STIMY Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary - On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Business & Being the Son of Nepal’s 1st & Only Forbes-Listed Billionaire, Binod Chaudhary

Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary (MD & CEO, Chaudhary Group) – On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Legacy

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Welcome to Episode 53!

Our guest for STIMY Episode 53 is Rahul Chaudhary.

Rahul Chaudhary is the Managing Director of CG Corp Global – a 140-year-old, 4th-generation, multinational conglomerate.

CG Corp Global is spread over 30 countries and with a work force of over 10,000, and is the Himalayan Republic of Nepal’s first and only company listed on the Forbes list of Billionaires since 2015 valued in excess US$2.5 Billion comprising over 90 companies that produces world class products and brands.

Some notable areas of interests are FMCG, Hospitality, Finance, Banking, Electronic and Home appliances, Cement, Real estate, Education, Energy, Biotech, Retail. Most notably, CG Corp Global is the brain behind the famous Wai Wai brand of noodles.

In addition, Rahul is the CEO of CG Hospitality Holdings, the hospitality wing of CG Corp Global, forging successful joint ventures in the hospitality sector with renowned partners such as Taj, Alila, Jetwing, Radisson, The Farm and its own brands The Fern, Summit and Zinc. CG Hospitality Holding’s portfolio comprises of over 150 hotels & resorts in 20 countries and 65 destinations with over 8000 keys. 

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    Who is Rahul Chaudhary?

    Rahul is the second son of Binod Chaudhary – the first and only Forbes-listed billionaire. And Rahul shares what it was like growing up in a family steeped in entrepreneurship, learning to focus on his strengths rather than allowing his weaknesses to control him. 

    • 3:12 Rahul’s great-grandfather, whose birth is taken as the genesis of the Chaudhary Group
    • 6:48 Core family values
    • 10:43 Always focusing on the good
    • 18:02 Civil war in Nepal
    I was told and taught in my life that you should always learn to fight your fears. You should always learn to meet your disadvantage and advantage.
    STIMY Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary - On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Business & Being the Son of Nepal’s 1st & Only Forbes-Listed Billionaire, Binod Chaudhary
    Rahul Chaudhary
    MD & CEO, Chaudhary Group

    Joining the Family Business

    It was only inevitable that Rahul would join the family business after graduation, and he shares the ups and downs of his career. Beginning with his first business deal in New York.

    • 20:30 Striking his first business deal, where everything went wrong
    • 28:34 Leaving the US for opportunities in Asia
    • 31:54 Forging a partnership with the Taj Group
    • 39:44 Creating CG’s own hospitality brand, Zinc
    • 42:19 Entering Dubai
    STIMY Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary - On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Business & Being the Son of Nepal’s 1st & Only Forbes-Listed Billionaire, Binod Chaudhary

    Beyond Hospitality

    Apart from the hospitality sector, Rahul is also very active in CG’s VC arm, Prestellar Ventures, and the Chaudhary Foundation. 

    • 46:25 Starting Prestellar Ventures, CG’s own VC fund
    • 51:17 The CG Foundation & how it’s helped out during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal & the global pandemic
    • 54:45 Becoming aware of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • 59:36 Changes that have allowed CG’s hotels to thrive during the pandemic

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Nick Bernstein, Part 1 & Part 2: Senior VP, Late Night Programming (West Coast), CBS & executive in charge of the Late Late Show with James Corden
    • Rabi Malla: Nepali social entrepreneur & founder of KOLPA, who works with the indigenous Nepali community to sell their handmade products to the global community
    • Guy Kawasaki: Chief Evangelist of Canva & Apple
    • Kendrick Nguyen: Former Wall Street lawyer turned co-founder of Republic, one of the top equity crowdfunding platforms in the US with the mission of becoming the Amazon of private investing

    If you enjoyed this episode with Rahul Chaudhary you can: 

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    Send an Audio Message

    I’d love to include more listener comments & thoughts into future STIMY episodes! If you have any thoughts to share, a person you’d like me to invite, or a question you’d like answered, send an audio file / voice note to sothisismywhy@gmail.com

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

    STIMY Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary - On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Business & Being the Son of Nepal’s 1st & Only Forbes-Listed Billionaire, Binod Chaudhary

    STIMY Ep 53: Rahul Chaudhary - On Inheriting a 140-Year-Old Family Business & Being the Son of Nepal’s 1st & Only Forbes-Listed Billionaire, Binod Chaudhary

    Rahul Chaudhary: I was told and taught in my life that you should always learn to fight your fears. You should always learn to meet your disadvantage and advantage.

    When I went to school, I mean, I was in the national team of three sports.

    I mean, there's this award that is given in high school called the Gentleman Sportsman of the Year where only one person gets it before you leave school. And I was that person and one would not even imagine.

    There's a record that I have in school of having scored the highest number of goals in the history of school in soccer, I scored 46 in 23 games. Things like this, I could have simply sat down and said that, I have got asthma, I can't do this.

    But, you know, I, I fought it out and I believe I managed to live through it and emerged stronger, but that is something that taught me a lot in life as well.

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone!

    Welcome to episode 53 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, and today's guest is Rahul Chaudhary - Managing Director and CEO at CG Corp global and CG Hospitality Holdings, and also the son of Binod Chaudhary, who is the first and only Forbes listed multi-billionaire from Nepal.

    I first came into contact with Rahul last year through a mutual friend. I was hiking up to Everest Base Camp when the pandemic hit and nearly every hotel in Kathmandu was shuttered, but Rahul kindly offered me a place to stay at one of his hotels until we managed to secure a flight back home.

    In this episode, we explore what it's like being a part of a 140 a year of family legacy. A legacy that comprises over 90 companies and 60 brands that cover over five continents. From being a sporting champion school to striking his first business deal in New York, where everything that could possibly go wrong, did.

    And how the hospitality arm off the group has expanded. First through partnerships and then in launching their own brand and how the group has continued to thrive throughout the pandemic. So are you ready for Rahul's story?

    Let's go.

    I wanted to go all the way back to your great grandfather, who I believe was born in 1870, and you take his birth as the origin of the Chaudhary group.

    And he was the person who moved to Kathmandu. And I wonder growing up, was he someone that you heard about a lot in terms of who he was as a person, how he influenced your family?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Actually, the history and foundation and origin of our group started in that year itself. If it wasn't for my great grandfather, we wouldn't be here today and the foundation of our businesses and our lineage started at that time itself, passed on from my great-grandfather to my grandfather and from my grandfather to my father and now us.

    Obviously those times are very different. My great-grandfather was born in a state called Rajastan in India. And that is the backdrop, or the abode of the community, where Marwadi originated and uh, Marwadis are supposed to be very astute entrepreneurs.

    And some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are Marwadis and have originated from Rajastan itself. Yes, they have gone from their villages and cities in Rajastan itself, all over the world and done pretty good for themselves. So we do come from a entrepreneurial background by blood, you can say.

    And my great grandfather set the founding stone and he moved to Nepal together with my grandfather.

    My grandfather then came here and learned the ropes, I would say through my great grandfather. How to become an entrepreneur, how to handle the businesses. I remember that my great grandfather used to take my grandfather everywhere.

    He started off with his business and uh, it all started when he came to Nepal and started selling textiles and he was selling textiles to the Royal family at that point in time.

