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Building The Revolutionary One-Stop Marketplace For The South Asian Diaspora

Tarny Athwal


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Building The Revolutionary One-Stop Marketplace For The South Asian Diaspora

Tarny Athwal



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Tarny Athwal
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About Tarny Athwal

The BAE HQ welcomes Tarny Athwal, the Founder and Managing Director of DesiCity, which is a one-stop marketplace for buying and selling anything South Asian.

Tarny experimented with many different ideas which taught him hard lessons before starting DesiCity.

It all started with not being able to find a manja online. Now DesiCity have raised millions, have thousands of sellers on their platform and have global ambitions.

Tarny tells it how it is and you can learn so much from his story!

Tarny Athwal


Show Notes

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Tarny Athwal Full Transcript

Tarny Athwal: [00:00:00] I've never looked back thinking, what if? I think I made all my mistakes before with the Crypto, the Forex, and the Directory and I'm no longer thinking, what do I need to do to get by, it's what do I need to do to blow this up. If I hadn't left my job, I would not be in this position right now where I've raised money now for this.

Tarny Athwal: I've raised multiple seven figures now. We're the first and only ones to have built it, and we're the only ones who are still here and I'm not gonna lie, and I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, it is a great feeling. You know that you need something that's tied into the desi. You come to Desi City. Don't support Desi City, support your South Asian businesses.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the Bae HQ, where we inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asians. If you watch 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 Tarny Athwal, who's the founder and CEO of Desi City.

Amardeep Parmar: It's an online e commerce platform for South Asian businesses. How are you doing today?

Tarny Athwal: I'm good, thanks. I'm all good, thank you. [00:01:00] Glad to be here. 

Amardeep Parmar: Thanks for making the drive down as well. 

Tarny Athwal: No, not two years. It's only three hours. So nothing to cry about. It's fine. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. Good. Good. Yeah. We'll work for obviously.

Tarny Athwal: Yeah.  We'll find out in 30 minutes. 

Amardeep Parmar: So when you were growing up, right, did you ever think you'd be starting a business and doing what you're doing today? Like, did you have that kind of belief in yourself? 

Tarny Athwal: To be honest, it wasn't something I thought about when I was growing up. I mean, I was going to be a professional footballer.

Tarny Athwal: I'm not going to lie. That was the plan. My family and my circle, my extended family around me weren't necessarily business people. So it's not something that came to mind. It's just, it basically was just. A series of opportunities that came to me. And I think maybe after I got married and realized how expensive it is to be married, I was like, okay, I need to do something else now.

Tarny Athwal: At that point, I was looking at different opportunities and I, it was only then I really wanted to work for myself. So I tried to, I tried a directory site first and then I went to doing stocks and Forex and crypto customers, get rich quick schemes, whatever, but I enjoyed it. I was no good at it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So with  a professional football background, right?

Amardeep Parmar: When you say that, did you mean that you dreamed about being, or you're [00:02:00] on that path and you're being really serious about it?

Tarny Athwal: No, no, no. I was never good enough. I had trials at Cov, and that's always been my claim to fame. I had trials at Cov, and then this was when I was about 10, and then it just went all downhill from there.

Tarny Athwal: So it was never going to happen. But no, that was just a, it's a pipe dream that every lad has. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And what did you go into at university and what's your plans there?

Tarny Athwal: So at uni I studied computers and networking. From there I worked for a software as a service company as a service desk support agent, basically.

Tarny Athwal: And then from there I became a network engineer, worked for the NHS and then went on to do project IT project management for NHS and higher education. And I've been doing that for up to about 10 years before I then left full time work to focus on Desi city. So always been in the IT realm, always then, which led me into managing teams and people and taking a concept and building that concept out, delivering it and then seeing it through to the end.

Amardeep Parmar: Did  you enjoy that role? Like how did you actually find it? Because you said about working for yourself later on, did that come out of not really enjoying what you're doing? Or just [00:03:00] wanting  more freedom?

Tarny Athwal:No, I loved it. So what I found was being on service desk or being a network engineer, it's very much a list of tasks that you have to complete.

Tarny Athwal: And it's very much behind a screen. Not interact with too many people. I just have to get the job done. Wi Fi is down or we need to onboard a new site or whatever it might be. And so that was fun. But then as I was doing that role, I started engaging with more people. And I was always quite like a loud character in the office, I'd say.

Amardeep Parmar: I don't believe that. 

Tarny Athwal: Well, no, actually, people around me wouldn't say that either. Actually. No, but it was, I was quite a loud character. And then I got on well with not a lot of people in my team, but people around me as well. People that I'll be meeting on site. It was really good. And so that then took me on to, okay, maybe I need a role that's more people orientated rather than you Technical and my technical skills are good, but maybe not as good to take me that far as well.

