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From Council Estate To Selling 37 Coffee Shops And Raising $40m!

Dimple Patel

Trouva

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From Council Estate To Selling 37 Coffee Shops And Raising $40m!

Dimple Patel

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Trouva

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Dimple Patel
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About Dimple Patel

The BAE HQ welcomes Dimple Patel, the COO of Trouva and exited founder of Love Koffee.

Dimple grew up in a violent council estate and was always curious and learning. She thrived at university and landed a job as a trader at Goldman Sachs. Yet she wanted a new challenge and bought a failing coffee business at just 23. Dimple turned it around and sold it once it had grown to 37 stores!

Next, she joined Trouva, a marketplace for independent boutiques, and helped them raise $40m. She then negotiated a sale to Made.com which went bust soon after! Then incredibly she sold the business again.

Dimple Patel

Trouva

Show Notes

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Dimple Patel Full Transcript

Dimple Patel: [00:00:00] I grew up in a council estate, really violent, high drugs, high crime environment. I knew that I wanted to move into business. We're in the middle of a recession. You can pick a failed business up for almost nothing. How did we get to 37 stores nationwide? I moved ahead, I sold that, and then what should I do next?

Dimple Patel: I came across Trouva. We raised  40 million and we shipped to 50 countries globally as well. So it scaled quite a bit from when I joined. If everything went south, if it meant I had to stack shelves and change booths, I would happily do that because I grew up doing that and we go forward again.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asians. If you're watching us on YouTube, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And if you're listening on Apple or Spotify, make sure you leave us a five star review. Today, we have with us Dimple Patel, who's the COO of Truva and an exited founder from Love Koffee.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, good. Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Amardeep Parmar: So I've [00:01:00] been really excited for this interview because you're somebody who's done so well. But you haven't really shared your story very much so far. 

Dimple Patel: No, I've been very, very quiet. I'm not a person that kind of talks a lot about what I've done.

Dimple Patel: And I think I've become more aware recently of how important that is. 

Amardeep Parmar: And I  think for so many people listening now, there's such great role model in terms of how like much scale you've achieved. And I think there's a lot of people out there who don't believe that they're capable of that kind of thing.

Amardeep Parmar: But I want to get into your childhood first of all, and did you ever believe you'd get to where you are today from that? 

Dimple Patel: I think in some ways, yes. And in many ways, absolutely not. I grew up in a council estate back in kind of late 80s, 90s. My world was so small. So everything that I'm doing now, I didn't even know existed.

Dimple Patel: And the only thing that I did know though was that I needed to get out of where I was. So, you know, in that respect, working super hard, I knew that I'd be working, I knew that I would be building towards something, but in terms of business, technology, I had [00:02:00] no kind of, you know, frame of reference that any of those worlds would, would even exist.

Amardeep Parmar: But with the council estate background, right? Because I wouldn't have expected that from like where you got to today. Yeah. How did you, so obviously you went to university, you went into like the corporate world after that, but how did you build up to that phase? Was it always something which you thought was realistic or did people around you think, oh, you wouldn't be able to make it out and do what you've done today?

Dimple Patel: Yeah, a lot of it starts with my parents. So they moved here when they were very, very young. Hadn't finished school, barely spoke the language and bought a corner shop in a council estate and raised three girls in this really violent, high drugs, high crime environment. But what they did know was education was really important.

Dimple Patel: So they pushed us quite hard on that. I went through school on scholarships. I absolutely loved reading. I was so curious about the world. I was, you know, the annoying child that's always asking why, but I was also a little bit of a risk taker. I pushed boundaries. And I think all of those pieces kind of came together of, you know, [00:03:00] just riding that way through education.

Dimple Patel: I was lucky enough to get to a great university and to some degree, that is a little bit of a conveyor belt. Once you're on it, you work hard, you get the grades, you get the results. And at every stage I was being introduced to a new world. So it's almost kind of like those boundaries are moving slightly further away with every step that I took.

Dimple Patel: I still didn't have a clue how to navigate any of it. And I didn't have anybody that I could ask or go to for advice, but it was just always putting one step in front of the other. And my parents were hugely supportive of that, even though it pushed me into an environment that they weren't familiar with, you know, that's kind of really got me through to the end of university before I was kind of thrown into the corporate world and realized again that I didn't have a clue how the world worked.

Dimple Patel: And that was kind of quite a big Reality shot. But I think particularly that phase growing up, it was just being super curious, asking questions, trying things, finding that they don't work, trying something else and watching [00:04:00] people as well. I'm actually naturally really introverted, you know, walking into a room with a crowd of new people actually still terrifies me, but what I've found as an introvert is you learn so much from watching other people.

Dimple Patel: That's taught me so many valuable lessons growing up, but also in terms of what I do now as well. So I think all of that kind of came together and really shaped who I was, just that I kind of got to graduation and then really had to take another step up again after that. 

Amardeep Parmar: Like after you graduated and went into the corporate world, what made you go into those roles that you did?

Amardeep Parmar: What was it motivated by? Was it you're really interested in that sort of thing? Was it more money driven? What was the idea there?

Dimple Patel: Really honestly not having a clue. So I did an economics degree, you know being surrounded by your friends at university. They were going to an internship so you're like, I don't know what one of those is but I should probably apply for it. So you ask other people what they're doing and there was an element of like jumping on the bandwagon. And at the point everybody was kind of doing accountancy consulting or banking.

Dimple Patel: So I was like, well, I'll choose some banking [00:05:00] I don't really know what a banker does, but let me go apply for it. And that's kind of what took me there. But at that point, you know, I'd inherited my parents mindset in some, in some ways, a bit of a scarcity mindset, you know, you, you get a good job because it helps you pay your bills.

Dimple Patel: It helps you provide for your family. It helps you buy a place. Now, banking obviously ticks. All of those boxes, but it was never a case of do something that you love, do something that you're passionate about, do something that you're interested in. It was, you have a degree in this that will be helpful for you to get that job.

Dimple Patel: And that job will help you save up some money for the rest of your life. Obviously application processes for places like Goldman are quite intense. Some have fumbled my way through those. Um, and you know, they clearly saw something underneath all of like, you know, I wasn't polished. You know, I went into interviews and maybe just said what popped straight into my head.

Dimple Patel: Maybe it was that, but just having the opportunity then to do the internships and to be able to show my work and just, [00:06:00] again, work really hard, learn, contribute. Um, and that was ultimately what kind of, what got me the full time role. And that kind of put me, put me on that corporate path.

Amardeep Parmar: And did you enjoy your time there?

Amardeep Parmar: Well, you were there for a long time. Were you enjoying that or what was the, what, how do you actually feel about it? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, so I think that there was a little bit of a theme to my career where crisis kind of seemed to follow me around a little bit. So I joined banking in 2008. So right in between Really well timed.

Dimple Patel: Right in between Bear Stearns collapsing and Lehman Brothers collapsing. So the trading floor that I walked back onto versus where I had interned was a completely different place. You know, there were massive redundancies happening with absolute chaos. The markets were going wild and any semblance of training just went out of the window.

Dimple Patel: So it was very much a case of, you know, roll up your sleeves, get stuck in, start trading. I didn't even really know what I was doing at that point, but somebody trusted me with like millions of dollars and [00:07:00] told me to go, but actually it taught me so much in those early years. They're so formative in your career, you know, dealing with pressure, working things out for yourself, problem solving, obviously, you know, there's all of the mechanics I learned in my degree and, and you know, the macro part, but I loved it.

Dimple Patel: I loved having kind of that level of bars. There was so much activity and judging the probabilities, trying to calculate the risk, trying to understand, you know, which way the market was going to go and the knock on effect from one change to everything else. For me, it wasn't about kind of the P& L. I didn't Walk off the trading floor at the end of the day and go, oof, made millions there.

Dimple Patel: I'm a star, but it was still a very, very male dominated environment. And I think there's kind of a piece around what I, the work that I was actually doing, but also the environment that I was in and it was, it was really aggressive. 