    He used to be on a courtyard because he could not look up at the, ladies and the women in those days when they're looking down from the window, he used to lay down the clothe and the textiles on top of that for them to see, and then they would choose, and my grandfather would then take that textile upstairs to them.

    So obviously it started off in a very humble way. No doubt. I guess the most important factor of any family business is the continuity of heritage, culture, tradition, and values, and all of these companies, what we call a foundation. And that is the most important for any family business to survive and to see the light at the end of the tunnel with future generations coming on.

    Ling Yah: it was so long ago when your great-grandfather moved over. You still talk about these values, clearly, you're still very connected to that heritage.

    I wonder what it was growing up that allowed you to feel so connected to everything that your family is and how we originate it from when you were born in Nepal and you grew up here. So it would be natural to assume you have no connections left with India.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Actually. That's not true. I'll tell you why. Because I've had the fortune of obviously spending a lot of time with my grandparents.

    Obviously all of this was passed on to my grandparents, right. So they did a lot to pass it on to us and through my parents as well. So we had that continuity when it comes to still having your feet grounded, as well as being connected to your ancestors and to Rajastan itself.

    And also to keep in mind that I went to a boarding school, Doon India. I was there from class one to 12. So I was there for most part of my young years itself and a lot of time used to be spent in Rajastan as well. So we were always, my parents would always make sure that we were still connected, with our roots.

    And are aware of where we came from. That's most important for a proper continuity for times to come, you know. And I don't think our parents ever, or by grandparents ever forgot that because they felt it is most important to us as well. And uh, that's how we grew. So we've always been in touch with our our value system, our culture tradition, morals, as well as our entrepreneurial foundation as well.

    And that's what has come to use to allow in our lives.

    Ling Yah: What were the most important values growing up that your grandparents, your parents taught you and your brothers.

    Rahul Chaudhary: I think the most important would be that never forget where you came from because , our family has come from very, very humble beginning, , and , my father in one of his interviews has had mentioned that I'm a humble man from a humble country with big dreams, , and I think that pretty much sums up the biggest turning that we ever had from our last two generations itself.

    That's number one.

    Number two would also be in terms of the respect and the appreciation that you offer for your past generations, because you wouldn't be where you are today, if it weren't for them. And you have to always appreciate that and value that is very important. Third would be I would say the process of learning and the knowledge that is impart on you, which is I expect it to be important on the future generations as well.

    So when it's a family business, it is a business that is in there for the past hundred, 150 years, but it will go on for many more hundred, hundred years, thousands of years for times to come. I think these are three most important aspects that our family has taught us. Obviously now we need this to mention about the way of doing business.

    The way that one should be in terms of valuing money and the way that one should value labor, And when I say value labor, meaning dignity of labor, and also from the perspective of how one should look at business while giving back to the society as well. Because the society has given you so much appreciation that society has given you so much love and you are where you are because of what they feel about what all you have done.

    And we must always take that into consideration as a core value of our group, which is one of the most important pillars of CG as well.

    Ling Yah: You talks about love and giving back to society. And it makes me think of, and this is something I read in your father's book that as Marwadi, you're the oldest trading community, but being Marwadi, I wonder what that means and how it's impact you, because it doesn't sound as though people are necessarily open and they might even go so far as to consider you foreign, even though you were born there, is that correct?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Yes, I think I mean, the reality is what you said, actually that people do, I mean, we are not hardcore Nepalis from the perspective of having Nepalese origin. I mean, that goes without saying, obviously we have an Indian origin, but having said that we also came to this country over a hundred years back. Everything about us is Nepal.

    We all have Nepalese passports. We have grown up in this country and we associate ourselves with Nepal itself. the local Nepalese may have a different, I wouldn't say everyone, I would not like to generalize, but you're always going to have some bad apples, as one would like to call it.

    but that's okay. I mean, , the way I look at life is that. there are going to be some people who don't say good things about you is the time when you know you're doing something right. But anyway, leaving that aside, yes for us to come to Nepal, we do have uh, Indian origin, no doubt.

    And that brings with it a lot of advantages and being on a Nepali, having Indian origin also brings with it disadvantages, but we have managed to maneuver those because, , we don't get wrapped up around our origin and where we came from and the color of our skin and so on and so forth. We believe ourselves by our heart, mind, and soul that we are Nepali.

    And we are here for the people, with the people. And we are continuing to do that from that perspective itself. and then there comes a point in life where you start ignoring the less important things that don't matter. And you start focusing on things that matter, , because those that will appreciate what you have done and appreciate what you continue to do are the ones that you should pick along with your journey towards your larger vision.

    Ling Yah: And I wonder if that kind of awareness of just focusing on the good and moving forward, was that something that you always had as a child? What were you like growing up? I read in your father's book as well, where he said you used to suffer from asthma attacks as well, and you had to rush to the hospital at night.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Again, this is something that was taught by my father, by parents, rather as well, that. Not everyone is perfect. Everyone comes with certain natural problems are, I mean, you are born with it. It's just up to you. How you look at it, whether it's a glass is half empty or glass is half full, you know?

    Yes, I did have a challenge, no doubt. And I was very young because of asthma because in those days, obviously medication and healthcare was not to the extent as what it is right now. So yes, I had to go to the hospital quite often. And , my mother used to spend pretty much, most of the nights she was with me and taking care of me.

    But I could have looked at that as a negative in my life, but I didn't do that because I was told and taught in my life that you should always learn to fight your fears. You should always learn to meet your disadvantage and advantage.

    When I went to school, I mean, I was in the national team of three sports.

    I mean, there's this award that is given in high school, called the gentleman sportsman of the year where only one person gets it before you leave school. And I was that person and one would not even imagine.

    There's a record that I have in school of having scored the highest number of goals in the history of school in soccer, I scored 46 in 23 games. Things like this, I could have simply sat down and said that, I have got asthma, I can't do this.

    But, you know, I, I fought it out and I believe I managed to live through it and emerged stronger, but that is something that taught me a lot in life as well. And the foundation of what was imparted to me by my parents was something that I used in school and I harnessed that.

    And I continue to do that in other aspects of life as well.

    So sports always teaches you a lot about how you are way to handle yourself in your life now, and in the future. Whether it's called team work, whether it's team spirit, whether it's your own training, it's your own preparedness. It's your dedication. It's your hard work. All of these are fundamentals of sports and fundamentals of life, but I was not an excellent student either.

    So I did capitalize when I was a sportsman and I made the most of it. So I looked at it very differently in terms of me having asthma. And I made it my strength.

    Ling Yah: And to put it in context, your father said that they actually hesitated to send you because they were worried about your physical condition and then you emerged the spot in champion.

    Rahul Chaudhary: I will tell you, Ling, it was not easy for my parents as well. I mean, I can just, well, imagine how difficult it was for my parents. I was just six. And you can imagine for them to send me to a foreign country in India, in a boarding school at the age of six and my mother, she's a very strong woman, but very emotional when it comes to her children. I mean, my mother used to cry even when I went to college. Okay. So, so, so of course it is very difficult for them, but I think they, felt that if it would be difficult for them now, they would, they had that confidence and that faith and hope that.

    What they are hoping for and expecting after the education is what they are looking at the bigger picture. And I think that's what they did. So they just let a bird free and he let the bird fly. That's what they call it.

    Ling Yah: I mean, you were only six and they're sending you to Welham then Doon school.