Tarny Athwal: But I really enjoy the people side of things. So that's when I spoke to a couple of project managers and they were talking to actually, maybe you would be suited more to project manager. So while I was a technical engineer, then I self taught myself project management. So I had to do the Prince two [00:04:00] core.

Tarny Athwal: So I learned that. Start shadowing project managers. This was at my time at the NHS and they were really good. They allowed me to take the time to shadow people to learn from them. And then an opportunity came up for a full time role. So then I applied and fortunately I was able to get the role and then I loved it.

Tarny Athwal: I'm not going to lie. Then it was all about people. Project management is people management and that's where I really learned. How different people interact differently. So when I worked at places, you, everybody gets treated the same. There's one set of rules for everybody. That's it. But it didn't work in projects because everybody's so different people.

Tarny Athwal: Some people want to be emailed. Some people don't mind you walk up to their desk. Some people don't want you to bother them to send them a list of stuff and they'll do it. Everybody's differently where I can have a joke with somebody about one thing. I could never mention that to somebody else, but all they all just want to be respected, treated like an individual.

Tarny Athwal: And then to be fair, most of my projects went to time to schedule and they went really well and everybody on the team really enjoyed working on it. That was the most important thing. And [00:05:00] that's why projects went quite well. I guess you just learn so much more about people and that was a fun thing. So that's why project management just came quite naturally.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. I think I have a similar background in some way by working on the technical stuff first. I did it by accident. Didn't mean to do it. But from there, it gives you that good foundation to understand a lot of the tech stuff. So when you do project management or you lead teams, you have the understanding of what's actually going on too.

Tarny Athwal: Exactly. 

Amardeep Parmar: And it gives you a different perspective as well. 

Tarny Athwal: Yeah. And even so, even when the technical guys are trying to feed you some, some rubbish, there's something gone wrong. You're like, actually, no, I know that's a load of lies. So yeah, no, it's good from that side as well. 

Amardeep Parmar:Obviously   I was as an entrepreneur, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because for example, for the new website, we can just build it or we know what to do enough to do to be able to keep people honest. Yeah. Whereas for an average business, they hire somebody to build the website. You don't know what it costs, right? You don't know how hard it is. You like, even like a previous guest, right?

Amardeep Parmar: We had a call with him last week and he was saying, well, there's a problem with website and they're telling us we can't do it. It's like, that's easy. Here's the code. Go and do it. But if you don't know that it's really difficult. And having that technical background and a people background obviously really makes a huge difference.

Amardeep Parmar: And you tried a few different businesses first, right? [00:06:00] 

Tarny Athwal:  Yeah. 

Amardeep Parmar:What was some of the more interesting ones you found where you learned a lot from them and that helped inform what you did later on? 

Tarny Athwal: So I tried to start a directory site for Asian businesses and it went quite well, but it just wasn't really an appetite for it so I built the platform.

Tarny Athwal: I contact lots of business to get them. I think about three four hundred businesses on there. It was a free service, but it just didn't take off the way I wanted. I'm not sure if that was timing I don't know if I because I didn't have the right push behind it as well. But It didn't really take off. And so I learned a lot from maybe mistakes I've made.

Tarny Athwal: It left a lot of thoughts in my mind. How could I have done differently? That then was kind of put aside. Then I looked at doing Forex and crypto. So I started trading Forex and like, I was not successful. Don't get me wrong. You know, these stats and these figures, you make all this money. I don't know who's making all that money.

Tarny Athwal: It definitely wasn't me and my wife can guarantee back that up as others. Definitely wasn't us, but there's no Lambos on my drive. So it didn't really do too well with the Forex stuff. Then it kind of moved on to, okay, maybe crypto. So we, I did invest in some crypto, me and my brother did. And so we're still holding onto these coins.

Tarny Athwal: [00:07:00] Obviously there's been a bit of a bit of a crash right now as well, but we're holding on and holding onto hope with that as well. But everything was slightly different. Everything taught me something else. And it's just a game of knowledge, isn't it? It's acquiring knowledge from your mistakes more than anything that you do well.

Tarny Athwal: So, so yeah, it was, it was very big learning curse. 

Amardeep Parmar: What did you learn from the director of business? Cause how hard is it to stop that as well? Because if you've got three or 500 people on it, you think, okay, so it's got traction. It's getting somewhere, but to give up on that and decide, actually, this isn't what's going to go for the future.

Amardeep Parmar: Was that a hard decision or was it quite easy for you to let go?

Tarny Athwal: It was, it was an easy decision because it felt like the right decision. That was the thing. So I put a lot of time and effort into it and we put my own money into it to get it going. I spent a lot of time building it mornings, evenings, phone calls, and like it was going well.

Tarny Athwal: But as the business was going on, I really, I couldn't see where this was going long term. That was the thing. Fine. You could probably get some advertising out of it and monetize it that way. But where was the scale? That was a question. So I [00:08:00] think as soon as I realized that, and it, and it takes you to step back from your business because, you know, you're working on something, you become very passionate, very engrossed and very blinkered.