Amardeep Parmar: And as  you said, you're an [00:08:00] introvert as well. So that's what I was going to ask you next is like, as an introvert in that kind of environment, which is so aggressive and so full on, how was that?

Dimple Patel: I think at times it made me quite an angry person. You do what you need to survive in certain environments. I did have to really learn to stand up for myself. You know, when people ask questions, whether it's because I was junior, whether it's because I was a woman, you know, you never knew why they were questioning you and just really

Dimple Patel: push back in quite a forceful way. And I did, I, you know, I eventually got into a rhythm of that, but it is, it's really hard and it's even harder when there aren't any female role models around you, you know, there were no senior women traders, I think on my entire floor. And so it's really difficult to look around and aspire to be where somebody else is.

Dimple Patel: Um, and I think eventually, you know, once the markets had calmed down, you know, the hours were obviously incredibly long, but there was less activity to fill those hours. [00:09:00] Looking around thinking, well, this could be the next 10, 20 years of my career, but actually could it? Because there's nobody around me that looks like me.

Dimple Patel: And you know, I got married quite young. Um, and I knew that I wanted to have a family one day. Where does that fit into this world? And actually, is it inevitable that I am going to have to walk out the door and start again? And I think at those questions started quite early. And I did, I asked the questions, you know, I said, well, what will I do when I wanna have a family?

Dimple Patel: You know, I can't just take a year off the trading floor and That's going to be difficult for you because obviously the cost of that is quite high. How does this work? And, you know, bearing in mind that this was like 10, 15 years ago, the response I got was the best part of doing what we do is that you're paid enough to pay somebody else to raise your children for you.

Dimple Patel: I think at that point it became pretty clear [00:10:00] that either I paid somebody else to raise my children. Or I left, so it taught me a huge amount. I would not choose to have started my career anywhere else. And I think the culture that they create and, you know, the, the, the quality of people that work there really does push you to be your best, but I think it just wasn't the long term environment for me and particularly for kind of the stage of life that I was in.

Amardeep Parmar: So it's interesting  because you started your first business, was Love Koffeefor your first business?

 Dimple Patel: Yes. 

Amardeep Parmar:And you started that on the side, right? When you were still at Goldman. How did that come about? Where did the idea come from? What made you want to do that in the  first place?  

Dimple Patel:So until I got to Goldman, I had always had this kind of wired into me, that if you work really, really hard, the results will come.

Dimple Patel: It kind of works when you're a student, you know, you prepare for your exams, you do well, you get your grades, et cetera. When I got to Goldman, it was this whole world of like, well, I can work really hard and I could do really well here. But when I look around me, [00:11:00] I'm surrounded by people who are advancing based on other metrics.

Dimple Patel: You know, they're either really well connected or they network really well, or they're able to hold a conversation with somebody way better than I can hold a conversation with somebody. And I think at that point it was a case of, you know, I need to be a more rounded individual to be successful. I need to really put myself out in the world.

Dimple Patel: I need to take a few knocks and I need to pick up all of these skills that I haven't had as I was growing up. The best way to do that is to build a business. Now I'd always been a builder. You know, I was as a kid. Going through the recycling, building shoes out of cardboard and things like that. You know, it's, it's just something that I've always enjoyed.

Amardeep Parmar: Was that from a money making as a kid or just for fun, just to build stuff? 

Dimple Patel: Just for fun. My parents couldn't afford fancy Lego sets. But there was, you know, living in a corner shop, loads and loads of cardboard boxes around. So, you know, it's just that case of [00:12:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: creativity. 

Dimple Patel Yeah, exactly. And I knew, you know, building a business was a way of doing that.

Dimple Patel: The best way to learn is to just... go and do it. It's quite interesting how the choice on Love Koffee came about as well. So. I knew that I wanted to move into business. I knew that I needed to learn some kind of core business skills. So nothing around kind of fancy algorithms, et cetera, you know, that was all happening at Goldman, but I really need to put myself out there.

Dimple Patel: I need a simple business model. I needed room to fail and I needed something that was quite physical, I wanted to be out. I didn't want to be in my house building on the side. I really needed to put myself out there, but I didn't have a huge amount of money. So, you know, I was very junior on the training floor.

Dimple Patel: Bonuses weren't a thing at all at that point. And I had no track record, you know, I didn't have the contacts to go and get funding, who was going to throw a bunch of money behind somebody like me. I was 23 years old. So, you know, in the middle of a recession. There are a lot of businesses that have failed and you can pick a failed business up for [00:13:00] almost nothing.

Dimple Patel: So that's the route that I decided to look at. And so all of that kind of came together in terms of kind of Koffee shops, which were stores that another Koffee chain had shut down. They're like, these stores don't work anymore. There's no way to make them profitable. We're just going to shut them down and leave them.

Dimple Patel: And that kind of you know, it's like, well, that feels like an easy testing ground if I can take those and if I can make them profitable and I can prove that they work, then that could be the starting point in the foundation to then build this out and grow it further. But obviously I had quite a, you know.

Dimple Patel: comfortable job at Goldman. So I had my bets and I decided to do both. I wouldn't recommend that particular constellation of banking and a second business to anybody. 

Amardeep Parmar: I was just  thinking, how would you run a Koffee shop? Cause you said in the person side was also working on the trading floor. Like you'd have to be in two places at once.

Dimple Patel: Yeah. So I, Saturday, Sunday, I would be on the, on the shop floor. I would [00:14:00] get there at 7am. I would be there with the staff, serving the customers, et cetera. And really got to know them. You know, I built those relationships. We really built that team. I had never managed a person in my life and I was hiring people twice my age.

Dimple Patel: And I just went about it as, you know, we're in this together. Look, we're trying to build something for the local community. We really over indexed on the product and customer service. Those were kind of the two key pieces. And what I found over time was that that built an ownership mindset in my staff, that Monday to Friday I could check in with them, but they ran it as if it was their own.

Dimple Patel: And that I would say is probably one of the most important lessons that I learned about kind of building teams and people and working together is establishing that. That ownership mindset and they did a fantastic job. You know, they, they were there Monday to Friday. I would always go in religiously every weekend.

Dimple Patel: And over time we, we built them back up. [00:15:00] It took us, I'd say about eight, eight to nine months to kind of reach that point of profitability. And then beyond that, it was just, okay, how can we grow this? What does expansion look like? I then got to a point where we secured five new sites, but they were with quite big landlords.

Dimple Patel: So we're talking Westfield, London. Those kind, you know, the kind of things where you need funding and you need to do it properly. So that's when I, um, handed in my resignation at Goldman and decided to, to go in full time, raise some funds, and then just kind of took it from there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Well, what's really interesting to me there is how, so you said you were 23.

Dimple Patel: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And I just can't imagine many people I know who are 23, I was actually from a corporate background as well. How somebody would do the same job as me, then at the weekends run a Koffee shop that they'd never run before, that didn't have a family background in Koffee shops, or anything like that, and Did the people around you know about it?

Amardeep Parmar: Maybe not in Goldman, but even your friends, or what did, how is it like the people around you, were they supportive? Did you get that, were like egging you [00:16:00] on? 

Dimple Patel: So... I had, I would say I had a small head start in the sense that my parents had sold their corner shops and started moving into kind of Koffee shops and, and that kind of thing, um, in the north, they kind of got it, but they, it was more of a sense of, you know, for them, Indian parents, you know, got married, you've got a good job, but you know, you've got to have babies one day.

Dimple Patel: And if you have babies, you have to be there for your babies. So do something to make sure that you are around. So I think that was kind of the way that my parents were approaching it. My friends thought I was absolutely crazy. They were like, you've got the golden ticket here. What are you doing? You know, you're a female trader on the Goldman Sachs trading floor and you're cleaning toilets and making Koffees on the weekend.