    And your father had to go through so much effort just to get your elder brother and yourself into the school. Why was it so important for them that you need to go to that school at such a young age?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Nepal did not in those days, by the way have good schools.

    My father unfortunately had to step into business when he was 18 years old because my grandfather had a cardiac arrest.

    So obviously my grandfather, he survived, but he had to obviously not get into the core businesses day-to-day businesses. So my father did not have the opportunity to go to school. Like we did, , I mean, in class six weeks in class 10 itself, you had to step back. So he had no educational class, 11 and 12 or thereafter. So he wanted his children obviously to have a better platform and a better education.

    And Deradoon is supposed to be like the capital of schools of India. And he had by then you know, meet a lot of friends he went to any extent to make sure that we were sent to the best boarding school in India at that point in time, which continues to be. So obviously it was very important for him to give his children a platform, which he could never unfortunately get.

    And that's what he did.

    Ling Yah: And so after Doon school, was it clear what you were going to do? Were you going to go straight to university or come back and help the family?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Actually, a funny thing is Ling that even when you are in Doon school or you're in a boarding school or in college, I would say more so in boarding school, we used to get holidays twice a year for two months, each in the summer and winter.

    Yes. Our parents used to take us for a holiday during the summer and winters for a week, two weeks, but we used to have two months holiday. While many of the children would be staying home and playing the toys. My father would ensure that we are spending time one or two hours in the office sitting at the side of the conference room or doing something with some of his office people just so that our process of learning starts at a very, very early stage.

    After we all finished our high school, yes. I mean, we obviously got the basic fundamental trading during the holidays when we were coming back home. But yes, we were expected to go to college.

    We did that. We all went to respective colleges all across the world, but after we finished our bachelor's degree, we weren't very clear that we wanted to make sure we worked full time in our company itself to learn before we go into our masters and I'll tell you, I've never, I've never done my master's degree today.

    It was, I felt that the Chaudhary school of business administration has been my master's education. So that has really, really helped. And I would also say that even during college, I used to work.

    Funny story. I'll tell you that my father bought me the best car in university, but you know what he said, that I'm not paying for your insurance, got in my pain for your guests. The petrol, you have to earn that yourself.

    So what I used to do was I used to work in the kitchen, washing dishes and wiping tables and in Florida, I mean, that goes on to teach you about dignity of labor . And I did that. I did that. And I've done from that, that even for first two years of high school, I in university, I did that.

    After that I used to structure my classes in such a way that two days in a week, I used to have classes back. And then after that, the four days in a week, I used to travel to look for business opportunities, to grow in America. So that's what I did in university. And the first deal I ever closed was actually the year after I graduated from university in 2006.

    We closed the deal in America. So it was all a process of learning right from the beginning, you know?

    Ling Yah: So just before we go to that first deal, I was looking at the timeline. You were studying at Miami university around the same time, where back in Nepal, there was the civil war between the Maoist insurgents and the army, which really impacted your family.

    I wonder if you were very aware of what was going on, if , how it impacted your family?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well, we were obviously aware, but Asian family being Asian parents, they obviously like to shield their children from any adversity or any negativity to the extent possible. So while we knew what was happening and obviously it is no hidden truth that during an insurgency that the ones who are targeted are usually the influential families. And that's what had happened. I mean, fortunately God is kind that he protected us and it wasn't anything got to do with the threat to anyone's lives. I mean, the country was in threat all together.

    So we all, obviously what a part of that whole movement. Movement in the sense, part of the process of the insurgency. We were affected in many ways from business and our general day-to-day lives as well. But we met is to maneuver it. And like I said, all of us were not. We weren't in our colleges.

    I think my elder brother, Nirvana, was studying in Nepal at that point in time, but Varun and I were not in Nepal. So we were more focused outside. And my parents also did everything possible to make sure that everything that happens outside continues to grow. And with two children already outside his focus was to do that through them.

    That's how he had planned his future legacy as I would call it, you know?

    Ling Yah: So you said you were going around searching for years for deals. How were you making connections in a country that you had not grown up in?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Actually through my father. My father used to connect me to people that he knows in America itself.

    And you know my current partner. We still have a hotel in uh, JFK, my current partner. They're also very influential family from Sri Lanka. And his son, my father's friend's son has lived in New York or in America now for the past 25, 30 years. So obviously he, knew people there. So I was actually also learning the ropes from him, you know? ?

    Yes, this is indeed the Mohinani family, and they are into hotels in Sri Lanka, as well as India and wonderful Amman assets as well. And within, I learned the ropes of doing business in America and uh, that's what it was.

    Ling Yah: I read in an interview? You said that you know that your first day in New York and everything went wrong with it.

    What were they?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Wow, you've done so much research. I'm amazed. Very impressively. No, yes you are right. That first year was a very important learning for me, because I remember I was in a single room at the Hilton on avenues of America, where I spent almost two months and we transacted a deal of almost $60 million.

    So you can imagine that is a student who's just coming in out of college, is working from this small, tiny, and transacting and talking to such big people in the industry, not having known what he is in for?

    So, I mean, everything I did, I must tell you, we went wrong. Whether it's negotiation with the operator, with the seller, with the bank, everything. I mean, I can literally write a book and it took us one year to close that deal. But and having said that, I think that was the biggest learning in my life.

    My father says that that was the most expensive learning for me and him but what I can see that, that learning really shaped my thinking in terms of looking at deals, evaluating deals, as well as concluding deals. I mean, those were the times when I did a deal at four within 12 months.

    Now I can look up, yeah. The safety like closes within one to two months itself, ? So it's, it's all a process of learning. We still have the asset there. Uh, We are constantly evolving and looking at ways to improve the earnings and monetize our investment, but yeah, it was a brilliant learning and , funny thing, another funny story, I'll tell you, the reason why we invested in America is because I told my father I want to live in America, you know.

    Now can you imagine an Asian family, one of the children of the three saying, oh, I want to move away and go to America. That's a big blow to our Asian business family. So my father thought that he must have a business in America, so that it's worth it for one of his children to go there and that's how the first hotel came about.

    Now you can see destiny has it, that I spent less time there and more time here now. And I love spending time in this part of the world.

    Ling Yah: You said that you had many learnings from how to evaluate deals, close deals. I wonder at a high level, what were those main learnings? What are the things that you look for that allow you to determine this is the deal I want to proceed with very quickly?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well, the most important, I would say while looking at any deal is your entry value. And then you are talking about a hotel and real estate. That is pretty much the most important aspect. I mean, if you're looking at a Greenfield that is building right from ground up, you have to look at keeping your cost basis to the bare minimum.

    Same thing with regards to an operating hotel, you have to be able to buy that hotel at the bare minimum price. I mean, think of it this way, that there is a reason why two people can never be happy in a buy and sell because the one who's selling will always want the higher price and the one who's buying we'll always want a lower price.

    Now be able to come to a meeting ground requires a lot of homework. It requires a lot of diligence to be able to give that rationale why you believe the value of that property is what it is. I mean, what we have done all our lives is we've always bought into companies and assets by way of its earning. The way we look at it that you can build let's say Taj Mahal in New York, but if it doesn't make you money, then what uses that real estate right there, right? So you can build whatever you, if you are not able to make the required returns, it doesn't matter what exactly you are building whatsoever. So you have to be able to customize your thinking with that aspect fundamental.