Tarny Athwal: So I stepped away and I was like, what's the scale on this? And there really wasn't scale. There wasn't, I wouldn't be changing anything. I wouldn't be, because there's other directories out there. So it didn't feel like stepping away was the wrong decision. It genuinely felt like the right decision. In some ways it felt, you know, it lifted some sort of pressure off as well.

Tarny Athwal: I was like, okay. It's the right decision. So I've never looked back thinking what if, and that's a big thing. I don't ever want to walk away from something thinking I didn't give it a hundred percent. Same with the forex, same with the crypto, the directory side, none of that. I look back on, I think I didn't give it a hundred percent.

Tarny Athwal: I just know it wasn't right, or I wasn't good enough. And so that's something I'm happy to hold my hands up to. If I'm not good enough, I'm not good enough. 

Amardeep Parmar: And where  did the idea from Desi City come from? 

Tarny Athwal: So that all started with a Manja, an Indian folding bed, basically. So, uh, it was a few years after I was married and I just,

Tarny Athwal: It just came. I wanted to buy a Manja. I wanted a manja in my house. I wanted to sit on a [00:09:00] manja. I wanted to sit on a Manja, the garden. So I went online and I just couldn't find one. So I was like, I was talking to my mom, and so I told her, mom, I really want a Manja. I can't find one anywhere. I'm from Coventry.

Tarny Athwal: So she's like, go to Furza Road and have a look. I was a bit too lazy to do that, I'm not gonna lie. And then a week later, my mom turns up at my house and she's holding a Manja on her hands. I'm like, Oh, wicked. Where did you get all this out from? She went to South hall to pick one up and drove all the way back home with it.

Tarny Athwal: Just because I said I wanted to mentor, just told her, and I was like, this is wicked. Like you couldn't, you know, that's the best moment. I was like, brilliant. But I was like, this should be so much easier than that. And then I was like, well, why can't I buy it online? Why is there not one place I can just get whatever this is stuff I want from.

Tarny Athwal: And then after just doing a bit of research, there was no sites. Doing what Desi City now does. So there was no platform and then it literally all started with a Manja. And then from there, the concept built, and then I started doing research and building out how it could operate, how it could work. And then it just went on from there.

Amardeep Parmar: Like you said, your day job at this point as well, right? 

Tarny Athwal: Yes. Yeah. So I only left my [00:10:00] day job, which is working at the NHS as a project manager, uh, at the start of December, 2021. So up until then, Desi City was being built by myself. I'd built the platform. Work to develop it. And the hours I was putting in was I was waking up around four in the morning to get up and do a bit of work.

Tarny Athwal: Then I'd go to work, come home, spend a bit time in the evening, hang with my, my wife for a little bit, maybe go football or play or go gym. But I would work around that and it was early mornings, late nights to, to get it to where needs to go. And that was going on for about a year, a year of working on something that hasn't launched that has gotten zero traction.

Tarny Athwal: That, I dunno what's gonna happen with. But this was something I really thought could change, change things. This was a change with the directory site. It was going to be another directory site and I can make it good. I can make it better, but it wasn't going to change anything. Desi City  is going to change the way e commerce happens for South Asian and Desi people here in the UK at the moment.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah.And how did you get those initial people on the platform? So did you build up? How long was [00:11:00] the time for actually developing the platform before you could start bringing people on? 

Tarny Athwal: Yeah. So  I'd say it was about, it's about 18 months up until of development. So about six months of my own time, then I needed some changes made that were too technical for me to make.

Tarny Athwal: So I went to an agency in Birmingham. And they did a great sales pitch of telling me why it was on a good site and how they can make it better. And I was like, cool, take all my money. Then no worries. So, uh, they did a great job and they're still building the CC for us now. Very, very close. We work like one family, which is great.

Tarny Athwal: So they then took it and it's about a year of development. Uh, so about 18 months before we launched and we launched, uh, in late December, 2021. So we've just hit just that we're just over one year old now. So yeah, about 18 months and then a year, a year from there to now. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then how did you get  the first people on the platform to trust what you were doing?

Tarny Athwal: Yeah, that, that was very difficult. So during the development stage, I went around Birmingham and commentary in a few other places on the Midlands, just talking to shop owners. And all I got was a resounding, not interested, not interested, not interested. And so [00:12:00] I can understand why that would put people off.

Tarny Athwal: But to me, I was like, they just don't understand this. They don't get this. So I kept building it. And when I hired my first member of the Desi City team, three months before we launched, she still was now Priya. And she worked alongside me to bring on the first few sellers. And it was just a case of pitching to them what Desi City is right now.

Tarny Athwal: So just being completely honest and telling them where we're going to take Desi City. And I'll be honest, the first 10, we launched with 10 businesses and 200 products. Every single one of them is still a seller on Desi City now. And every single one of them said that they believe in the vision of Desi City.