Dimple Patel: Like, honestly, like, do you know how many people would kill for what you have? And they just did not get it. They're like, what makes you think you can do this? What makes you think it's going to be successful? But I mean [00:17:00] I can just be really stubborn at times once I set my mind to something It is just laser focus of I am going to make this work and i'm going to make this happen now the fact that I was still doing both meant that you know, if the Koffee thing didn't work out, I hadn't given up my job or anything like I still had that as a safety net, but you just can't let, you can't let that sway you.

Dimple Patel: And I think to some degree, you know, that whole entrepreneurship tech VC piece hadn't even really kicked off at that point. So at that point it was just really risky to go starting businesses in your early twenties. Like what was that about? And it probably was, but I think I've always been a learner.

Dimple Patel: I've always wanted to learn new things. And my time at Goldman had taught me so much. I mean, my learning curve was ridiculous, but then when that flattened off, it was like, okay, well, I need that. I need that learning from somewhere else. And even if this business fails, [00:18:00] I haven't lost a huge amount of money because I didn't have much to put in to begin with, but I will have experience that I'm then able to apply to whatever I do next, and I think

Dimple Patel: the whole way through. And I think even to some degree now, I focus so much on the things that I don't know, or the things that I don't have. And I don't know if that's because when you're younger, you spend so much time going, I don't know how those people do what they do, or, you know, I have less than other people and I just, there's always been this kind of urge to catch up.

Dimple Patel: Starting that business was always about the experience, just knowing in the back of my head that like, if everything went south, I had my education to fall back on, which was a lot more than my parents had. If it meant I had to stack shelves in shame freeze for a little while, I would happily do that because I grew up doing that.

Dimple Patel: So I think a lot of my upbringing also just normalized what other people would call failure. Because for me, it wasn't failure. [00:19:00] It was a few steps backwards to where I came from. And then we go forward again. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So your worst case scenario was actually something you've already done, so you, you are familiar with it, right?

Amardeep Parmar: A lot of people were scared of that worst case scenario 'cause they'd never been in that world before. But you obviously then grew like the Koffee shop chain, like further and further and eventually it got acquired. How has that process, 'cause like I said, you're building it as your test business and then you scaled it.

Amardeep Parmar: You were in Westfield. All this amazing stuff happening.. What made you then decide to sell it? Was there an offer coming in or did you think, okay, I want to move on from this? How did that come about? 

Dimple Patel: Yea, So we, how did we get to 37 stores nationwide? So, you know, there was a, there was a really good amount of growth.

Dimple Patel: A lot of people don't know that there was a failed acquisition along the way. So that would have been the exit. And then the BHS situation happened and that spooked them and that fell through. I mean, it took me a huge amount, but we'd reached a point where it had just become a rollout strategy. We had the blueprint for the business, the foundation [00:20:00] was laid, the brand was growing.

Dimple Patel: I had had two children while I was doing that, but I wasn't as interested in just you know, templated rollouts, I wanted a problem to solve. So I think I'd got to a point where, you know, I wanted to move on, try something new, do something a little bit different. And actually the private equity inquiry came in at just the right point.

Dimple Patel: And it's, it's almost like, you know, the timing just aligned. It was the right thing to do. So I moved ahead, sold that. And then when we sat point again of what should I do next? And that's where, that's where I came across Trouva. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And  for people who wouldn't imagine, so maybe they're starting their own business, but they wouldn't even imagine getting acquired one day like that.

Amardeep Parmar: Was that, I guess, because you're a Goldman, that was a bit more normalized in working with private equity. Was it quite intimidating? Because you had to, obviously, I wouldn't imagine, if people are trying to put a price on what you're doing, you're trying to do the valuation and all those contracts, it must be a lot to deal with.

Amardeep Parmar: But did Goldman, I guess, help you because you'd had the [00:21:00] experience of that kind of environment and not the same, but at least some 

Dimple Patel: skin in the game. Dealing with those personalities, I think, I think one way to put it, I think that definitely did help. I think what you need to remember, and it's very easy to get intimidated in these situations is when you have built a business, you know, that business

Dimple Patel: better than anybody else knows your business. Now, somebody that comes in and ask questions, obviously more than welcome to do that. They're trying to understand your business. They're trying to put a number on it. And obviously that's where it can become quite an emotive conversation of, you know, what that number should be.

Dimple Patel: But as long as you kind of ground yourself in facts, you ground yourself in the numbers, um, and try and extract the emotion from it. It's almost understanding it from their perspective because ultimately it's a negotiation and the most successful way to approach a negotiation is really to put yourself in the other person's shoes and find out a way to

Dimple Patel: make them feel like they've got an outcome that they wanted and [00:22:00] guide the conversation to get there. And I think probably one of the things that helped me the most was just supplier relationships through building the business, negotiating with them, negotiating with landlords, obviously all of kind of the business knowledge that I had built into me still doesn't make it an easy process.

Dimple Patel: So, you know, acquisitions are hard and I think so many people glamorize them because everything is just focused on the outcome. But the work that goes into it, the process that you are put through and all the ups and downs of them, it's really, really challenging. I think what helped at that point though, because I was so sure in my mind that it was the right time to leave, it wasn't a case of, there wasn't a doubt.

Dimple Patel: There wasn't a case of, well, should I maybe hold out and somebody would just pay me just a little bit more? If I just, you know, add another five stores or another 10 stores, will that change the narrative? And, you know. It's a good exit. It was great. I mean, I was still what, early thirties at the time, [00:23:00] but really taught me a lot about what that process looks like.

Amardeep Parmar: I like the point you made there as well about how it's, I think whenever there's a big acquisition or something like that, it's the same skills you use, like you said, for landlord and suppliers. So there's skills that people have right now are listening, those stack up. So while it's just, it's scary doing something like that for the first time, you said, like you said, you had the skills already there and a lot of people listening will have the skills potentially to go through the same thing because everybody has to do it for the first time sometime if they're going to do an acquisition.

Amardeep Parmar: And I really like that point you made there about how, because I think it's very relatable. A lot of people will be doing the smaller scale negotiations, but that will then help you do the bigger scale stuff. And then looking at Trouva obviously, so it's been in the news recently, some very good news you've had there.

Amardeep Parmar: What made you get into it? Because obviously it was a very early startup. There's a lot of risk involved there. What, well, for people who don't know, what does Trouva do first of all? And then why did you join? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, sure. So [00:24:00] Trouva is a marketplace, a tech marketplace for independent bricks and mortar businesses.

Dimple Patel: So it's quite boutique- y. So it's very, very curated. Beautiful products across homewares, lifestyle and fashion. We're now at the point where we're working with partners across kind of 13 European countries. We help these kind of family owned businesses list their products. We manage everything from order placement through to logistics.

Dimple Patel: And we shipped to 50 countries globally as well. So it scaled quite a bit from when I joined. But in terms of what attracted me to it, so I guess actually a theme

Dimple Patel: has been fairly consistent from The Koffee business through to this was it's all about supporting independent retail. So our differentiator with the Koffee business was that we were independent. We were handmade, we were artisan, which is obviously, you know, very in fashion now in Koffee, but, you know, we, we were very early on that trajectory and Trouva did exactly that.

Dimple Patel: So, you know, whereas there we [00:25:00] were fighting with the costas and the Starbucks and the Nero's. You know, we have businesses here, they're fighting with the high street giants and they didn't have access to the online market. So we were giving them that additional sales channel. We were giving them access to an audience that they had no way of reaching because of the complexity involved.

Dimple Patel: And I think for me, that was kind of, I guess, the more mission driven aspect of it was to continue helping these businesses and, and really kind of adding color. to retail, but it's also a fantastic product now and scaling a Koffee business is really tough. It's really hands on. The actual scaling aspect is long.

Dimple Patel: It's quite manual. It's really intensive. And what became really clear, particularly with all of the growth in technology is how technology helps boost that scale, um, and [00:26:00] helps you achieve in, in two years, which in so many other industries could take 10 or 15. So I knew when I left, I wanted to move into technology.