    Second would be from the perspective of your strategic fit. There are a lot of deals that we did just purely based on emotions, by the way.

    We liked the asset. We liked the country and we want to go and buy that asset. But we did not at that point in time, I would say almost a decade back we were not fully clear. Yes. We want to be here. We want to be there. We were very opportunistic, like any businessman. And wherever we could find a good deal, we would start evaluating that.

    So I believe that it's also very important to look at how important is it from your long-term perspective or your short term? Now we, as investors are a long-term investor. You know, we don't believe in just flipping assets, but in hindsight, we should have done that. So you see process of learning and strategizing whether you are putting in money for the short or the long-term itself.

    And also a strategy plays a very, very important role on where you see a group going over a period of time.

    These two rather most important fundamentals are okay, you'll also be able to survive the downturn. I mean, I'll give you an example. We bought all these assets even during the subprime of 2009, and during the earthquake here and during all the turmoil that the world has faced in different parts of the world for the past 50 years, we still survive.

    We've not had to sell even one property until a year or so back, but we've survived because we managed to keep our fundamentals of the business in a realistic and sustainable level.

    Ling Yah: And there was one particular story that I picked up from your father's book. And he said that he had written off this deal with concept hospitality, but then you were actually pushing Homi for two years and there was a breakthrough.

    I wonder what it was that drove you to really push for it for so long and how that breakthrough came about.

    Rahul Chaudhary: I think I would call it an entrepreneur's gut feel. You know, my father always used to say, it's a part of his book as well, he was asked once that, how did you make all these deals all your life and highlight what was that will help you? Let me know what he said, that my children have the luxury of the internet.

    I have the luxury of the digitalization have the luxury of technology, have the luxury of intellect of other people who are far better prepared and far better in place to be able to advise you. He said, I had none of those, which is correct. All I had was my entrepreneurial mindset and a gut-feel, , and I think I also managed to pick up or learn from that in a very important way.

    This deal came to us, concept hospitality. Uh, This is one of our most important investments. I must say, before the deal came to us, the deal just simply went through, but somehow, while looking at the fundamentals of the deal and who concept was talking to to close the deal, I read a little bit about that company as well, by the way.

    But I was not, I was quite clear in my mind that after having done my research, then I don't think the deal is going to go through because maybe the history of that company who wasn't negotiation with them because they had not closed such deals in the past, and these guys while they were in contract, but I also believe that they were looking at keeping the door open.

    I gauged that, you know.

    So I kept at it. I was keeping, with away one of the most leading investment bankers, or let's say a consultant, his name is Homi Aibara. I, You know, he was in India and I mean, he's no more. And he was, he was truly my guru when it comes to uh, evaluating hotel deals and getting hotel deals in India.

    And his son continues to be leading the business in the right fashion and where his father had taken him. But anyway, he brought the deal to me and I would keep in touch with him. , every two months I would say how are things, how is the deal going? He would say, no, it's not come on to the table.

    Those guys are looking at transacting and one fine day, destiny has it, he said, what are you still interested? I said, absolutely I'm interested. And then immediately I met with the founder of that company in India and within a period of three to four months, the deal was transacted. And today we are the second largest management company in India.

    Ling Yah: And you mentioned earlier that you wanted to stay in the states. how did that mindset change? Because you moved back and you were actually Singapore as well for a time.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Actually, I think you hit the nail on the head, Ling, because you see, I spent two years, one and a half, two years in New York after my university.

    And then I moved to Dubai and then I moved to Singapore. Then I moved to Delhi and then to Nepal. So you see, after having spent a lot of time in all of these spaces, I mean, think of it this way. 2008, I started spending a lot of time in 2006, seven. I was between Dubai and New York or America. Right. And we had already closed the hotel, but Dubai at that time was at its all time peak.

    I mean, Dubai was going through the roof, but it comes those to opportunities. Then the subprime crisis happened in America. So my confidence in the market in America started shrinking while my confidence in the middle east market. And then I moved to Singapore and I saw the capital market. They got the first one, that first market that was, that had gone under let's say, was effected in the world was Singapore.

    And the first market to come out of that crisis was Singapore also. So it also showed me the resilience of Southeast Asia, , especially Singapore. And I spend time in Singapore and my mind started changing more and more about Southeast Asia and the opposite thirties in middle east Africa, Indian sub-continent and Asia and Southeast Asia.

    And then, , we never looked back and then we started investing in companies and investing in deals one after the other, , I'll tell you that when I first came into the business, we had about four hotels in 2006, when I came into the business. Full-time I mean, after a lot of effort and guidance and in line with my, your father's vision tour today, we had 150 hotels with almost 8,000 keys in 1200.

    So obviously something has been something we have done, right. I would say I would hope to save. We've grown in our own humble way, but I think we've grown at the pace that we want to, and mostly in these geographies or content is that I mentioned, we still have only one hotel in America. Otherwise, if our focus was there, we would have expanded to many more.

    Ling Yah: Right from the very start you knew you wanted to have a global focus. And I understand that at least when the Nepalis, there is also a dual purpose for you being in Singapore as well because the Nepali law states that you can't invest freely outside of the country, but then you found a way around it.

    How does it work?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well, actually my father, and this is what vision and I mean, it comes from a dream is only a dream so long as there is a vision backed by the willingness and the capacity to execute.

    Me and my brother, my Varun and myself are both non-resident apartments.

    And my father was a non-resident Nepali for the longest time. And he started the company back in 1993 outside of Nepal. And we started making investments in these companies at that point in time. And then we were always none resident and we continue to maintain that status. And we continued to live outside of Nepal as well.

    And we have always grown all over the world. I mean, when me and Varun are the ones who are to being a non-resident Nepali are the ones running the investments outside.

    Ling Yah: And another very large proponent of CG hospitality is your partnership with Taj group. when that first happened, it was a surprise to many in Kathmandu.

    So how did it all start?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Oh, absolutely. Uh, Ling. That was the, I would say that there was a breakthrough. Yes, that was the breakthrough for us in our hospitality entry into the hospitality vertical.

    One can just imagine that a group like IFC which owns the Taj brands and which is owned by ICL is an enterprise of the Tatas.

    And if you can only imagine behemoth like the Tata group is coming at investing in hotels from an individual in Nepal, for someone all over the world. They come and investigate someone in Nepal. There must be something about it, right?

    And I think it had got to do with the vision of my father.

    Then I think they were aligned in doing this together. And that was when, , Sri Lanka and Maldives was also going through a very tough time. And that is when Sri Lanka was going into its worst time when it was the insurgencies. Now people would look at my father and would say, well, this guy has gone crazy.

    I mean, he wants to go into a country which is at war I mean, in those days, making that investment was huge. It was pretty much like taking out everything from your savings account and putting it into one basket. But, you know, , this comes into another fundamental point, which was once a statement, you know, , an interview was done with Lee Kuan Yew.

    Lee Kuan Yew was once asked, which other country,\ do you see in Southeast Asia and this part of the world, Indian subcontinent, which could become the next Singapore? And he said, Sri Lanka. He said the fundamentals of that countries are right. is a peninsula in the middle of the Indian ocean. And it is only going to do well.

    I think that message really resonated with my father and he made a plunge into that business and look where those properties are today. I mean those are some of the most iconic hotels in the Taj system today, including in the world. And we started with those three hotels and I would always say this in every forum that we have a lot to thank Taj. And we are grateful to ICL to have taught us the ropes of hospitality.

