Devita Saraf India’s model CEO – is a businesswoman, investor, model and fashion connoisseur with unapologetic views on business, luxury, and success.
In 2006, at the age of 24, Saraf founded Vu Technologies in California, a leader in high-end consumer electronics, and has led her brand into becoming the $130 million company that it is today.
Ever since its inception, Saraf has worked tirelessly to reach greater heights every year, with many accomplishments under her belt. She is India’s richest self-made woman under 40, if you go by IIFL Wealth Hurun India 40 and Under Self-Made Rich List of 2020. She was also part of Fortune’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women in India in 2019. Her company Vu Technologies has been reasserting its presence in the luxury space.
But Saraf’s influence extends beyond the realm of the business alone. She is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the world of fashion and luxury. Saraf has walked the ramp for major Indian designers and endorsed several luxury brands in their campaigns. Saraf worked tirelessly for the last few years to build Vu technologies and make it the brand it is today.
LuxeBook caught up with her to know all about her journey to success.
Tell us about your journey as CEO of Vu Technologies and how it all came about.
I started Vu Televisions when I was 24 years old, because I had this vision of building a high-end luxury brand, coming from a family business background in technology. I thought it would be the ideal way of blending luxury and technology. The first thing I did was to research product development labs across the world and start my own lab to make high-end products. The second part was to build a superb brand and the entire experience around it. Then, of course, was how as an entrepreneur I am going to put in my money and build this. So, this is what we did back in 2006, and by 2022, we are the largest luxury television brand that competes with the likes of Sony, Samsung, and LG. We have reached a revenue of 1,000 crore and I own 100% of the business.
Today you are one of India’s richest self-made women under 40, what do you attribute your success to?
One of the things I would attribute my success to is the fact that I took my time to build this business. Most people feel building a business is a question of throwing a lot of money at it, or raising a lot of money, but if you want a business that you own personally,
you must take your time and build it organically. You must be conscious of not diluting your equity. In fact, each time you are making your business stronger, your own profit goes towards the working capital of the company. I was able to build the business from scratch by having full control. Personally, I am a disciplined person. I work 9-to-9 most days of the week. I am someone who has my eye on the pie. I am very disciplined, without which it is impossible to build such a big business.
Tell us about your associations with the luxury industry what are your favourite items experiences?
In the past, I have associated with a bunch of different luxury brands personally in the jewellery space. I have associated with Zoya, and with Jaipur Gems. In the fashion space, I have associated with Burberry and Dior. In the Indian fashion space, I have done fashion shows for Jade by Monica and Karishma and Neeta Lulla, among others. The collaborations have always been very high-end and path-breaking. For example, when I did the collaboration with Burberry, it was the first time someone created a private event for a luxury brand back in 2012. When I did the campaign for Jaipur Gems, a 300-year-old brand, we created a very Sofia Coppola-style video for them, and when it came to Zoya when they opened their South Bombay store, I was the Chief- Guest for the unveiling of the store. Each collaboration has been ahead of its time and unique, rather than just a question of integration.
How has technology affected the luxury world?
It has completely changed the luxury industry. What people have never understood is that both luxury and technology are incredibly personal and experiential, so technology has been able to bring to luxury not just a great retail and digital experience, but more than anything, it has globalized the world. I can sit in Mumbai and see what the trends are globally. I can buy the product, wear the product, and put my pictures out there. So, fashion and luxury have become a lot more personal and global at the same time with the help of technology.
What is the biggest roadblock you have faced and you have overcome it?
One of the biggest roadblocks that I have faced was deciding how big I want to be. A lot of women especially have always told me to focus on other things in life, now that I had built my business, or not to grow it so big otherwise I will not have time for other things in life. That is all not true. I have been able to build a massive
business while having a fantastic life. I got my business degree at Harvard earlier this year, I bought a house for myself in the most expensive building in the country. I launched my own perfume; I became the face of the business. Anyone who tells you that women should own small, cute businesses are telling you a lie, women are, and should be empire builders.
A piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
One of my friends told me this in Silicon Valley, California, and I have followed her advice. Delete social media from your phone on Monday morning and then re-install it on Friday evening. This is especially important if you know the task of your week, whether it is to grow your business sales, or to make new products, or counts your finances, you need to be disciplined. If you are constantly checking, comparing, and getting derailed by other people on social media, you will never get the discipline to succeed. I would say, promote less on social media and do more of actual work. Then whatever you post and
promote should have impact.
Your best leadership advice?
I am comfortable being a leader. I have a lot of clarity on what I want. I know what I want and how to get it, and often do not listen to others. I tend to listen to my own intuition. I have noticed that the life I have built is better when I listen to my own intuition as opposed to other people. If you want to be a leader, don’t bother making popular decisions. You can take feedback from other people, but the final decision should come from your gut. Leaders are a lonely pack in a way, but it is a lovely pack because we put our money where our mouth is. We make our own decisions and make things happen.
If you had to go back and do things differently, what it would be and why?
For me, personally, it has always been about taking risks, and I am happy with where I am in life today. I am proud of all my achievements. At the same time, I am very satisfied with the life I have designed and built for myself. I cannot think of anything that I would have done differently.
Fashion advice for entrepreneurs who are women?
I do not think you have to be a man, or you know, matronly, in your choice of clothing. You do not have to be dressed in very dark colours and loose fits all the time. Your attire should be well-fitted. A sharp look makes you feel more confident and ready. Anti-fit loose clothes are good if you are in a creative field, but it is important to be sharply dressed. Secondly, do embrace colour over print. I think prints sometimes look a bit casual, more holiday. Bright nice colours always end up looking more professional. Thirdly, I’ll say invest in quality accessories like a great watch, designer shoes, and fine jewellery. That looks much better than layering and pairing chunky jewellery.
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