Dimple Patel: I just didn't know where, I didn't know what, and I'd say Trouva was a little bit of serendipity to be honest. So I met one of the co-founders. Just kind of asking him for a bit of advice and tech and we got talking about Trouva and, you know, one thing led to another, he was like, we're not hiring for a role, but you should come work with us.

Dimple Patel: And I met them all. They were a fantastic team. I love the energy. I loved what they were doing. Yes, it was risky. But I also knew that I would learn a huge amount again. So I think that element of risk felt like it had a reward, even if that reward wasn't financial or, you know, when you join, you're not thinking in five years I'm going to exit on, on X, but it's like, this throws out a whole bunch of new challenges that I've never

Dimple Patel: faced before, and also a group of people that I've been like, I haven't worked with [00:27:00] for a very long time, you know? So it was really about throwing myself back into that space and starting to build again, but in a completely different environment. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you're all that grew into the COO role, right? And for people thinking about doing something like that themselves, maybe they don't want to

Amardeep Parmar: be found some themselves who want to join a business and help them scale and to do the operations side of things. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced while at Trouva and like how did you overcome them?

Dimple Patel:  Well, when I look back over the last two years, we faced COVID, um, where, you know, we had 800 shops.All facing completely different lockdown restrictions. Completely different situations for the family.

Dimple Patel: Um, and we, we had a situation where our business was effectively going to be shut down overnight because we couldn't access any of our stock. So it's like taking those boutiques and, you know, working out how do we keep our business open? How do we keep trading? And five minutes after we'd worked out that solution, actually the e commerce.

Dimple Patel: Boom happened from [00:28:00] everyone working from home. So it's that, that, you know, situation of one day being like, Oh my goodness, we're going to have to shut down to the next day going, well, it's like Christmas because orders have gone through the roof, like the pace of scale. And also then the next year we faced Brexit and, you know, being an

Dimple Patel: incredibly international cross border business building the technology to be able to continue facilitating everything that we do with all of the uncertainty that came with Brexit and the deal, et cetera. So I think one thing that I would say has probably classified my last three years at Trouva is a huge amount of uncertainty.

Dimple Patel: It's made me think quite a lot about my trading floor days, to be honest. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you miss the trading floor days now?

Dimple Patel: No, but I've definitely grown on them. But I think the macro environment has been really difficult for everybody. And I think anybody that is running their own business right now, 2022 will not have been any different.

Dimple Patel: And I think it's just made really clear that building businesses, your [00:29:00] path is so nonlinear. You don't know what's going to be coming up on a day to day basis. And I think The key that I found with Trouva was the team that I was doing it with were just incredible. And there was that real sense of kind of being in it together, everybody collaborating, everybody supporting each other.

Dimple Patel: That really kind of, now I was saying earlier about the importance of people and how different people work and watching them all come together to solve those problems. So I'd say that particularly at Trouva has been some of the key things that I've learned in my time there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Trouva scaled massively, right?

Amardeep Parmar: So you raised quite significant amount of funding. 

Dimple Patel:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then you went through quite an interesting acquisition process as well. Could you tell us a bit about that? 

Dimple Patel: Yes. Trouva raised 40 million through the whole scaling process. COVID was really great for us. And then 2021, we kicked off an acquisition process.

Dimple Patel: May 2022, we announced that we had sold the business to made. com, which at the time. Fantastic, fantastic exit. The acquisition made so much sense strategically. We were really aligned. [00:30:00] It was going to help us leapfrog quite a lot of growth as well. Obviously, made had a massive customer, customer reach as well.

Dimple Patel: Obviously that didn't go to plan. Four months later, in a very, very public way. Made had collapsed. And I think when you think, think about the rollercoaster that the team had been on and all of our boutiques, we've gone from this absolute high in Made of we've been acquired, we have all of these growth plans, we're going to enter new markets like the US.

Dimple Patel: Four months later, being told to shut down because the group was insolvent, it had run out of money, potentially everybody was going to be out of their jobs. Making that call with the team was one of the hardest things that I have ever done to break that news. As a publicly listed company, things were hitting the newspapers before we were able to tell the team.

Dimple Patel: And just that messaging of being like, the group is you know, it's closing down. I don't even know at this point what that means for you, your jobs, all of these family owned [00:31:00] businesses that we work with, and also being in those board meetings where you're being told that you can't trade anymore. And there's no playbook for this.

Dimple Patel: Like I've never been in an administration scenario before, but also when it's, you know, when our business is still healthy and it's still solvent, but the group isn't, I had no idea what to do. And I remember at that point, just drawing on basic logic of. You know, my business is sound, it's, it's healthy, we have runway.

Dimple Patel: So I'm just going to go into the board meeting and say no, and then see what happens, which is exactly what we did. You know, it's going in and saying, well, our business is great, so we're not going to shut down. We actually think since, you know, you bought it four months ago, that there is value and that there is somebody else that may want to buy it going forward.

Dimple Patel: And if you do end up in an administration scenario. If we're trading, we could be your most valuable asset. So help us find a new, like, let us find a new [00:32:00] home for this business. We'll manage the whole process. We'll do everything. Just give us a time to be able to do that. And thankfully they did, you know, they, they believed in us and we ran a full M& A process again, right over kind of the peak Christmas period last year and completed the second sale in six months of the same company, the afternoon of the 23rd of December.

Dimple Patel: And we've been given until the end of the year, so just made it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it's obviously such an incredible story, but I know it's so soon that you're not allowed to talk about it too much. So what I want to do is get you on again in six months time or something like that, and like really dive into that in particular, because it's such an interesting story, but I just know you're obviously legally bound in different ways.

Amardeep Parmar: So like, thank you so much for sharing your story today. I'm gonna have to jump into a quick five questions now. First one is, can you tell us three British Asians you'd love to shout out who you think are doing incredible work that you think people should be paying attention to? 

Dimple Patel: I'm going to start actually quite close to home.

Dimple Patel: So my husband, Vikesh Patel, he's obviously been with me through this whole journey and super supportive through the roller coaster. [00:33:00] But he's doing some great work. So he runs Patisserie Valerie and Baker and Baristas. So Patisserie Valerie, they took, again, another turnaround business. They took that out of administration.

Dimple Patel: A huge amount of work that they're putting in there, um, to grow that business. So some really, really great things happening there. The second, you've had Reece on the show. So I work with Reece as a venture partner for his fund. They're doing some really fantastic work in terms of diversity, really opening up opportunities to underrepresented founders as well.

Dimple Patel: Great work. Definitely follow Concept Ventures. And then the third one. Is Nilesh Dosa. Now, Nilesh has an amazing story that he runs a social enterprise called I Can, You Can Too, that works with young people who don't have access to kind of mentorship opportunities and it helps them navigate that whole world of Interviews and university and career path very focused on East London at the moment, but I've been working with them for a couple of years and they completely [00:34:00] change these young people's lives.

Dimple Patel: So yeah, some fantastic work happening there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. I love to hear all their stories. And next question is for people listening right now, you might want to reach out for guidance. What could they reach out about?

Dimple Patel: Definitely navigating a business through a crisis, you know, any challenges around acquisition processes.

Dimple Patel: A lot of the work that I do with new founders and new businesses is things like validating operating models, go to market study that I'm more than happy to talk about kind of early stage businesses. But I would say particularly building good teams and taking those teams through difficult situations. I, I'd love to help anybody who is facing those challenges.

Amardeep Parmar: And on the flip side, what's something you need help with right now?

Dimple Patel: I would love just interesting conversations with people about where they think the world of work is going, where they think, you know, particularly within tech, but also other industries, like there's a lot of change happening at the moment.

Dimple Patel: So I think I'm going back to having been through 2022, a lot of [00:35:00] acquisition activity, just looking up into the world and understanding a little bit more about what is happening out there. What are some of the changes that we're seeing and how might five years from now look. So anybody that is kind of in that space that's, you know, happy to share their experiences, I would love to hear about, love to hear about that.