Tarny Athwal: Not just that, but they loved what me and Priya, the energy we came and how we talked to them. Some of these calls were made over zoom, Google meet, whatever that, whatever the video calling software was, but over there, some was in person. But every single one of them love the concept, love the idea. We weren't the first ones to come up with the concept, but we're the first and only ones to have built it.

Tarny Athwal: And we're the only ones who are still here. And I realized why not? ‘Cause it's a big task. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's one of the things [00:13:00] that people underestimate is almost to have a successful business. It has to be hard. Otherwise, everybody would just do it. And what's your advantage? Why are you going to do it? Why is it gonna be successful?

Amardeep Parmar: And obviously you sticking out, you having a technical background, you having a project management background. And then you mentioned there, I saw your first employee. That's one of the hardest decisions for so many businesses. How did you pick her? What made you bring her on board? 

Tarny Athwal: So I interviewed quite a lot of people for that first role and Priya stood out and it wasn't, it had nothing to do, and I mean very respectfully, nothing to do with skill or experience.

Tarny Athwal: She was just a great person and her personality aligned with mine. And her personality and character aligned with what I want Desi city to be about. And it's very open, very transparent. And she was just very driven. And I was like, okay, great. Cool. Come on board. That was it. And it was just one brief, I think it was about a half hour meeting that we had.

Tarny Athwal: And we were talking about this because we've just hired now our fifth member of the team. And we were just talking about her interview. And she's like, you hardly asked me any like typical interview questions. I just wanted [00:14:00] to know more about her. And that's all I was interested in. And it's a testament because she's a key member of the team and you're right, it is the hardest decision to make.

Tarny Athwal: But I think if you get it right and you hire somebody with the right values, it can be the best decision you make as well. 

Amardeep Parmar: And what goes with those 10 businesses, right, UFC, that's one part of the problem is getting business on there. But they're getting people to actually buy from that website.

Amardeep Parmar: It's another problem. How did you go about that? 

Tarny Athwal: I'll be honest. That's probably the most difficult bit because we're a new platform. We're a new brand and nobody knows us. So, and we're online, which makes it very difficult to trust us. We've all heard of internet scams and how people have lost money.

Tarny Athwal: That's the biggest fear when using this, you see. So we made sure we partnered with Stripe as our payment merchant. They're used by Deliveroo and a number of other worldwide brands. So that's the trust and the payment side of stuff. And we make sure we have a very close relationship with every seller that joins.

Tarny Athwal: One of the team is always in touch with them, whether that's a Google meet call initially, whether that's emails, whether that's phone calls, they reach us out, they reach out to us on Instagram, WhatsApp. [00:15:00] We're always open to our sellers and we've actually built out the CCE features based on feedback we've got from our sellers.

Tarny Athwal: So it's not like they're another number. So we've developed that trust of our sellers, but to get sales on board, it was developing that same level of trust. So like I said, we had to incorporate the right technology and just be consistent. We had to consistently keep bringing on sellers with a marketplace platform.

Tarny Athwal: It's very difficult because sellers wants to join when there's a lot of traffic and sales, but customers will only bring the traffic when there's lots of sellers and products. And we explained this problem to every single seller, but we said, we're going after the sellers first to bring them on. And the customers will come on.

Tarny Athwal: I'm not going to like sales initially were very difficult to come by. But what we're seeing is over time, sales are increasing. They've become more and more frequent. Traffic is increasing nicely. And to be honest, we have not spent a lot of money on marketing. It's been mostly on development. We've hired some brand ambassadors who are doing a great job for us to raise awareness in The Desi City brand and the sellers on our, on our platform.

Tarny Athwal: But now this year [00:16:00] is a big marketing push where we'll see a big change in where people see Desi City, how often they're seeing Desi City, the trust that they can have in Desi City. We're still here. Nobody's been scammed. Nobody's lost money. And our initial sellers that came on board at Desi City are still there.

Amardeep Parmar: So you know there’s scamming, right? How difficult is it when you put so much effort in yourself and sometimes people come to like, Oh, how do I know this isn't a scam? And it's like, well, you just, are you calling me a scammer? How do you deal with that kind of conversation. So if you want to do it in a respectful way, but it's obviously a difficult skill, right?

Tarny Athwal: It must be something to do with my face, but I'm not going to, I see it as a compliment because that line normally come from a seller. That line normally comes after we've told them everything that we, we offer them. The fact that we, whatever our commissions are and all the ways we're going to market and what we're aiming to do.

Tarny Athwal: So when a seller says that to me, I'll take that as a, as a bump. I'll take that as a compliment. I'm like wicked. I'm like, yeah. It's too good to be true, but no, it is true. This is exactly what we offer. This is what we do, and this is what we're going to be doing. And then from a customer's point of view, there's little that we can do to [00:17:00] convince them that we're not a scam in an online presence.

