?

Marketing has been at the core of this venture as it’s a purely ecommerce business. Like most e-commerce businesses, the majority of traffic is driven by Instagram content, paid campaigns that are targeted to the right audience and via community engagement. Social is the main channel for marketing but within social there are thousands of levers that I use to drive traffic to the website.

The brand has evolved a lot from the first month till now. We are growing month on month strongly and have also garnered strong interest in B2B orders from the best hotels in Dubai. Achieving all this in less than a year has shown a strong evolution for the brand.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in growing the company?

The biggest challenge is always resources when you are bootstrapping a brand. I am the social media expert, customer support, operations head, finance manager, sourcing specialist and any other hat that is needed. Time is certainly something that becomes a big challenge to allocate efficiently and manage. Since it’s a bootstrapped start-up, balancing between what needs to be outsourced vs what needs to be managed myself is the challenge that I come across on a regular basis.

What are your plans for the next 3 years?

Very exciting times in the coming years for Bar-Enthusiast. I am planning on launching my private label line which will be designed by me and is something that I am very excited about. Another major goal that I have is to collaborate with large players that operate in the beverage category to add my private label product as bundled offering with these global brands. Expanding to global shipping and new markets is my short-term goal.

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East