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much again for coming on. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Dimple Patel: Anybody that is looking or unsure about starting a business, just dive in, just get going. The best way to learn or to validate something is just to give it a go. It always seems really daunting before you take the first step, but it teaches you so much about who you are as well.

Dimple Patel: So just go for it.

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Dimple Patel: [00:00:00] I grew up in a council estate, really violent, high drugs, high crime environment. I knew that I wanted to move into business. We're in the middle of a recession. You can pick a failed business up for almost nothing. How did we get to 37 stores nationwide? I moved ahead, I sold that, and then what should I do next?

Dimple Patel: I came across Trouva. We raised  40 million and we shipped to 50 countries globally as well. So it scaled quite a bit from when I joined. If everything went south, if it meant I had to stack shelves and change booths, I would happily do that because I grew up doing that and we go forward again.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asians. If you're watching us on YouTube, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And if you're listening on Apple or Spotify, make sure you leave us a five star review. Today, we have with us Dimple Patel, who's the COO of Truva and an exited founder from Love Koffee.

Amardeep Parmar: How are you doing today? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, good. Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Amardeep Parmar: So I've [00:01:00] been really excited for this interview because you're somebody who's done so well. But you haven't really shared your story very much so far. 

Dimple Patel: No, I've been very, very quiet. I'm not a person that kind of talks a lot about what I've done.

Dimple Patel: And I think I've become more aware recently of how important that is. 

Amardeep Parmar: And I  think for so many people listening now, there's such great role model in terms of how like much scale you've achieved. And I think there's a lot of people out there who don't believe that they're capable of that kind of thing.

Amardeep Parmar: But I want to get into your childhood first of all, and did you ever believe you'd get to where you are today from that? 

Dimple Patel: I think in some ways, yes. And in many ways, absolutely not. I grew up in a council estate back in kind of late 80s, 90s. My world was so small. So everything that I'm doing now, I didn't even know existed.

Dimple Patel: And the only thing that I did know though was that I needed to get out of where I was. So, you know, in that respect, working super hard, I knew that I'd be working, I knew that I would be building towards something, but in terms of business, technology, I had [00:02:00] no kind of, you know, frame of reference that any of those worlds would, would even exist.

Amardeep Parmar: But with the council estate background, right? Because I wouldn't have expected that from like where you got to today. Yeah. How did you, so obviously you went to university, you went into like the corporate world after that, but how did you build up to that phase? Was it always something which you thought was realistic or did people around you think, oh, you wouldn't be able to make it out and do what you've done today?

Dimple Patel: Yeah, a lot of it starts with my parents. So they moved here when they were very, very young. Hadn't finished school, barely spoke the language and bought a corner shop in a council estate and raised three girls in this really violent, high drugs, high crime environment. But what they did know was education was really important.

Dimple Patel: So they pushed us quite hard on that. I went through school on scholarships. I absolutely loved reading. I was so curious about the world. I was, you know, the annoying child that's always asking why, but I was also a little bit of a risk taker. I pushed boundaries. And I think all of those pieces kind of came together of, you know, [00:03:00] just riding that way through education.

Dimple Patel: I was lucky enough to get to a great university and to some degree, that is a little bit of a conveyor belt. Once you're on it, you work hard, you get the grades, you get the results. And at every stage I was being introduced to a new world. So it's almost kind of like those boundaries are moving slightly further away with every step that I took.

Dimple Patel: I still didn't have a clue how to navigate any of it. And I didn't have anybody that I could ask or go to for advice, but it was just always putting one step in front of the other. And my parents were hugely supportive of that, even though it pushed me into an environment that they weren't familiar with, you know, that's kind of really got me through to the end of university before I was kind of thrown into the corporate world and realized again that I didn't have a clue how the world worked.

Dimple Patel: And that was kind of quite a big Reality shot. But I think particularly that phase growing up, it was just being super curious, asking questions, trying things, finding that they don't work, trying something else and watching [00:04:00] people as well. I'm actually naturally really introverted, you know, walking into a room with a crowd of new people actually still terrifies me, but what I've found as an introvert is you learn so much from watching other people.

Dimple Patel: That's taught me so many valuable lessons growing up, but also in terms of what I do now as well. So I think all of that kind of came together and really shaped who I was, just that I kind of got to graduation and then really had to take another step up again after that. 

Amardeep Parmar: Like after you graduated and went into the corporate world, what made you go into those roles that you did?

Amardeep Parmar: What was it motivated by? Was it you're really interested in that sort of thing? Was it more money driven? What was the idea there?

Dimple Patel: Really honestly not having a clue. So I did an economics degree, you know being surrounded by your friends at university. They were going to an internship so you're like, I don't know what one of those is but I should probably apply for it. So you ask other people what they're doing and there was an element of like jumping on the bandwagon. And at the point everybody was kind of doing accountancy consulting or banking.

Dimple Patel: So I was like, well, I'll choose some banking [00:05:00] I don't really know what a banker does, but let me go apply for it. And that's kind of what took me there. But at that point, you know, I'd inherited my parents mindset in some, in some ways, a bit of a scarcity mindset, you know, you, you get a good job because it helps you pay your bills.

Dimple Patel: It helps you provide for your family. It helps you buy a place. Now, banking obviously ticks. All of those boxes, but it was never a case of do something that you love, do something that you're passionate about, do something that you're interested in. It was, you have a degree in this that will be helpful for you to get that job.

Dimple Patel: And that job will help you save up some money for the rest of your life. Obviously application processes for places like Goldman are quite intense. Some have fumbled my way through those. Um, and you know, they clearly saw something underneath all of like, you know, I wasn't polished. You know, I went into interviews and maybe just said what popped straight into my head.

Dimple Patel: Maybe it was that, but just having the opportunity then to do the internships and to be able to show my work and just, [00:06:00] again, work really hard, learn, contribute. Um, and that was ultimately what kind of, what got me the full time role. And that kind of put me, put me on that corporate path.

Amardeep Parmar: And did you enjoy your time there?

Amardeep Parmar: Well, you were there for a long time. Were you enjoying that or what was the, what, how do you actually feel about it? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, so I think that there was a little bit of a theme to my career where crisis kind of seemed to follow me around a little bit. So I joined banking in 2008. So right in between Really well timed.

Dimple Patel: Right in between Bear Stearns collapsing and Lehman Brothers collapsing. So the trading floor that I walked back onto versus where I had interned was a completely different place. You know, there were massive redundancies happening with absolute chaos. The markets were going wild and any semblance of training just went out of the window.

Dimple Patel: So it was very much a case of, you know, roll up your sleeves, get stuck in, start trading. I didn't even really know what I was doing at that point, but somebody trusted me with like millions of dollars and [00:07:00] told me to go, but actually it taught me so much in those early years. They're so formative in your career, you know, dealing with pressure, working things out for yourself, problem solving, obviously, you know, there's all of the mechanics I learned in my degree and, and you know, the macro part, but I loved it.

Dimple Patel: I loved having kind of that level of bars. There was so much activity and judging the probabilities, trying to calculate the risk, trying to understand, you know, which way the market was going to go and the knock on effect from one change to everything else. For me, it wasn't about kind of the P& L. I didn't Walk off the trading floor at the end of the day and go, oof, made millions there.

Dimple Patel: I'm a star, but it was still a very, very male dominated environment. And I think there's kind of a piece around what I, the work that I was actually doing, but also the environment that I was in and it was, it was really aggressive. 

Amardeep Parmar: And as  you said, you're an [00:08:00] introvert as well. So that's what I was going to ask you next is like, as an introvert in that kind of environment, which is so aggressive and so full on, how was that?