Tarny Athwal: So what we have to keep doing is just being consistent. We have to keep adding more sellers, adding more products, making the platform look better, function better, and keep sending out the right messages and social media and wherever else we are present. And that's the only way we can win people around.

Tarny Athwal: Once people see that we're still there, we haven't disappeared. And eventually they'll know somebody who's bought on Desi city. They'll know some of the sellers on their city, and that will develop the trust of the customers as well. So it's a very difficult task. There's not one thing you can do to answer it.

Tarny Athwal: But it's a level of consistency across a number of different things.

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned it before about scalable businesses, right? And this is one of the things that Desi City is because it was the same network effect. The more people that buy from Desi City, the more other people buy from Desi City, the more sellers are in Desi City, the more other sellers want to be on there.

Amardeep Parmar: But it's the initial bit is the hardest bit, right? Because how do you then prove yourself until you've got that scale? And now you're getting to that stage where more sellers are coming on board because it's going on. As people see the name more. And what's hardest thing at that point is often you've got [00:18:00] pumping on so much of your own money.

Amardeep Parmar: And you, you'd mentioned that you've had a few rounds of investment, right? When that first round come in and what made you decide, okay, this is a time we need to get people to back us. 

Tarny Athwal: Yeah.  So yeah, we've just closed off our second round of investment or coming to close the second round of investment.

Tarny Athwal: And we're very lucky in that sense. And the first one came in around August of 2021, basically all my savings had gone all the money gone. I was looking at selling my, so I've got a car. My wife's got a car. We're looking at selling one of the cars. And it was at that point, we really had to evaluate the CC and say, okay, is this something that I just want to keep?

Tarny Athwal: Running as frugally as possible or with as little money as possible, or can I get somebody to believe in my vision of what the Desi city become can become so I reached out to, and I was very lucky. Actually, I know people looking for investment have to go out to 15, 20, 400 rounds. I only spoke to four or five different investors.

Tarny Athwal: So my business part at the moment, I had a call with him. I explained what the Desi city is. I explained what [00:19:00] it can become and the plan behind it. I was fortunate because this is someone I know personally as well. And It was a one hour phone call, and then at the end of it, he goes, I'm in, he goes, I'm in. And it was a six figure investment at a time, which at that time I was sweating buckets about, I was like, Oh my God, how, how am I going to get five grand out of somebody?

Tarny Athwal: Let alone however much we're asking for. I was like, this is nuts. And so, but I just pitched the idea part because I love the concept. It goes, it's great. I gave him the whole 10 year vision behind it. He was, he's behind it all, but he said something that sounds a bit. Like I'm giving myself a bit of, you know, a bit of bump or whatever, but he's like, I know you, I trust you.

Tarny Athwal: And he goes, I know you've got the energy to drive as well. He goes, it's not only a good idea, but you're the right person to push something like this. And I think he has a plot with him saying, you're just really chatty. You don't shut the hell up. So you, you'll be able to do well in this. And hopefully I'm

Tarny Athwal: proving his case right at the moment. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And it's one of those things as well, where it's what a lot of founders fail on in some ways, because they have an idea that they think is amazing, but they really suck at [00:20:00] explaining why it should be them that does it. And sometimes people are so scared about sharing their idea.

Amardeep Parmar: If you're scared about sharing your idea, you shouldn't be, because you should be the best person to do it. So it doesn't matter if other people are trying to do the same thing. If somebody else is trying to build a Desi city now, you've got the, you've got. ahead of them, you've got a moat, you've got worked out what you're doing.

Amardeep Parmar: So you don't need to be scared of somebody else trying to copy your idea, right? But some people are living in this fear and you mentioned before that there are other people trying to do it before who then gave up early. What kept you going? What made you not give up?

Tarny Athwal: One, I knew what Desi City  can become.

Tarny Athwal: So I know how it can change the way. We buy our Desi products where we do Desi shopping, anything we need. I mean, I'm in Coventry. Most of the time, if we're going to go, we have to go to Birmingham or it's that long trip to South or to get the money out to bring it all back again. It's a long trip. So I know how convenient it can become and how it can change stuff.

Tarny Athwal: It was less about the motivation, more about the discipline behind it. So I knew what this can become. So I stuck at it. I didn't give up when money's run out. I found the money when ,whenever there was something [00:21:00] that was going wrong with Desi City, you see, or there was another problem with Desi City, you see, we just found a way to overcome it.

Tarny Athwal: And as a team group, as a team, we found ways to overcome it. I don't find if someone else is going to start up another, this, you see, it's not a problem. You know, that's not a problem. We're not the only pe, people who have created a marketplace, you got Etsy, you got Not in the High Street, I mean, we're better priced than them.

Tarny Athwal: But other people will come up with a similar concept, it's not a problem. 