    I mean, they are an incredible company and the value system there just ethics and morals, the way they do businesses phenomenon. I mean, otherwise they wouldn't have created the company that they did and we are so proud to be in partnership with them.

    And we also continue to be one of the largest partners as well in the system today.

    Ling Yah: What'd you think are the signature ways in which they do business that allow them to have grown to such an extent?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well, I think it's similar, I think in terms of our way of thinking of how we evaluate deals, how we look at the fundamentals of the deal, how it is a strategic fit and how it fits into the larger picture of the good strategy itself I think that's how fundamentally Taj has grown as well. They capitalize on that core market, which is India. You see what they have done, which is very smart. And that's how it should be there. They have a captive market of 1.5 billion people, and they are the largest company in India. And they have, I believe over 200 assets now, which majority of these in India itself.

    I mean, they have a captive market and keep in mind the largest travelers in the world today are Indians and Chinese. So wherever Indian market goes, they set up their operations, those countries, and they are successful in doing that. I mean, that's what we are trying to aspire to not saying that Nepal is in any way comparable in terms of the catchment market.

    But Nepal has a lot to do with the Chinese and Indian market as well. And what we have done from our growth strategy lately is that we always entered frontier as well as emerging markets. Yes. We have made investments in some of the markets which are more strategic, like New York. It was a strategic investment.

    It was a very good investment because the perception and the people was exactly like you are saying to yourself that we are a hotel management company based out of Nepal, but has made investments in Sri Lanka and Maldives . They're our hotel company out of Nepal. It is the only company that has a hotel in New York. So you see the sense of help in the yesteryears of our hospitality foundation and the perception.

    And I think that's what Taj has managed to do as well very well. And now you'll see that all over the world. They're also in 12 countries while we are balancing 12 countries, by the way.

    Yeah, they had about 15, 20,000 keys. No doubt. And their assets are one class and I have the highest admiration for that company.

    And as Felicia, what in you in a way one would like to call it, but yes. So I believe we both are quite similar when it comes to our way of thinking and undertaking business.

    Ling Yah: So was what you were bringing at the time when you were forging this partnership with touch, the fact that you could help them expand beyond the India market, where I believe they were focused on very much at the time.

    Rahul Chaudhary: You see, at that point in time, ICL, owns the Taj brand. ISCL only had a few properties outside of India, and I believe they had one in London. They had a few in Sri Lanka and few in Maldives. If I'm not mistaken, And so Taj had not grown too much out of these markets.

    So yes, you're absolutely right. That the vision there was to come in and grow into markets that thought is already known it. And that's what we have done. We have grown with Taj we've been with them for the past 20 years. We have assets with them in India, in Nepal, in Sri Lanka, in Dubai uh, in Phuket.

    So we have developed a circuit with them in these markets and we continue to look for opportunities

    Ling Yah: Another one of the interesting opportunities that you also went into was with the CEO of conservation corporation of Africa. How did that happen? Because it's so rare to see someone also getting into managing jungle lodges.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well , Steve unfortunately is uh, no more, but his family was the one who started the CC Africa. Now it is called Ambion and Ambion is probably uh, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, and they have some fantastic and amazing lodges all over the world and they also have, by the way of travel. And the travel business is called and beyond. And we are partners with and beyond the inbound travel company in India and Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. And that continues to be a big business, but, my father was good friends with Steve and Nicki.

    They were the power couple from CC Africa at that point in time. And, , the desire was because India was just ready to blow up, and so much of culture, so lots of opportunities and so many places to see. So my father, and then thought that this would be very important segment of business for years to come.

    And that's when they decided to identify four locations in central India and Madhya Pradesh. And that's where it all started. And Taj decided to come together with us. So Taj CCE, Africa and us started this journey with the Taj safari lodges, which is very successful today. And we have the fifth one in Nepal in the Chitwan wildlife sanctuary.

    Ling Yah: I think one of the unique things that Steve taught was that you are here to sell the experience, right? People who can afford it, they want the experience as opposed to anything else.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Absolutely. No you are a hundred percent correct. And I can tell you, Ling that hospitality has moved from your regular generic bed and shower and all of these, these are important.

    But now you are not selling bed. You are selling an experience altogether and people are going to hotels and staying in hotels to have that experience right from the time you book, till the time you check out and thereafter as well.

    Ling Yah: Obviously you've been collaborating with so many people, you must have thought, I want to start my own brand, which is Zinc.

    How did that whole idea come about? Why is it called zinc?

    Rahul Chaudhary: About I would say 10 years or so. I think 12 years, 10, 12 years back after having been in the hospitality industry and , learning. The way of hospitality works. We decided that we want to go down this journey of creating our brand.

    One thing I will tell you and everyone who's listening that it's not that easy. Creating a brand is one of the most difficult things you can have. And that is a reason why you have brands like Marriott that had bought Starwood. You have brands like Accor that I bought Fairmont, Raffles, Movenpick because to create the brand is so difficult.

    You would rather invest in buy a company that only is well aware in the market. But having said that not everyone has the access to capital, but if you are willing to create a brand, keep in mind that requirement to create a brand also requires a lot of capital. So if you are willing to be patient, if you are willing to be in it for the long run, it is something that you should do.

    But if not, then I would really advise you against that. And what we decided when we became part of the journey, the idea was linked to create a brand like Virgin, meaning that you create one brand. And that brand could be used for let's say clothing line for an airline, for a vodka brand.

    So one brand itself now you can debate whether the Zinc, for all of these different segments, but we thought it was quite catchy at that point in time. And it still continues to be because we are growing with these brands itself because we have merged these brands with concept.

    And now concept has the fun brand, beacon and zinc and its offshoot brands that it is growing through this management company itself. So it continues to grow in its own humble and its own organic way. So that, all uh, past years of hard work and monetary investments doesn't go to waste. ,

    Ling Yah: What was it like trying to launch the Zinc brand?

    Was it Eric who had to leave? And there was a huge stumbling block there.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Eric Levy. Yes. So Eric had joined us to help us grow the brand itself. Yes. For one reason or the other here to move on, but I mean, we also obviously moved on and I'm still good friends with Eric. There is no doubt about it. I still respect his work.

    But then, like I said, that we shifted the brands to our own management company, which is concept CG, hotels, and resorts. And now that brand continues to grow through that business itself.

    Ling Yah: One of the things that you mentioned was also that you entered into Dubai and you were there very, very early on.

    I read from your father's book that he was initially very hesitant and he did not see the opportunity behind it at all. So how did that change come about? Because now you have done so many exciting things that are happening in that region.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well seeing is believing. I think my father went to Dubai in 2005 or six.

    And when he went and saw, you know, the time that he traveled before, that was in 2003. At that point in time, Dubai was a desert. There was nothing there. And when you went in 2005 and six, and he saw how this whole country is transformed and what the fundamentals of the, I mean, the High Highness the ruler has created, he immediately bought a house there itself and he moved one of his children to Dubai because the fundamentals again of that region was so good.

    It was seeing and believing what was on the ground that changed his entire fundamentals of that place.

    Ling Yah: What was the journey in going to your first venture, which is with Jebel Ali, with Nakeel?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Obviously when you enter that market and the opportunities were at war with the real estate itself.