Dimple Patel: I think at times it made me quite an angry person. You do what you need to survive in certain environments. I did have to really learn to stand up for myself. You know, when people ask questions, whether it's because I was junior, whether it's because I was a woman, you know, you never knew why they were questioning you and just really

Dimple Patel: push back in quite a forceful way. And I did, I, you know, I eventually got into a rhythm of that, but it is, it's really hard and it's even harder when there aren't any female role models around you, you know, there were no senior women traders, I think on my entire floor. And so it's really difficult to look around and aspire to be where somebody else is.

Dimple Patel: Um, and I think eventually, you know, once the markets had calmed down, you know, the hours were obviously incredibly long, but there was less activity to fill those hours. [00:09:00] Looking around thinking, well, this could be the next 10, 20 years of my career, but actually could it? Because there's nobody around me that looks like me.

Dimple Patel: And you know, I got married quite young. Um, and I knew that I wanted to have a family one day. Where does that fit into this world? And actually, is it inevitable that I am going to have to walk out the door and start again? And I think at those questions started quite early. And I did, I asked the questions, you know, I said, well, what will I do when I wanna have a family?

Dimple Patel: You know, I can't just take a year off the trading floor and That's going to be difficult for you because obviously the cost of that is quite high. How does this work? And, you know, bearing in mind that this was like 10, 15 years ago, the response I got was the best part of doing what we do is that you're paid enough to pay somebody else to raise your children for you.

Dimple Patel: I think at that point it became pretty clear [00:10:00] that either I paid somebody else to raise my children. Or I left, so it taught me a huge amount. I would not choose to have started my career anywhere else. And I think the culture that they create and, you know, the, the, the quality of people that work there really does push you to be your best, but I think it just wasn't the long term environment for me and particularly for kind of the stage of life that I was in.

Amardeep Parmar: So it's interesting  because you started your first business, was Love Koffeefor your first business?

 Dimple Patel: Yes. 

Amardeep Parmar:And you started that on the side, right? When you were still at Goldman. How did that come about? Where did the idea come from? What made you want to do that in the  first place?  

Dimple Patel:So until I got to Goldman, I had always had this kind of wired into me, that if you work really, really hard, the results will come.

Dimple Patel: It kind of works when you're a student, you know, you prepare for your exams, you do well, you get your grades, et cetera. When I got to Goldman, it was this whole world of like, well, I can work really hard and I could do really well here. But when I look around me, [00:11:00] I'm surrounded by people who are advancing based on other metrics.

Dimple Patel: You know, they're either really well connected or they network really well, or they're able to hold a conversation with somebody way better than I can hold a conversation with somebody. And I think at that point it was a case of, you know, I need to be a more rounded individual to be successful. I need to really put myself out in the world.

Dimple Patel: I need to take a few knocks and I need to pick up all of these skills that I haven't had as I was growing up. The best way to do that is to build a business. Now I'd always been a builder. You know, I was as a kid. Going through the recycling, building shoes out of cardboard and things like that. You know, it's, it's just something that I've always enjoyed.

Amardeep Parmar: Was that from a money making as a kid or just for fun, just to build stuff? 

Dimple Patel: Just for fun. My parents couldn't afford fancy Lego sets. But there was, you know, living in a corner shop, loads and loads of cardboard boxes around. So, you know, it's just that case of [00:12:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: creativity. 

Dimple Patel Yeah, exactly. And I knew, you know, building a business was a way of doing that.

Dimple Patel: The best way to learn is to just... go and do it. It's quite interesting how the choice on Love Koffee came about as well. So. I knew that I wanted to move into business. I knew that I needed to learn some kind of core business skills. So nothing around kind of fancy algorithms, et cetera, you know, that was all happening at Goldman, but I really need to put myself out there.

Dimple Patel: I need a simple business model. I needed room to fail and I needed something that was quite physical, I wanted to be out. I didn't want to be in my house building on the side. I really needed to put myself out there, but I didn't have a huge amount of money. So, you know, I was very junior on the training floor.

Dimple Patel: Bonuses weren't a thing at all at that point. And I had no track record, you know, I didn't have the contacts to go and get funding, who was going to throw a bunch of money behind somebody like me. I was 23 years old. So, you know, in the middle of a recession. There are a lot of businesses that have failed and you can pick a failed business up for [00:13:00] almost nothing.

Dimple Patel: So that's the route that I decided to look at. And so all of that kind of came together in terms of kind of Koffee shops, which were stores that another Koffee chain had shut down. They're like, these stores don't work anymore. There's no way to make them profitable. We're just going to shut them down and leave them.

Dimple Patel: And that kind of you know, it's like, well, that feels like an easy testing ground if I can take those and if I can make them profitable and I can prove that they work, then that could be the starting point in the foundation to then build this out and grow it further. But obviously I had quite a, you know.

Dimple Patel: comfortable job at Goldman. So I had my bets and I decided to do both. I wouldn't recommend that particular constellation of banking and a second business to anybody. 

Amardeep Parmar: I was just  thinking, how would you run a Koffee shop? Cause you said in the person side was also working on the trading floor. Like you'd have to be in two places at once.

Dimple Patel: Yeah. So I, Saturday, Sunday, I would be on the, on the shop floor. I would [00:14:00] get there at 7am. I would be there with the staff, serving the customers, et cetera. And really got to know them. You know, I built those relationships. We really built that team. I had never managed a person in my life and I was hiring people twice my age.

Dimple Patel: And I just went about it as, you know, we're in this together. Look, we're trying to build something for the local community. We really over indexed on the product and customer service. Those were kind of the two key pieces. And what I found over time was that that built an ownership mindset in my staff, that Monday to Friday I could check in with them, but they ran it as if it was their own.

Dimple Patel: And that I would say is probably one of the most important lessons that I learned about kind of building teams and people and working together is establishing that. That ownership mindset and they did a fantastic job. You know, they, they were there Monday to Friday. I would always go in religiously every weekend.

Dimple Patel: And over time we, we built them back up. [00:15:00] It took us, I'd say about eight, eight to nine months to kind of reach that point of profitability. And then beyond that, it was just, okay, how can we grow this? What does expansion look like? I then got to a point where we secured five new sites, but they were with quite big landlords.

Dimple Patel: So we're talking Westfield, London. Those kind, you know, the kind of things where you need funding and you need to do it properly. So that's when I, um, handed in my resignation at Goldman and decided to, to go in full time, raise some funds, and then just kind of took it from there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Well, what's really interesting to me there is how, so you said you were 23.

Dimple Patel: Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And I just can't imagine many people I know who are 23, I was actually from a corporate background as well. How somebody would do the same job as me, then at the weekends run a Koffee shop that they'd never run before, that didn't have a family background in Koffee shops, or anything like that, and Did the people around you know about it?

Amardeep Parmar: Maybe not in Goldman, but even your friends, or what did, how is it like the people around you, were they supportive? Did you get that, were like egging you [00:16:00] on? 

Dimple Patel: So... I had, I would say I had a small head start in the sense that my parents had sold their corner shops and started moving into kind of Koffee shops and, and that kind of thing, um, in the north, they kind of got it, but they, it was more of a sense of, you know, for them, Indian parents, you know, got married, you've got a good job, but you know, you've got to have babies one day.

Dimple Patel: And if you have babies, you have to be there for your babies. So do something to make sure that you are around. So I think that was kind of the way that my parents were approaching it. My friends thought I was absolutely crazy. They were like, you've got the golden ticket here. What are you doing? You know, you're a female trader on the Goldman Sachs trading floor and you're cleaning toilets and making Koffees on the weekend.

Dimple Patel: Like, honestly, like, do you know how many people would kill for what you have? And they just did not get it. They're like, what makes you think you can do this? What makes you think it's going to be successful? But I mean [00:17:00] I can just be really stubborn at times once I set my mind to something It is just laser focus of I am going to make this work and i'm going to make this happen now the fact that I was still doing both meant that you know, if the Koffee thing didn't work out, I hadn't given up my job or anything like I still had that as a safety net, but you just can't let, you can't let that sway you.