Amardeep Parmar: I think where you've got to so far, right, you said like, now you're pushing on the marketing side. And what are the ambitions for DesiCity now, right? Where do you want to get to?

Tarny Athwal: We don't want DesiCity just to be about products, we want to bring on services and booking systems and everything to really create a one stop shop for Desi city.

Tarny Athwal: So you can buy your bindis, your sarees, your, your frameworks, your, your whatever, whatever you need, anything to see. But then you can also book amend the artist hair and makeup, a DJ, whatever you need. And then you can also book your tickets that you need to go to, I don't know, Diljit Dosanjh concert or whatever you need.

Tarny Athwal: It could be anything, but you know that you need something that's tied into the Desi, [00:22:00] you come to Desi City. That's here in the UK. But Desi City, what we are creating is not being done anywhere. So we're taking this abroad. And that's a plan. And that's why we've got investment now to grow the UK team to grow the UK Desi city and then to take Desi out and across the world, basically.

Tarny Athwal: So it's quite ambitious, but like you said, I'm the right person to do it. So it's fine. 

Amardeep Parmar: You said as well, like you've got a quite significant round of investment just come in, right? Yes. How does that feel? Somebody who's the first time founder. So it's one thing to get the money in for the first round, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Which is it's obviously very significant, but second round a lot bigger. How does that feel like validation wise that people are believing in your idea? And is also a pressure element of that as well.

Tarny Athwal: It was a great feeling I'm not gonna lie for about 10 seconds and that's when the pressure hit like you said the pressure land is like I need to really make this work now Because essentially we could consider the first year as a proof of concepts laying down the foundations As soon as that second investment was secured, it was like, brilliant.

Tarny Athwal: Now I've got all this [00:23:00] work to do. It's going to be mad. It's going to be crazy. Yeah. I literally just went straight into planning mode. I was like, right, I need to do this. I need to do this. And that's when we started hiring more members of the team and, and my current team, me, Priya and Tristan, we've always, and Anita and Anisha, we're always throwing around these ideas of what we could do.

Tarny Athwal: Doesn't, we can do it now. There's like, oh, oh shit. I need to stop planning this stuff. And now we actually need to plan it in now. So it was a great thing, but it's a great situation to be in. I'm not going to lie. I feel very blessed, very lucky, very fortunate. And yeah, it's, it's now just changed the way I think I'm no longer thinking.

Tarny Athwal: What do I need to do to get by is what do I need to do to blow this up now? And, and so it's, it's been a slight mentality shift and shift in the way I'm thinking. Yeah. I mean, in terms of pressure, I don't necessarily like pressure is one of the things that kind of gets me. And I know it sounds very big headed, but not in a, not in a big headed way.

Tarny Athwal: It's just precious. Another thing to deal with. It's cool. If I hadn't left my job, I would not be in this position right now where I've raised money now for this. I haven't raised multiple seven figures now for Desi City. You see, I haven't. I wouldn't be sat here with you, you know, a part of the [00:24:00] BAE nation on, on, on the BAE  podcast.

Tarny Athwal: But, you know, I'm so fortunate and I'm lucky. So every pressure is just another opportunity that I would never have had 18 months ago. So I'll just feel very lucky to have that problem to deal with. And it's a very good problem to have, and it's just a pressure now. So we have to win. I am now very much entrusted with that money, with the team, with the people, with the sellers, with the people who are already buying or thinking about the Des City.

Tarny Athwal: I have to make sure the platform's great for customers and sellers. We have to make sure the marketing is on point. We have to make sure that we grow adequately, that my investors are feeling happy with how we're developing and what we're doing. So it's just a great problem to have. And I don't mind having it if I'm honest.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And you mentioned about growing up the team there, right? So. People obviously can't see this, but sitting behind you right now is your little brother. 

Tarny Athwal: Yep. 

Amardeep Parmar: So he's coming on part of the team as well. How does it feel even to be able to do that, right? To bring on family members and people you trust to build that team even further?

Tarny Athwal: It's honestly the best feeling. I'm not going to lie. And I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It [00:25:00] is a great feeling. I mean, it is, don't get me wrong. My team that I've got at the moment, phenomenal, brilliant, but it is different when it's your own brother. And I mean, me and him have never once spoken about working together.

Tarny Athwal: Building something, creating something. To be fair, I think if I'd suggested a few years ago of me and him working together, he did probably, probably told me to get lost. I'm not going to lie, but, um, but it's a great position to be in. I think the happiest person in the world about this is my mom. This is her dream.

Tarny Athwal: She's super gassed. She's so happy for us. And, and it's just a great feeling because Desi City for me is something that I'm going to build, but it's for the family. Everything we do is for my family. And now to have my family as part of it, there's no higher like personal accolade, personal feeling that you could have.

