With a go getter attitude and positive outlook, Sajan Varghese is a true entrepreneur. His journey from an interior design contractor to venturing into movie production, in flight services, hotels and resorts shows that there are no limitations if you dare to dream BIG.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before choosing this field?
I was born in a Middle Class Christian Family in Kottayam. Did my schooling and college studies there. By the time I joined for my degree studies, I was more interested in establishing friendships and enhancing my social capital, and studies became secondary.
Those days, the aim of most youngsters was to somehow obtain a degree, and find a secure job and settle down. But I felt that a regular job offers only limited opportunities for growth and upward mobility. I trusted that running one’s own business would generate more satisfaction than working for someone else.
Thus, I began my entrepreneurial journey doing interior designing contract works for big jewellery shops in Kerala. Thereafter, I ventured into production of movies in Malayalam and Tamil from 1981-1991 in the banner ‘SAJ Productions’ and created 29 successful movies. Later on started in-flight catering business in 1991 under the company ‘SAJ Flight Services’ headquartered at Chennai with branches in Bangalore, Trivandrum, Cochin, Calicut and Delhi, serving various international and domestic airlines until 2010.
How did you land up doing what you do now?
Looking at the growth and huge potential of tourism in Kerala and to diversify the portfolio, I decided to invest in this sunrise industry at that time, and started acquiring properties in potential areas. Thus I set up our first resort – SAJ Vagamon Hideout at Vagamon in 2003, thereafter SAJ Jungle Village at Thekkady in 2004, and SAJ Earth Resort at Cochin in 2009. Meanwhile, we acquired SAJ Luciya – a business hotel in Trivandrum too.
What keeps you motivated?
The potential for tourism in Kerala is the most motivating factor, although my ‘dreams’ make my way through. Kerala is truly “God’s own country” gifted with natural and beautifully landscaped greenery, rivers, backwaters, sea shore, beaches, mountains and high ranges, which is not found in any other part of the world.
How do you plan to stay ahead of your competitors?
We focus on quality services. Our personalised and tailor-made services makes us unique, and differentiate us from our competitors. We serve regional and traditional cuisines in the most authentic manner, which also attracts foreigners.
If not the current profession, what would you have been?
Probably, I might have been working as a clerical staff in one of the private banks..!
Was your family supportive of what you are doing? What impact have they had on your life?
My family is very supportive, without which I wouldn’t have reached where I am now. My wife, Mini Sajan is the CEO of my company. Since we do not have children, my nephew is the successor of our company, and he is now one of the director of the company.
What are your plans for the next 2 years?
We have already acquired land for developing resorts in Marari beach, Alleppey and in Kumarakom. We intend to commission each of these, one by one, during the forthcoming years, again dependent on the Government policies, which is not always encouraging.
What does a typical day at work consist of for you?
Whenever I am in office, I do more of criticism, rather than appreciation, for better outcomes. I believe only appreciation will slow down one’s efficiency, and he/she feels they are close to perfection.
Any regrets till now? If yes, will you like to share it with our readers?
No regrets in my life. I take everything in a positive way. I convert and drive the negatives to a positive pathway. I dream a lot, which I advise to every reader. There is nothing which you would lose, but it would certainly be something BIG, if you fulfil your dream.
If you were given a choice of meeting any person you want from your field, who will be that person? What will you ask that person?
I would choose to meet Mr.Ratan Tata whose company has similar business lines as that of mine, viz., in-flight catering, hotels & resorts, etc. Mr.Ratan Tata had once revealed that he was close to getting married four times, but each time he backed off in fear…! I would ask him why he failed to chose a companion for his life, though he has become a successful businessman.
I believe that there is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
Any message that you want to send to your readers
Think BIG. Dream big! Imagine that you have no limitations, and then decide what’s right before you decide what’s possible. Do not get disappointed with your failures. Convert every failure to lessons for prevention of failures.
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