Dimple Patel: And I think to some degree, you know, that whole entrepreneurship tech VC piece hadn't even really kicked off at that point. So at that point it was just really risky to go starting businesses in your early twenties. Like what was that about? And it probably was, but I think I've always been a learner.

Dimple Patel: I've always wanted to learn new things. And my time at Goldman had taught me so much. I mean, my learning curve was ridiculous, but then when that flattened off, it was like, okay, well, I need that. I need that learning from somewhere else. And even if this business fails, [00:18:00] I haven't lost a huge amount of money because I didn't have much to put in to begin with, but I will have experience that I'm then able to apply to whatever I do next, and I think

Dimple Patel: the whole way through. And I think even to some degree now, I focus so much on the things that I don't know, or the things that I don't have. And I don't know if that's because when you're younger, you spend so much time going, I don't know how those people do what they do, or, you know, I have less than other people and I just, there's always been this kind of urge to catch up.

Dimple Patel: Starting that business was always about the experience, just knowing in the back of my head that like, if everything went south, I had my education to fall back on, which was a lot more than my parents had. If it meant I had to stack shelves in shame freeze for a little while, I would happily do that because I grew up doing that.

Dimple Patel: So I think a lot of my upbringing also just normalized what other people would call failure. Because for me, it wasn't failure. [00:19:00] It was a few steps backwards to where I came from. And then we go forward again. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. So your worst case scenario was actually something you've already done, so you, you are familiar with it, right?

Amardeep Parmar: A lot of people were scared of that worst case scenario 'cause they'd never been in that world before. But you obviously then grew like the Koffee shop chain, like further and further and eventually it got acquired. How has that process, 'cause like I said, you're building it as your test business and then you scaled it.

Amardeep Parmar: You were in Westfield. All this amazing stuff happening.. What made you then decide to sell it? Was there an offer coming in or did you think, okay, I want to move on from this? How did that come about? 

Dimple Patel: Yea, So we, how did we get to 37 stores nationwide? So, you know, there was a, there was a really good amount of growth.

Dimple Patel: A lot of people don't know that there was a failed acquisition along the way. So that would have been the exit. And then the BHS situation happened and that spooked them and that fell through. I mean, it took me a huge amount, but we'd reached a point where it had just become a rollout strategy. We had the blueprint for the business, the foundation [00:20:00] was laid, the brand was growing.

Dimple Patel: I had had two children while I was doing that, but I wasn't as interested in just you know, templated rollouts, I wanted a problem to solve. So I think I'd got to a point where, you know, I wanted to move on, try something new, do something a little bit different. And actually the private equity inquiry came in at just the right point.

Dimple Patel: And it's, it's almost like, you know, the timing just aligned. It was the right thing to do. So I moved ahead, sold that. And then when we sat point again of what should I do next? And that's where, that's where I came across Trouva. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And  for people who wouldn't imagine, so maybe they're starting their own business, but they wouldn't even imagine getting acquired one day like that.

Amardeep Parmar: Was that, I guess, because you're a Goldman, that was a bit more normalized in working with private equity. Was it quite intimidating? Because you had to, obviously, I wouldn't imagine, if people are trying to put a price on what you're doing, you're trying to do the valuation and all those contracts, it must be a lot to deal with.

Amardeep Parmar: But did Goldman, I guess, help you because you'd had the [00:21:00] experience of that kind of environment and not the same, but at least some 

Dimple Patel: skin in the game. Dealing with those personalities, I think, I think one way to put it, I think that definitely did help. I think what you need to remember, and it's very easy to get intimidated in these situations is when you have built a business, you know, that business

Dimple Patel: better than anybody else knows your business. Now, somebody that comes in and ask questions, obviously more than welcome to do that. They're trying to understand your business. They're trying to put a number on it. And obviously that's where it can become quite an emotive conversation of, you know, what that number should be.

Dimple Patel: But as long as you kind of ground yourself in facts, you ground yourself in the numbers, um, and try and extract the emotion from it. It's almost understanding it from their perspective because ultimately it's a negotiation and the most successful way to approach a negotiation is really to put yourself in the other person's shoes and find out a way to

Dimple Patel: make them feel like they've got an outcome that they wanted and [00:22:00] guide the conversation to get there. And I think probably one of the things that helped me the most was just supplier relationships through building the business, negotiating with them, negotiating with landlords, obviously all of kind of the business knowledge that I had built into me still doesn't make it an easy process.

Dimple Patel: So, you know, acquisitions are hard and I think so many people glamorize them because everything is just focused on the outcome. But the work that goes into it, the process that you are put through and all the ups and downs of them, it's really, really challenging. I think what helped at that point though, because I was so sure in my mind that it was the right time to leave, it wasn't a case of, there wasn't a doubt.

Dimple Patel: There wasn't a case of, well, should I maybe hold out and somebody would just pay me just a little bit more? If I just, you know, add another five stores or another 10 stores, will that change the narrative? And, you know. It's a good exit. It was great. I mean, I was still what, early thirties at the time, [00:23:00] but really taught me a lot about what that process looks like.

Amardeep Parmar: I like the point you made there as well about how it's, I think whenever there's a big acquisition or something like that, it's the same skills you use, like you said, for landlord and suppliers. So there's skills that people have right now are listening, those stack up. So while it's just, it's scary doing something like that for the first time, you said, like you said, you had the skills already there and a lot of people listening will have the skills potentially to go through the same thing because everybody has to do it for the first time sometime if they're going to do an acquisition.

Amardeep Parmar: And I really like that point you made there about how, because I think it's very relatable. A lot of people will be doing the smaller scale negotiations, but that will then help you do the bigger scale stuff. And then looking at Trouva obviously, so it's been in the news recently, some very good news you've had there.

Amardeep Parmar: What made you get into it? Because obviously it was a very early startup. There's a lot of risk involved there. What, well, for people who don't know, what does Trouva do first of all? And then why did you join? 

Dimple Patel: Yeah, sure. So [00:24:00] Trouva is a marketplace, a tech marketplace for independent bricks and mortar businesses.

Dimple Patel: So it's quite boutique- y. So it's very, very curated. Beautiful products across homewares, lifestyle and fashion. We're now at the point where we're working with partners across kind of 13 European countries. We help these kind of family owned businesses list their products. We manage everything from order placement through to logistics.

Dimple Patel: And we shipped to 50 countries globally as well. So it scaled quite a bit from when I joined. But in terms of what attracted me to it, so I guess actually a theme

Dimple Patel: has been fairly consistent from The Koffee business through to this was it's all about supporting independent retail. So our differentiator with the Koffee business was that we were independent. We were handmade, we were artisan, which is obviously, you know, very in fashion now in Koffee, but, you know, we, we were very early on that trajectory and Trouva did exactly that.

Dimple Patel: So, you know, whereas there we [00:25:00] were fighting with the costas and the Starbucks and the Nero's. You know, we have businesses here, they're fighting with the high street giants and they didn't have access to the online market. So we were giving them that additional sales channel. We were giving them access to an audience that they had no way of reaching because of the complexity involved.

Dimple Patel: And I think for me, that was kind of, I guess, the more mission driven aspect of it was to continue helping these businesses and, and really kind of adding color. to retail, but it's also a fantastic product now and scaling a Koffee business is really tough. It's really hands on. The actual scaling aspect is long.

Dimple Patel: It's quite manual. It's really intensive. And what became really clear, particularly with all of the growth in technology is how technology helps boost that scale, um, and [00:26:00] helps you achieve in, in two years, which in so many other industries could take 10 or 15. So I knew when I left, I wanted to move into technology.

Dimple Patel: I just didn't know where, I didn't know what, and I'd say Trouva was a little bit of serendipity to be honest. So I met one of the co-founders. Just kind of asking him for a bit of advice and tech and we got talking about Trouva and, you know, one thing led to another, he was like, we're not hiring for a role, but you should come work with us.