Tarny Athwal: It's a great feeling. And I feel very proud to be able to share the rest of this journey now with my brother. But up until this point, he was always the person I'd be talking to, we're doing this now, we're doing that now, this is what we're going to be doing. So, to be fair, he was part of the journey anyway, we've just made it official now.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, and I think it's been amazing, right? You had to change your [00:26:00] website and go for the agency. But has there been anything where you thought that something's going to be really good? And it ended up not turning out that way. And you had to make a few pivots or have you been quite lucky? 

Tarny Athwal: There's nothing, nothing crazy has gone wrong.

Tarny Athwal: And it's because the platform that we need to build, we know how it needs to be built. So the only real problems we've had is if we're developing something and it's taking a bit longer, or there's been a bug that we weren't expecting. So it's delayed things a bit. There's not been something where we've necessarily needs, but we've spent money on marketing to try to try different things.

Tarny Athwal: And that money's lost. That money's wasted. That's the only thing that's really been a, like a pain, but you wouldn't know. I'd rather spend 500 pounds and lose that than spend 5, 000 on it and think, Oh, you know, I'm, I'm screwed now. So, um, no, there's not been, I've been very fortunate. And I think that's, that's not because necessarily of me, but because of the team I've built around me.

Tarny Athwal: So I've got my internal Des CIty team, but then the agency that I work with in Birmingham, Gloss, they're very good at advising me. So I will go to them as a suggestion of something we need to do, but they will tell me, what they think might be better. And [00:27:00] sometimes it means I have to go and think about it.

Tarny Athwal: A lot of the times I do trust them, and that's why things go well. And then the wider network, I'm networking a lot, at least two, three times a month going to different networking events, and I've built a great circle around me now of people I can discuss ideas with or talk about or say this has happened.

Tarny Athwal: What do you think? And I'll get their opinion. So I think because I'm learning of so many people and a lot of time it is me learning off them. I've got Not much to share with them back, I don't think, because they're all doing so well, but a lot of time, because I'm absorbing the information, I'm able to then come to somewhat of a calculated decision.

Tarny Athwal: And that way it's mitigating how bad something can go, if I'm honest. So yeah, it's, I think I made all my mistakes. Before with the crypto, the forex and the directory. And that's obviously a learning point as well. So I'm fortunate not to have anything too bad go wrong.

Amardeep Parmar: What's going to happen now is obviously different with if the scaling is this kind of level, you're not going to have a huge number of employees in the future, potentially.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's a different role that you're going to have. What are some of the challenges you're kind of looking forward to in some way? Cause you mentioned about pressure before how it's a new thing for you to take on. [00:28:00] What's the challenges you're excited about where maybe you're not sure how you can be able to cope.

Amardeep Parmar: Just yet, but it's a new thing that you're like, I can't wait to do that.

Tarny Athwal: Yeah, well, the biggest thing that keeps playing in my mind and it's already been happening is stepping away from the daily doing Desi City, daily tasks with Desi City and then kind of just letting the team get on with it. And so I really like being involved.

Tarny Athwal: I like. I love, I love working on Desi City like there's no day I woke up thinking I can't be bothered. I love it. So now, rather than stepping in setting up shops or having the sales calls or whatever it might be to now say, okay, you guys take care of it and kind of directing that overall strategy.

Tarny Athwal: And yeah, okay, now we need to go in this direction. We need to, we need to X, Y, Z and then focus on taking Desi City abroad. It's that not being involved, getting my hands dirty every day that I think is going to be the most difficult thing. And that's the thing I'm going to have to get adjusted to the most, I think, and it's a very good problem to have.

Tarny Athwal: It's a great place to be in. And I'm sure I'm going to do my team's head in. Cause I'm sure that there'll be [00:29:00] days I'm like, guys, what's going on? Please keep me informed of what's happening here. And they've already got it locked off. And even now at this point, now I'm checking in with the team on certain things.

Tarny Athwal: And they've already done what, what we had discussed and taking it a step further while I've been focusing on getting something else done and I'm like, Oh, cool. Thanks. So it's already happening. And so I just don't want to feel too alienated from what actually the Desi City is doing just to drive the bigger picture.

Tarny Athwal: So, but I've got a great relationship with. Luckily it's my brother and the rest of the team, Priya's been with us for 18 months. We're a team five full time employees and eight in total. So we've got a great relationship. So it's not going to be too difficult to keep in touch with them. Plus I don't take no for an answer as well.

Tarny Athwal: So I'll be badgering them until they give me the answer. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And you mentioned some of the stuff about like geographical expansion things as well. What's the hope? Is it one day you're going to have teams in different countries all over the place? What's the?..

Tarny Athwal:  Yes. So that's the plan at the moment. So we're going to be setting up the city out in the states and have a team there.

Tarny Athwal: Then we're taking one. Not 100 percent sure what the exact location, but our east and then we're having a team [00:30:00] out there and that that will cover for the next couple of years. And then it's go further field and bring on and see what other opportunities come available, but come available. But yes, separate teams in separate areas.

