Rahul Salgia, Founder and CEO of DigiValet, recently got into an exclusive chat with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list. Giving us an insight into DigiValet, Rahul Salgia said, “DigiValet is known for its guest-room solutions. We have some of the most iconic hotels in the world on our clientele. DigiValet is installed in hotels like Ralphs in Singapore, Armani in Burj Khalifa in Dubai, The W in London. We serve some of the most iconic hotels to offer the best guest-room experience that want to offer to their guests. “
As the world grapples through Covid-19 pandemic, DigiValet has come up with a unique contactless check-in solution called ‘Through’ that can potentially revolutionise the hotel industry. Talking about Through, Mr Salgia said, “Through is a new offering for contactless check-in. When a guest has an upcoming reservation, he receives an SMS from the hotel, saying that you have an upcoming reservation and displays a personalised link. The moment the guest clicks on the link, he gets re-directed to the check in page where he can put his id, credit card details and that’s all. He doesn’t need to go to the front office to give his card, take his credit card back, probably share anything with the front office. Thereby, keeping himself and the front office executive safe.”
“In this process, the guest also saves a lot of time. Nobody wants to wait in a queue or wait at the front office to get a key. This is not just a contact less solution, this is a change in the way check-ins are going to happen in the future,“ Mr Salgia added.
When asked if it was the pandemic that inspired him to come up with the idea of ‘Through’, Mr Salgia shared, “We had the technology to do contactless check-in, which we were using for luxury hotels for in-room personalised check-in. When the pandemic happened, we realised that there would be a new world. We thought we should re-purpose the technology that we have, to produce something that will be suitable for contact-less check-in, avoid personal check-in and make this whole solution usable even after the pandemic.”
He expressed, “This is something we designed during the pandemic and then the whole thought was to democratise the technology. We thought we offer our technology to a few luxury hotels but why not democratise this and make it available to every possible hotel. Our entire team worked overtime from home and made the technology possible for hotels as they are opening now.”
On his plans to offer the technology to other industries, Mr Salgia said, “Through is specifically designed for hotels but DigiValet is getting into more verticals. We are getting into healthcare as hospitals are trying to bring in patient-room solutions. We are also trying to bring in solutions for senior living –residential solutions for senior living and service residences. “
Starting a business, especially if it is novel, is not easy. Mr Salgia too had his share of challenges. He told NewsX that while starting out, his challenges were primarily two-fold. “Firstly, when you come up with an innovative idea, you try and take it to customers. Everyone likes innovative ideas but the next question they ask is where is it installed and who is using it. It is a quite ironic. They want the most novel idea but at the time they want it to be proven.”
“The second challenge was the ‘Made In India’ tag. Today, all Indians feel a sense of nationalism when we speak of Made In India but it was not the same 10 years ago. India and premium products don’t go together. Normally, premium products come in from Europe or Germany so we also had that baggage in those days. Gradually, people approached us when they had technology challenges and threw a challenge at us saying, ‘If you can fix this, then you have the job’. The turning point came when we were able to successfully deliver it. People started believing that an Indian company like DigiValet can deliver such solutions,” he added.
Sharing his views on Atmanirbhar Bharat and how self-reliant is India in the technology space, Mr Salgia said, “I have a different opinion on technology and Atmanirbhar Bharat. While we have 200 billion dollar software industry, we are not even close to being a leader in product technology. There is a long way ahead. We have great amount of talent and technology but we don’t use it for ourselves. We are only outsourcing jobs. We are working for other companies. This is the time when entrepreneurs in India have to realise that we have to build technology and world’s best products in India. This is just the beginning. If people think in the right direction, time will not be far when we can actually make great world-class technology products. Only then, we would be able to rightly call ourself ‘Atmanirbhar’.”
When asked what are the challenges for India in becoming truly Atmanirbhar, Mr Salgia responded, “Technology entrepreneurship is quite a gamble. I would say entrepreneurship is lacking among large groups. Secondly, the investment ecosystem isn’t as conducive in other countries like United States. “
After hotels and hospitals, DigiValet is now working towards offering technological solutions to senior and residential living. He said, “Senior living would be on a priority, as we believe that the trend to move to communities focused on later life is on rise. Not just in western world but also in India and some of other markets. Moreover, Technology will play an important role in making life comfortable for later lifers. We are already building these products, already signed some contracts with some interesting projects in London and some other markets, where we will be using technology to monitor their goals like walking steps, water consumption, health targets and how they are working towards them. We are also working on a very innovative technology to predict what would be the impact of aging on people so we are bringing a lot of solutions around senior people.”
“All of our residential solutions are going to be self-use. The residential market is very large and diverse. We are trying to focus on few markets and few services where we can make it a successful model and then grow it towards larger community,“ he added.
On a parting note, Mr Salgia gave a piece to advise to all new age entrepreneurs, especially those who dream big but quit quickly. He said, ”Don’t run for valuation. Once you have a successful business, when you have customers believing in you, everything will happen. This is a reverse trend to what is happening right now but that is the mantra to success.”