We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Desai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
I see taking risks as opportunities as taking a chance on something without knowing what the outcome will be. To me, risk is a positive word characterized by looking at the upside of a situation. Whenever I think about something that’s “risky”, I feel more motivated to pursue it. In my life, I took a risk to pursue studies in advertising and entrepreneurship (even though my mom prayed I became a doctor – love you, mom!). I took a risk to start a company selling collegiate licensed watches hoping they would sell (even though I had no idea if they would). I took a risk to move to New York right after college for a corporate job I would later quit in 4 short months and then eventually take the risk to start 2 companies with my amazing business partner. I have to say, the risks taken so far have been the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Since I was a young one, I knew I wanted to start some sort of business. After I danced out of the womb, I would sell everything from lemonade and flowers to watches and body jewelry. When I was in High School, I would sell Halloween Horror Nights tickets every year (since I could get them on discount and up the margins). Then, I created handmade and handpainted dandiyas (Indian dancing sticks) and sold them at seasonal events by setting up tables outside the event and convincing people to buy them from me versus the go-to supplier. In college, I started a company that sold Collegiate licensed watches and would hustle outside the UF football stadium selling my products while my friends tailgated. I knew I wanted to start a business after college as soon as I found another problem to solve. It was after my move to New York City, that I would eventually start Bollywood Touch with my business partner and good friend, Sanchi. We saw the demand for South Asian entertainment in New York City and decided to start the company. After we started Bollywood Touch, we had the itch to keep going so we launched another venture called Content Karma, where we employed 20 people to assist with the content development of a mobile app for the automotive company Triple A. I’m very fortunate to have had an amazing business partner all the way through!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My ideal week in Miami would include: eating at my favorite restaurant located in South of 5th Street – Planta (If you’re in Miami and don’t go to Planta, you’re not truly living). Also on the list, Lagniappe for live Jazz (and bottles of wine – who could ask for more?), Astra for a fun deep house rooftop vibe, Malakor Thai Isaan in Coral Gables for the best Thai around (say hello to Yotin who will treat you like family). My favorite area is Wynwood for all things artsy. In Wynwood, I suggest checking out Wynwood Walls, Mr. Wright’s Gold Digger Saloon, Mandolin, 1-800 Lucky for all the Asian persuasion and dance parties. One of my ultimate favorite spots is Sacred Space where you can take an inner journey through chakra healing, breathwork, yoga classes and The Class (very importantly, it’s annexed to Plant Miami – delicious plant-based food for any and every meal of the day). In Little River, check out Cafe Roval with amazing food and a great ambiance. Saturdays, of course, are for Glaser Farms Organic Farmer’s Market in Coconut Grove!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My decision to pursue a creative career comes from my father. I definitely give him credit for influencing me to take this path as he is an artist and worked most of his life as an Art Director with the Toronto Sun – a prominent newspaper in Canada. As an immigrant from India, he took a unique route by choosing to pursue a career in the arts. It’s funny because my career path runs in parallel with his and its pretty cool to see how many similarities we have! I still always bounce ideas off of him and he gives me the best advice. I also have to give a huge shoutout to my husband, Tushar, our families, and our amazing friends who support my business in every way and are always here to help me succeed.