Tarny Athwal: And then just me kind of just dot in between conversations between the different teams to make sure everybody, the problem with that is making sure that they all do have the same values is what Desi city started out with. And we've had some people already say this to us are jokingly are. But you know, this is not gonna be the same when you do this.

Tarny Athwal: And I think with the right team way we've hired at the moment of people's values, people's personalities. And I think with that behind it, I'm not concerned about how this looks out necessarily. It's just making sure that as we keep growing, that those values are not lost.

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And what we're gonna have to do as well is get you on again in the future as you expanded and I get that story of how that expansion went and if it went to plan as well, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because there's always going to be bumps along that road and how you overcame them and the lessons you learned from that too. But we're gonna have to move over to the quickfire questions now. So, first one, who are [00:31:00] three British Asians you'd love to shout out, that people should be paying attention to or learning from?

Tarny Athwal: I've got to shout out Gloss Agency. So they're my development partners and they've done a great job with the Desi City, but I've seen the other brands they've worked with and how they've elevated them. So they're not just... A creative agency. They will help elevate your business. So they've been phenomenal. I mentioned, I go to a lot of networking events and the ones I enjoy the most are the ones run by the Networking club.

Tarny Athwal: They do a phenomenal job around the Midlands and outside of London. It's very difficult to come across very good networking events. So I have to give them a shout and. Lastly, I'd say Signature Awards, which is run by Ninder Johal. He, he's doing a great job in creating a community of different business, not just Asian businesses though, but he's leading it as an Asian, but creating a community of business to create awareness of not just the Desi businesses, but a lot more.

Tarny Athwal: And he's really elevating that game. 

Amardeep Parmar: And  then if people listening right now are looking for help, looking for guidance, what should they come to you  about? 

Tarny Athwal: Anything. If anybody's looking for any help. And not because I've got the answers, but because I'll be able to help them get to the answers [00:32:00] while we're not working on Desicity.

Tarny Athwal: I've had sellers come to me with a number of different issues that has had no impact on Desi city. And really, it's not for Desi city to get involved with, but they've had troubles trademarking, copyright and hiring. They've had disputes between themselves. And let alone, okay, where should I, where do you think I should promote something?

Tarny Athwal: Whatever. So they've come to, I've not always had the right answer, but I've asked, cause I'm fortunate to have a great circle. I've asked the question, got back to them and they've always been happy. So if anybody wants to get in touch with anything, honestly, feel free. We're always here to help. We want to, this is about creating that platform from which businesses can elevate themselves.

Tarny Athwal: And that's what we want to do, bringing everybody together and everybody growing together. So even if that's just through somebody reaching out to ask a question by all means, go ahead. 

Amardeep Parmar: And then  on the other side. What's something that DesiCity or you need help with right now yourself? 

Tarny Athwal: I think it's  just people talking to each other about DesiCity, going on DesiCity and checking it out.

Tarny Athwal: You know, I want people to use DeciCity if they want to use DesiCity. So I would ask everybody to go on the [00:33:00] platform, see if there's something they like. If there's not, let us know. If there's a feature or function that they don't like, let us know. The best developments we've done are based on feedback we've got from customers and our sellers, because every time somebody buys from Desi City, they're supporting a small business.

Tarny Athwal: Nobody who buys on Desi City buys anything off me. What they're doing is they're buying off a Desi business. Don't support Desi City, support your South Asian businesses. 

Amardeep Parmar: Perfect.  And then thanks so much for coming on. Have you got any final words? 

Tarny Athwal: Well, thank you for having me on. Firstly, thank you to you and Gurvir for, for having me on.

Tarny Athwal: Honestly, it's, it's, uh, one of my milestone moments. So I've got to honestly say this, you know, it's, it's an honor to be here. And I'd say the only other thing, and I was talking to my brother about this. Is that anybody listen, anybody watching, no matter what they're doing, they don't have to be an entrepreneur.

Tarny Athwal: They could just be working whatever job they enjoy doing, but have discipline in what you do. Motivation comes and goes. And this is something me and my brother were discussing. Motivation will come and go. That's when most of New Year's resolutions fails by before the end of January, [00:34:00] but it's discipline that keeps you going.

Tarny Athwal: So whatever you want to pursue, whether it's a career, whether it's a business, whether it's to lose weight, whatever it might be, have discipline at everything you do. And even if even if your motivation goes, you will be a thousand times better at the end of a year, let alone two years, three years than you would be if you let, let motivation lead you alone.

Tarny Athwal: So be disciplined in everything you do and just watch how happy you are at the end of it.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello, hello, everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It means a huge amount to us. And we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here.

Amardeep Parmar: To inspire, connect and guide the next generation British Asians. If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests. We can host more events. We can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part.[00:35:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for supporting us.

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