    The mindset was very different in Dubai at that point in time, it was the short term mindset meaning that you buy you flip, you buy you flip. So we had to change a little bit of our thinking day, , and obviously, but more than Jumeirah it was Nakeel and Emah. Those were the two developers led by the government of Dubai who wanted the forefront of creating new projects.

    They were building projects like they were building hotcakes every day. Every day, they would come up with a new idea. They were selling a dream, you know, and it was amazing that everyone was buying into this dream. And for Dubai size does matter. And for Dubai, concepts do matter. They want to build it bigger and better.

    They want to build something that is not even there anywhere in the world. I mean, how can you ever not buy into something like that? And when they are actually creating and building something that you can see. So we all bought into this dream and I think they did a wonderful job, but they could have been a little bit more cautious.

    I mean, that is what happens when you are entering a system that is very new still to such developments and to such advancements. I think they move too fast, too quick, and they would have actually continued on that growth trajectory if it weren't for the subprime crisis, which was hardest fitting to the real estate sector.

    And that's what happened. But having said that, I think everyone becomes wiser and beyond becomes more tough and systematic. And I think you can see Dubai. I mean, it is one of the financial capitals of the world. So it has learned from what it had to learn. Dubai continues to take the forefront of business and real estate and hospitality

    Ling Yah: In 2019, you enter into Taj Jumeirah Lake Towers.

    What was the thought process behind wanting to build your own hotel from the ground up?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Ling, we've been in Dubai for the past 15, 20 years. Like I said, we were there even before 2005, six before I moved in and my brother came in there because of our foods business, you know,, Wai Wai.

    We were there for so long.

    I would say it is the gateway between the east and the west. It's right in the center, the whole world gets connected in the middle east, et cetera. And we were growing up operations there and one of us was living there. so we thought that we must have a bigger footing in that market.

    Must have a bigger investment in that market. And that's how the beam of thought Jamella lakes tower came into place. I mean, I remember I was the one who put the first foundation stone in that hotel. And Jumeirah Lake Tower becomes is literally like my own baby, like the Magali and Chitwan safari law park.

    And uh, I have been involved in that project for the past eight, nine years, right. From the first brick itself and to what it is today. So it's a very special project for me. I think uh, it's making a lot of marks and is really making a statement for itself in Dubai and the segment it is in.

    Ling Yah: And another big thing that you are doing as well as that you are a director of Prestellar Venture. How did the idea of starting your own fund come about?

    Rahul Chaudhary: It all started with my dad's visit to California. My father was there and he mentored a very interesting gentleman. I'm forgetting the name of the company, but pretty much the guru you can say of startups.

    I mean, he had done multiple, startups having started buying, selling, getting them going monetizing. And he was really, really intrigued by the unicorn investments that you'll be spending years and years in turning it on one investment in here. An idea that is the likes of Facebook or the likes of your Google.

    I mean, these are companies that are not even making money today and are worth billions and billions and trillions of dollars. And there is no justification to it, ? I mean, these are all ideas. So that's when he started thinking that, you know, I must, and none of these many. Mid Nepalese entrepreneurs, but also writing to my father, tweeting to him and writing to him personally, that why don't you start something like this?

    There are so many aspiring Nepalese entrepreneurs around the world. They want to do something. They are in other countries as well, apart from Nepal, but technology and access to capital as well as access to the, startup ecosystem is much better. And that's what we do.

    My father tweeted. And he said that he wants to create this venture capital, which is going to be predominantly focusing on Nepalese, but also for other parties as well.

    Oh my gosh. When he made that tweet, he got thousands of people writing to him with ideas and opportunities. And that was the start. And we decided to start Prestellar ventures with a partner here and with a partner in Singapore, we made already three investments. Two in Singapore and one in India. And we decided to take it a little bit slow because of COVID and it's been really, really speculating, you know?

    So we've decided to make it a little bit slow. We've invested in 4, actually one more through our investment company called Torana with my local partner in Nepal who are also partners with me in hotels leading family here as well. So we have invested in these, we are continually looking at opportunities, but now our focus has more shifted towards and venture capital investments into well investments itself, rather than startups only.

    It could be in projects, it could be an acquisition. It could be a stake in a business that we don't possibly know, which has clear good fundamentals. So we are looking at investing still, but as venture capital investors not into startups.

    Ling Yah: You mentioned on the startups that you have already been involved in.

    I was looking into them and I was very intrigued that they were so different that you have student housing, logistics, IOT. What were the things that you were looking for that stood out among these companies?

    Rahul Chaudhary: It's all disruption. We were partners with people who already knew the segment, knew this market.

    It was very new to me. It is very new to CG from that perspective. So for us, the fundamentals were very clear that we see a strong disruptor. We see a segment that is only going to grow up and also the other parties that are involved in that venture.

    You know, we did not want to be a very, very small investor in that startup. We wanted to have a little bit of a significant stake so that there is an upside and one could downsale as well through a higher valuation.

    it's all about exploring newer horizons of business yet be careful in being able to recover your capital as one word balance thought, thinking of an entrepreneur with one who is venture capitalists.

    The thinking of both are very different. Completely different than entrepreneurial things differently than a venture capitalist venture capitalist is willing to take the risk.

    Venture capitalist is willing to take a minority position. A venture capitalist is willing to go through with an idea. An entrepreneur with one much more tangible ways to convince oneself that this is the right investment. If we had to do a lot of balancing between the two to come up with the right mix of investment as well.

    Ling Yah: Was it difficult for you to take on that VC hat since it's so different from what you've been doing all this time?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Well, it was more easy for me, but it was very difficult for my father because they could, you see, he comes from a very traditional way of investing. He comes from the position, as I mentioned of seeing is believing, , you're not seeing anything at all.

    It's all ideas that are evolving with technology. And we all meet to initially it was the same thing. I didn't even understand. I mean, if you really asked me till today, I do know the fundamentals of IOT, but I really don't know the technicalities of it at all. So I was investing in the business.

    So you see, there are a lot of these technicalities and I would never do it alone. I will definitely do it with someone who understands the space and that's what we did.

    Ling Yah: And another thing wanted to talk about before we wrap up is the foundation, which was founded in 1995. What was the thought behind starting a foundation.

    Rahul Chaudhary: this goes to the first question and second question you asked me, Ling that, uh, the fundamentals of any family business should be on how you can give back.

    Our core motto for our group is touching lives every day. And that doesn't necessarily mean only by way of products and services.

    It most importantly also means touching your lives and how you, are doing because everyone is not fortunate. People go through difficult times. The world goes through difficult times and it's in those times that a group's fundamentals and its emotions and attachment to the society.

    And its people comes to the forefront and we were always with that mindset to give back. But I think what completely changed on what became even more evidence was at the earthquake in 2015, When, , literally Nepal was sent back to its stone age as I would call it, you know?

    People lost their lives. People lost likelihood. They lost uh, just everything, in 2015 and we had to be in the forefront and that's what we did. since then, we've never looked back. I mean, every crisis that happens in this country, we are CG can proudly say that we are always the first ones to take the first step on how we can give back and how we can let's say, hold the bull by its horn and made sure that we support and help our people, you know,

    Ling Yah: At the time when the earthquake happened, didn't your father say that no matter what, we are not leaving this country, we're staying back to help.

