Vijay Amritraj’s story is not that of the usual corporate guy who switched careers because it was inevitable. His story of the switch is rather unusual.
When celebrating his friend’s 40th birthday a couple of years ago in Rio, Vijay fell ill in the midst of their holiday. He and his friends weren’t able to understand the situation he was going through.
Nevertheless, the ‘party-boys’ zeal somehow made them to continue their holiday plan and extended birthday celebrations. On their return he was diagnosed with an unusual gall-bladder condition which needed him to be hospitalised for treatment for several weeks.
“This is where I began to ponder on life, health, future, work and so on. On the hospital bed it was my mind that worked with me. I realised I had a lot to process which I was continuously postponing because of meetings, quarterly projections, weekly updates, daily meetings and targets. The corporate terms that point out to success and profits kept me occupied. Honestly, I might have been in the hospital but at that point of time I was rather very relaxed,” recollects Vijay sitting in one of their offices in Banjara Hills.
Now Vijay and the companies he and his friends floated might be making a mark and shining, but it wasn’t without going through a rough patch. The excitement of starting new and then the disappointment of having to sell it or close down. It was all there.
“I wanted to do something on my own, but didn’t give myself any deadline nor did I have a fixed plan. The hospital bed gave me clarity, I quit and sat and planned my life ahead. This also meant putting my years of savings into it to make profits.
It was a risk but the venture we started, looked promising. So, we first started a restaurant. It did quite well, but we realised that retail food and beverage wasn’t what we were inclined to do. It required too much of day-to-day involvement which kept us busy more than usual. Trial and error was good but I wasn’t looking to risk it too much.
Then we took a franchise from Chennai. Another restaurant. Tried everything, but it didn’t go as planned. So before we made further loses we shut down. But we had to save the employment of the people we hired as well,” recollects Vijay.
Finally, Vijay started an event management company Voila Entertainment that would only handle and manage international big-budget events.
“From then on Sensation, NH7 Weekender, Martin Garrix et al have played in the city. So, our company would collaborate with the international event chains and bring it to the city. But I didn’t stop there. Since we have had a good experience with F&B, we also started a centralised mega kitchen along with Fusion9 to cater to the corporate lunches. That’s how Voila F9 was born,” adds Vijay.
This is not all, “Pharma is the sector where we will soon make news. It is just a matter of years. What makes me happy is the way we are contributing to provide employment to young talented people.”