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Delight Gifts: Sending Mesmeric Experiences to India - by Sanjeev Nandkeolyar (SN)

An interview with Pooja & Siddarth of Delight Gifts India

Delight Gifts: Sending Mesmeric Experiences to India - by Sanjeev Nandkeolyar (SN)

We hear various stories of NRI entrepreneurs from UK and US who have made successful ventures in India so it was real pleasure to meet an Australian Indian couple who have made inroads into India with their enterprise during my recent visit to India.

Australians Siddharth and Pooja Lal relocated to India in 2009 to pursue their passion in the emerging world of E commerce. Siddharth Lal (SL) secured a licence from Bruce Clay Inc one of the global leaders in search engine optimisation and marketing while his wife Pooja Lal (PL) set up Delight Gifts - India's first experiential gifts company in Gurgaon.

Here are excerpts from their interview

SN: What prompted you all to leave the comforts of Australia and your successful work environments there to return to India?
SL: After having studied and worked in Australia for over 10 years we felt the opportunities that India presented were huge because of its population and business base. The marketing gaps in India are big especially when you look at it from the western perspective. The dollar investments are relatively small to begin a venture here besides we had age and an extended family on our side that made this a worthwhile experiment.

SN: How did you all go about choosing your area of business?
SL: I have been in the e commerce space for a while now and ran a successful portal selling phone calling cards in Sydney. When I was looking at India I felt that spaces around marketing and making e commerce more effective would be the way to go. In one of my several conferences I met up with people from Bruce Clay which is a global digital marketing agency. We got around talking and they showed interest in joint venturing with us for India. I made several visits to India to study the market and fine tune my business model. I also had the benefit of getting a client interested early on that spurred me on.

PL: For me I had several years of Business Development experience working with Visa Inc. in Dubai and Sydney. Within the payments domain at Visa we had enormous focus within emerging payments so looking at something to do with E commerce was natural also. However, leaving the comforts of a corporate life was not easy so when I relocated to India I initially worked with American Express Corporate cards before honing in on the gifting business idea.

SN: Siddharth would I be correct in saying that your success was classically tied to finding a gap in e commerce marketing in India and then getting a US joint venture partner to train and guide your resources. Is that right?
SL: Right-it was bringing all these together which was Key.

SN: Pooja I am really keen to understand how you developed your business idea especially transitioning from a high flying corporate life. Tell me how you came up with the business idea for your company?
PL: When you come to India after several years in the Western culture you notice several differences in the way things are done that can be done better and with a difference. Whenever I had to gift in India it looked very passť - usual chocolates and flowers besides many lacked both quality and presentation. It is not uncommon in India to get melted chocolates or withered flowers. I felt the new India needed something different to complement the traditional gifting industry. I hypothesized that a single stop company like Red Balloon in Australia, that pioneered experiential gifting, combined with aspects of the concierge services at Visa or Amex for Platinum cardholders could add that touch of difference.
I spent long hours researching the India market to identify such Gift ideas then I conducted extensive consumer focus groups with prospects both in India and overseas to see what they felt about such gift ideas. The results of these research efforts were very positive. People wanted new novel experiential gifting ideas and a reliable service that offered real value they could go to. This helped me to cement the business idea.

SN: It must have taken you quite a while to take this idea from concept to execution. How long did it take and what were the critical road blocks?
PL: Well I followed a project management approach and I set a 6 month start date which was July 1, 2012 and worked backwards on all things that needed to be done- it included company formation, registering a domain name, identifying and signing contracts with prospective vendors, creating website, marketing, staffing, training, ordering software, doing test runs on execution keeping end customer experience in mind. We started modestly so that we could manage well and ensure all are bases were covered. Yes, working in India has its challenges but if you are stickler for details and timelines people generally adapt to your style. Getting good people is of course key.

SN: How do customers order on your website and what is the exact process? What would you say is the difference between conventional gifting?
PL: Ours is an online site Once customers go into the site they can choose from any of the Gift Experiences and place an order with their message. All the gift experience vouchers are sent to the addressee printed on handmade paper and is packed in beautiful gift boxes with handwritten personal message.
Unlike conventional Gifts we can ensure no withered flowers or damaged boxes! We cover all the major cities in India with the biggest advantage being with experience vouchers you can never doubt the quality of the gift.

SN: Who are some of your key Gift vendors? Can you give us an idea of your experiential gifts range?
PL: Our website now boasts over 100 partners in the areas of dining, wine tasting, spa, salon, adventure, art, craft, entertainment and sports. There are experiences available across all price points from Rs. 250 to Rs. 50,000!
Some of our partners include Oberoi Hotels, ITC Hotels, Olive restaurants, VLCC salons. We keep adding new experiential gifts but some of the favourites are scotch tasting experience with renowned whiskey and wine tasters of the world, stay at boutique hotels at exotic locations, touring on a heart throbbing Harley Davidson, chilling out at legendary Balinese or Swedish spas, going on a hot air balloon ride, golf coaching lessons or fresh water fishing in the gushing rivulets.
Delight Gifts has an array of gift experiences for all ages. We have a team of well-versed gifting specialists who ensure that family and friends receive memorable experiences that remain etched in their minds forever.

SN: Gifting in India is really getting big come to think of it- India today celebrates all the days and events like they do in the West- Mother's Day, Valentine Day, Father's Day in addition to the usual Holi, Diwali Rakshabandan, Christmas and people's wedding-do you sense you will have block out periods for gift redemptions?
PL: Experiential gifting does not have a block out period but there can be occasional waiting periods for popular gifts. That is why we like our customers to book their experiences early. In exceptional situations we even offer flexibility of an exchange.
I wanted to add that we manage bulk bookings if someone wants to send say Diwali gifts to a list of family & friends in India. We also offer a handy email reminder a few days before the occasion with a list of suggested gifts. For Weddings, Delight Gifts has launched India's first online registry service for the couple so they can choose the gifts they want to receive on their special day.

SN: Thank you Pooja and Siddharth. All I can say life remains an ongoing celebration at any age and for any rhyme or reason! And I wish Delight Gifts all success to celebrate every such moment. Good luck to you both.

For more information on Delight Gifts log on to and on Bruce Clay India log on to Sanjeev Nandkeolyar is a Director of Instock Australia Pty Ltd - a boutique consulting outfit on Strategy, Research and International Business with a special focus on new start ups. Sanjeev is available on

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