    Rahul Chaudhary: Absolutely. You know, it was, uh, I clearly remember that meeting with the family, Ling. And um, , my father and myself and my elder brother Nirvana, we were actually at our safari. We launch in Chitwan when the earthquake happened, the biggest brunt of the earthquake actually came to my mother and my wife who were actually in the city in Kathmandu because Kathmandu was the worst hit, right.

    Away from the epicenter. And I remember us driving back to the Capitol and my dad held a meeting with the family and, you know, , all of us, so debating, what should we do? Oh, there's an earthquake that's happening every two hours. We keep getting the shaking of the earthquake all the time.

    We were discussing ideas.

    We have our homes all over the world. Maybe we should go away. We were all discussing. We never said that we were going to do that. But then my father said that, no, this is the time when we all have to remain together. This is the time when our own people, CG, its own family, all of our stakeholders and our employees need us including the country.

    And we are going to you to be here and tomorrow itself, we are going to start a drive by going to the most important areas and reaching out to the people in need. And I remember my wife and I, every single individual went to the most remote areas around the country to distribute food, tanks, torches, whatever we could, , because there's only so much you could do.

    And we did that and we are very, very happy that we did that. And, and we've stuck with that principle always, you know, even let's say during COVID .

    We could have literally gone to a country where vaccine is easily available, or life is much better. Like Dubai, right? Dubai has been literally up and down, but it's been opened virtually since the whole COVID.

    I could have done that. We all could have done that, but we never did that. We stayed here, we've gone through it with our people. We are willing to do that also all our lives, because we owe it to them.

    Ling Yah: And speaking of COVID, when was the first time you heard about it, and you realized that it could have very severe implications for your own personal lives and also your operations around the world?

    Rahul Chaudhary: You know, March 19th, 2020, when the government made that announcement that COVID has come and the country's going to be shut down. I mean, none of us knew what COVID is, right. We were all going into an uncharted territory knowing that there is a pandemic, there is no doubt about that, but you know what really changed my thinking, I will tell you, and this is the biggest value add that you get from a boarding school and interacting in colleges, you know, I.

    My father also said this, that his biggest resource in life and his biggest wealth is his network, not his net worth. I remember the week after the 19th , we had our group, my batch rates.

    We are about 76 of us that graduated the Doon school in India in 2001. So we all decided to set up a call just to share ideas of uh, it's all over the world. They're all in one with a woman. So it was very interesting to me that everyone was sharing their views of what they had to deal with and what they were dealing with in that part of the world.

    At that point, that my dad gave to me that this is not something that is going to be here for the short run. It is going to be held for the long run. And one must prepare for it. And you know, what better way to get feedback. My friends are literally in 34 countries around the world that covers all the continents around the world.

    And these guys are in different spheres of life doctors, professional spheres, financial institutions entrepreneurs, sports men travelers, bloggers. I mean startups, all spheres of life. Each of them had a fundamental thing to say. That right from the guy who's a Hawker stand, all the way to Bill Gates is being effected by this pandemic.

    And this pandemic is not going to go for any time soon. And here we are sitting today lane almost one and a half years later, you and me were discussing before this call that things are even getting tougher. And then yesterday the news I saw about India preparing for the third wave. Nepal is in its second wave. Now going into the third wave, Kenya is already crossing its third wave. Some countries are in it's fourth and fifth grade.

    So that call really changed my mindset that everyone is speaking the same language? And I recall that dinner also on the 29th or 30th of March 2020 I told my father that trust me.

    This is what I have discussed with my schoolmates. And we need to prepare ourselves for the long run. We should prepare ourselves with the three prong strategy. Survival, revival, and thrival. That should be the strategy that we should adopt. And immediately we have to relook at the business model of all our operations, whether it's food, whether it is hospitality, whether it is telecom, whether it is electronics, whatever it is, cement, hydroponic, whatever.

    We have to look at it from the point of view that now technology is going to take the forefront of everyone's life. And disruption is going to take the forefront. We have to evaluate our business from the perspective, whether we are going to even be existing in 10 years from now. And from the perspective that how are people going to continue their businesses and survive by way of technology.

    You'll see that technology has made the world this small when it was this big before. So that's when our entire process of restructuring our cost structure, reimagining our business models, rethinking our strategies, all of these came into the forefront. And would like to say, and with again, with all sense of humility and modesty, that all that we did right at the beginning has helped us now survive and we continue doing so otherwise we would not be able to even stand up or be with you right on having this interview, ?

    And I can tell you Ling that, I always say this to my wife and my father. That I've actually never worked so hard in my life as I have done since master March last year. And then yes, it has more been in terms of Zoom, which has also made things very efficient and very productive. Not saying that it should happen all the time because personal meetings are also very important.

    But the point I'm trying to tell you is that so much time and energy has gone to get this, to come to this survival mode. And we were just getting into revival at the end of last year, but now we are back to survival mode all over again. And I foresee that this is going to take some time.

    But you know what I mean, as we all say, don't try and control something that you can't control, try and control something of what you have control over. That's what you're trying to do.

    Ling Yah: You said you've made some changes to the business model. And I would say very successfully, like Vivanta is profitable. The farm is you have set before doing even better than before.

    What were the changes that you introduced that allow them to thrive in this time when most hotels can't even open?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Three different things are linked very simply. One would be the cost structures. I mean, the cost structures that you are operating with pre COVID, there is no way you can survive with the same cost structures.

    Absolutely no way. So you will have to look at efficient ways to reduce your costs, efficient ways to have engagement with your institutions and vendors. it is the first time I can tell you that every single party to a business came together. In the hotel business I'll tell you from vendors to your banks, to your customers, To your operators, to your owners, everyone came together because one cannot survive without the other.

    And everyone had to be compromises in order to survive. And they did that from the cost structures. Point of view. Number two, your business, mind, I mean, when you talk about Vivanta itself. Let me talk about that itself. We wouldn't have it on FNB hotels. We were an F&B hotel, but we never used to do delivery. I survived the entire COVID by way of FNB. By delivery. My F&B revenue was 85% of my total revenue every month.

    Third is with regards to be able to tap a completely different market, which was non-existent or not our focus. Take the example of the farm as well as the, Vivanta itself local market was not my focus. Even the farm. I never targeted on the local market. Because we felt they could not be able to afford to be in the price the whole year I've survived because of locals. It's amazing how much the locals are able to be given the option of being able to stay. They have no option, right? Everyone wants to take a holiday.

    Everyone wants to stay at a world class hotel. Everyone is shifting towards wellness and food. Everyone is shifting to wellbeing and that's what we offer. And that's what the local market gave you. So we opened a completely different market altogether for ourselves. And I can tell you that leisure wellness, experiential, these three markets are going to take the forefront of hospitality for years to come coming forward.

    I can tell you.

    Ling Yah: And what is next for you and for a CG hospitality. Is the vision 2025 still present?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Absolutely. Vision of 2025 is still very much present and active. And in process, obviously, in terms of our plans, some may have been delayed. Some may have been put aside, but we are very much on target towards our vision itself.

    We continue to look at investment opportunities. We continue to look at ways to grow our current businesses. So we are very much on target towards that goal.

    Ling Yah: We have spoken so much about your family and how it's influenced what you are doing. What are the strengths and challenges of bearing the Chaudhary legacy?

    Rahul Chaudhary: The strength is also the biggest challenge. And I'll tell you. Strength is something that what all our past generations have created for us, a system a reputation that is the most important that has been created by our forefathers and continues to do so in terms of our reputation in the global arena.