Dimple Patel: And I met them all. They were a fantastic team. I love the energy. I loved what they were doing. Yes, it was risky. But I also knew that I would learn a huge amount again. So I think that element of risk felt like it had a reward, even if that reward wasn't financial or, you know, when you join, you're not thinking in five years I'm going to exit on, on X, but it's like, this throws out a whole bunch of new challenges that I've never

Dimple Patel: faced before, and also a group of people that I've been like, I haven't worked with [00:27:00] for a very long time, you know? So it was really about throwing myself back into that space and starting to build again, but in a completely different environment. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you're all that grew into the COO role, right? And for people thinking about doing something like that themselves, maybe they don't want to

Amardeep Parmar: be found some themselves who want to join a business and help them scale and to do the operations side of things. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced while at Trouva and like how did you overcome them?

Dimple Patel:  Well, when I look back over the last two years, we faced COVID, um, where, you know, we had 800 shops.All facing completely different lockdown restrictions. Completely different situations for the family.

Dimple Patel: Um, and we, we had a situation where our business was effectively going to be shut down overnight because we couldn't access any of our stock. So it's like taking those boutiques and, you know, working out how do we keep our business open? How do we keep trading? And five minutes after we'd worked out that solution, actually the e commerce.

Dimple Patel: Boom happened from [00:28:00] everyone working from home. So it's that, that, you know, situation of one day being like, Oh my goodness, we're going to have to shut down to the next day going, well, it's like Christmas because orders have gone through the roof, like the pace of scale. And also then the next year we faced Brexit and, you know, being an

Dimple Patel: incredibly international cross border business building the technology to be able to continue facilitating everything that we do with all of the uncertainty that came with Brexit and the deal, et cetera. So I think one thing that I would say has probably classified my last three years at Trouva is a huge amount of uncertainty.

Dimple Patel: It's made me think quite a lot about my trading floor days, to be honest. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you miss the trading floor days now?

Dimple Patel: No, but I've definitely grown on them. But I think the macro environment has been really difficult for everybody. And I think anybody that is running their own business right now, 2022 will not have been any different.

Dimple Patel: And I think it's just made really clear that building businesses, your [00:29:00] path is so nonlinear. You don't know what's going to be coming up on a day to day basis. And I think The key that I found with Trouva was the team that I was doing it with were just incredible. And there was that real sense of kind of being in it together, everybody collaborating, everybody supporting each other.

Dimple Patel: That really kind of, now I was saying earlier about the importance of people and how different people work and watching them all come together to solve those problems. So I'd say that particularly at Trouva has been some of the key things that I've learned in my time there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Trouva scaled massively, right?

Amardeep Parmar: So you raised quite significant amount of funding. 

Dimple Patel:Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then you went through quite an interesting acquisition process as well. Could you tell us a bit about that? 

Dimple Patel: Yes. Trouva raised 40 million through the whole scaling process. COVID was really great for us. And then 2021, we kicked off an acquisition process.

Dimple Patel: May 2022, we announced that we had sold the business to made. com, which at the time. Fantastic, fantastic exit. The acquisition made so much sense strategically. We were really aligned. [00:30:00] It was going to help us leapfrog quite a lot of growth as well. Obviously, made had a massive customer, customer reach as well.

Dimple Patel: Obviously that didn't go to plan. Four months later, in a very, very public way. Made had collapsed. And I think when you think, think about the rollercoaster that the team had been on and all of our boutiques, we've gone from this absolute high in Made of we've been acquired, we have all of these growth plans, we're going to enter new markets like the US.

Dimple Patel: Four months later, being told to shut down because the group was insolvent, it had run out of money, potentially everybody was going to be out of their jobs. Making that call with the team was one of the hardest things that I have ever done to break that news. As a publicly listed company, things were hitting the newspapers before we were able to tell the team.

Dimple Patel: And just that messaging of being like, the group is you know, it's closing down. I don't even know at this point what that means for you, your jobs, all of these family owned [00:31:00] businesses that we work with, and also being in those board meetings where you're being told that you can't trade anymore. And there's no playbook for this.

Dimple Patel: Like I've never been in an administration scenario before, but also when it's, you know, when our business is still healthy and it's still solvent, but the group isn't, I had no idea what to do. And I remember at that point, just drawing on basic logic of. You know, my business is sound, it's, it's healthy, we have runway.

Dimple Patel: So I'm just going to go into the board meeting and say no, and then see what happens, which is exactly what we did. You know, it's going in and saying, well, our business is great, so we're not going to shut down. We actually think since, you know, you bought it four months ago, that there is value and that there is somebody else that may want to buy it going forward.

Dimple Patel: And if you do end up in an administration scenario. If we're trading, we could be your most valuable asset. So help us find a new, like, let us find a new [00:32:00] home for this business. We'll manage the whole process. We'll do everything. Just give us a time to be able to do that. And thankfully they did, you know, they, they believed in us and we ran a full M& A process again, right over kind of the peak Christmas period last year and completed the second sale in six months of the same company, the afternoon of the 23rd of December.

Dimple Patel: And we've been given until the end of the year, so just made it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it's obviously such an incredible story, but I know it's so soon that you're not allowed to talk about it too much. So what I want to do is get you on again in six months time or something like that, and like really dive into that in particular, because it's such an interesting story, but I just know you're obviously legally bound in different ways.

Amardeep Parmar: So like, thank you so much for sharing your story today. I'm gonna have to jump into a quick five questions now. First one is, can you tell us three British Asians you'd love to shout out who you think are doing incredible work that you think people should be paying attention to? 

Dimple Patel: I'm going to start actually quite close to home.

Dimple Patel: So my husband, Vikesh Patel, he's obviously been with me through this whole journey and super supportive through the roller coaster. [00:33:00] But he's doing some great work. So he runs Patisserie Valerie and Baker and Baristas. So Patisserie Valerie, they took, again, another turnaround business. They took that out of administration.

Dimple Patel: A huge amount of work that they're putting in there, um, to grow that business. So some really, really great things happening there. The second, you've had Reece on the show. So I work with Reece as a venture partner for his fund. They're doing some really fantastic work in terms of diversity, really opening up opportunities to underrepresented founders as well.

Dimple Patel: Great work. Definitely follow Concept Ventures. And then the third one. Is Nilesh Dosa. Now, Nilesh has an amazing story that he runs a social enterprise called I Can, You Can Too, that works with young people who don't have access to kind of mentorship opportunities and it helps them navigate that whole world of Interviews and university and career path very focused on East London at the moment, but I've been working with them for a couple of years and they completely [00:34:00] change these young people's lives.

Dimple Patel: So yeah, some fantastic work happening there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. I love to hear all their stories. And next question is for people listening right now, you might want to reach out for guidance. What could they reach out about?

Dimple Patel: Definitely navigating a business through a crisis, you know, any challenges around acquisition processes.

Dimple Patel: A lot of the work that I do with new founders and new businesses is things like validating operating models, go to market study that I'm more than happy to talk about kind of early stage businesses. But I would say particularly building good teams and taking those teams through difficult situations. I, I'd love to help anybody who is facing those challenges.

Amardeep Parmar: And on the flip side, what's something you need help with right now?

Dimple Patel: I would love just interesting conversations with people about where they think the world of work is going, where they think, you know, particularly within tech, but also other industries, like there's a lot of change happening at the moment.

Dimple Patel: So I think I'm going back to having been through 2022, a lot of [00:35:00] acquisition activity, just looking up into the world and understanding a little bit more about what is happening out there. What are some of the changes that we're seeing and how might five years from now look. So anybody that is kind of in that space that's, you know, happy to share their experiences, I would love to hear about, love to hear about that.

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much again for coming on. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Dimple Patel: Anybody that is looking or unsure about starting a business, just dive in, just get going. The best way to learn or to validate something is just to give it a go. It always seems really daunting before you take the first step, but it teaches you so much about who you are as well.

Dimple Patel: So just go for it.

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