    I would say the businesses and the platform that has already been set. I think the biggest challenge would be for us as everyone would say to bear, not the burden, I would say to be able to keep up and where my father's shoes. I think that would be the biggest challenge for us to be able to achieve.

    But I think that three of us together, hopefully we'll be able to make him proud and be able to fill his shoes.

    Ling Yah: Is there anyone in your industry that's doing something you admire and why is that?

    Rahul Chaudhary: What I would say that I do admire lots of entrepreneurs. I wouldn't say specifically towards a certain sector of business.

    I would say someone like your Ravent Tata, from Tata son, I mean, he's a huge, huge inspiration to me and seeing what is his philosophy of life, and yet running one of the most ethical and the most successful businesses in India is just phenomenal and how he has done it.

    I would also say when you are talking about, I mean, I would say role model, I would say my father in itself. my father is Binod Chaudhary. Not, not as my father. I mean, we have a lot to learn from where he came from. And where he is today that has taught us a lot in life in terms of balancing all aspects of life itself.

    And third, I would say from the perspective of giving back and taking care of people, as well as making you believe the importance of being happy. Our guru Siri Shanker from Ottawa. I mean, he has a very, very big bearing and very big influence in our lives, you know. That's why I wanted to state the three people.

    One is from the perspective of the vision of how one can take a company from where it is to where it should be. That would be Mr. Ratan, Tata and my father. And. One person likes to shoot Shanker, who brings about the aspect that success is not only monetary. It is other things as well. Family. Wellbeing. Personal attention.

    It is your happiness peace and that all these are fundamentals to your, wholesome and a happy life.

    Ling Yah: And before we wrap up, is there anything you believe in that you feel most people don't?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Again, this is touching upon the fundamentals of the first and second question again. , I believe that lots of families in our generation now tend to forget where they came from. And they tend to forget that they have a responsibility towards the legacy that has been created and they have a responsibility towards the future generation, , and a legacy is created for continuity.

    Our legacy is created for passing it onto the future generations. A legacy and history is created so that your future generations can also grow up learning those fundamentals so that the foundations are very, very strong. I mean, I feel in a way that has, and that is up to you also my fear.

    Because I believe that as generations keep getting built, I believe that there is that risk of this being lost in translation somewhere.

    That is very important. Then we take on the responsibility to create that bridge and continuity year after year.

    People do take things for granted.

    And I think people are too dependent on technology and digitization. They end up forgetting the fundamentals and core of life and itself, and maybe I'm appointing to that sometimes as well, but I'm working on it, I'm working on it. And I hope I'm able to balance that out.

    Ling Yah: So speaking of legacy, have you thought about your own legacy and what kind of legacy you would want to leave behind?

    Rahul Chaudhary: I think I am a part of a family. Proud so. A Nepalese family of the only multinational Nepalese families. and we want to continue that legacy. we all know our part whether it is from business or giving back or from our family and the continuity we want to continue growing our horizon all over the world.

    We want to continue being able to be called. I mean everyone should feel proud. Every Nepalese around the world should feel proud to say. That is a company that is a multinational and is in that platform, you know, we started off, the first company ever to hoist our flag in our hotel in Taj JLT.

    And every time a Nepali passes that hotel, whether it's a taxi driver, whether it is an entrepreneur, whether it is a customer, he looks at that flag and proudly says that that is my country's flag. And that flag has been put by the CG group, which is a Nepali group. And nothing gives us more joy and satisfaction.

    When we hear that feeling, you know,, appreciation is the most satisfying parameter for a success of a company and appreciation comes in various different ways. Whether you give back, whether you create something, whether you do something with people, maybe we used to do it.

    And our focus is to continue on that mission.

    Ling Yah: Wasn't there a taxi driver who told your dad that that hotel belongs to Nepali not knowing that your father put that flag out there?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Yes, absolutely. And that's what I mentioned in the past, the last question as well. I mean, just imagine and I'm saying this with all, again, a sense of modesty and humility. Here is uh, the only billionaire from Nepal.

    And this will tell you the whole fundamentals of Family business and of an entrepreneur who has not forgotten his roots and who has not forgotten where he comes from and has built that foundation of respect and trust for others and continues to grow. I mean, you see my father traveling in a taxi in Dubai, within the party was showing him the flag, which he hoisted and telling him I am so proud. You see that flag? That is my flag created by a Nepalese company.

    I hope that can easily sum up to you what we are trying to do as CG and what we as individuals of the Chaudhary family are aspiring to do. I hope this is a nutshell summarizes our entire interview.

    Ling Yah: And do you feel like you have found your why?

    Rahul Chaudhary: I believe so. I believe so. I feel from a business point of view, I think I've stated that in many of the questions that you have always asked me, I would say, even finding my why from a personal point of view and family point of view, also, I think I have found that.

    Most importantly, I would like to say finding my wife, I'm working towards it, but I will say finding my, why would be when I'll be able to fully balance the five pillars in my life.

    And the five pillars are your business, your family, your personal self, your friends and the society. All of these are five fundamental pillars of knowing yourself that you've reached that why.

    And each pillar is very, very important. Life is a very dynamic miracle. You learn along the way and you evolve around along the way. So let's see.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?

    Rahul Chaudhary: One is humility.

    I mean, it's great to have a vision and a dream, but you must also have a plan of action to be able to reach that vision and dream. And that willingness to be able to go to any extent, to reach that dream.

    You know, when I left college right Ling my father sat me down and you know, was a veteran, good soccer player and he asked me, so now what do you want to do?

    I was thinking that, , that I, and a good soccer player, maybe I want to give it a shot. And you know what he said is that I have absolutely no issue in you following or wanting to do whatever you want in your life, but just remember whatever you wish to do, be the best at it. And don't settle for anything less.

    Now, if you're able to remember that and follow through with your ambitions, sky's the limit. Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve what you want to do, but have a clearly chartered out plan to be able to reach them.

    I can also tell you that world has evolved in such a way that there is always someone who is going to believe in your wordiness, as well as believe in what you have created.

    It's a process of time of finding that niche for yourself, but stay at it and I'm sure you'll be able to achieve.

    Ling Yah: And where can people go to find out more about what you and the CGI is doing?

    Rahul Chaudhary: Go online.

    The world has become so small that you can just type a game and everyone can see what we are doing nowadays.

    But I think it all comes from people also noticing what all we are doing and wonderful people like yourselves who want to discuss with us in our own humble way, whatever we managed to create and spread the news. I think where we would start on where they can read about what we have done is in your channel itself.

    Ling Yah: And is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't covered yet?

    Rahul Chaudhary: No, I think I pretty much covered the 360. I hope that I've covered all aspects here of m y humble journey and my humble life and wherever you want to be in years to come.

    The whole idea in anyone's life, it may sound cliche, but I believe that we are here for a purpose and we want to leave behind the legacy that people will remember. And the legacy that has touched people's lives and something that people will always remember you for.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 53.

    The show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/53. Alongside a link to subscribe to the weekly newsletter for this podcast.

    And stay tuned for next Sunday, because we'll be meeting a Russian artist and illustrator known for drawing with paper. And one who's often credited for pioneering contemporary paper quilling. With her original artworks being owned by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Wimbledon, Paramount Pictures and the San Francisco museum of modern arts.

    If you want to learn more, see next Sunday.

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