Dec 25, 2022

Nidhi Agarwal

Nidhi Agarwal is the Founder, CEO of Book a Workshop – the largest home of DIY kits. Nidhi is on a mission to help people learn and explore new things through experiences they will never forget! Previously, she founded three companies. Nidhi is also a Trustee in several prestigious schools.

Episode Highlights

  • (0:00:00) – Nitin Pajaj welcomes Nidhi Agarwal to the show
  • (0:00:14) – Nidhi started Booker workshop 30 years ago to help people learn
  • (0:07:34) – DIy kits started in January and have reached 30,000 people
  • (0:10:28) – As you are scaling, what’s the biggest challenge you’re facing
  • (0:14:43) – What’s one moment where you found success that blew your own expectations
  • (0:18:05) – There are more times that I have failed as compared to my wins
  • (0:20:55) – Nitin shares his three biggest life lessons with us

Show Transcript

Transcript - Full Episode

Nitin Bajaj: (0:00:00) – Hey, everyone. Welcome to the industry show. I’m your host, Nitin Pajaj. And joining me today is Nidhi Agarwal. Nidhi, welcome on the show. Hi.


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:00:09) – Thank you. Super, super excited to be here.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:00:13) – Likewise. Great to have you here. So let’s start with who is Nidhi?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:00:18) – Well, Nidhi, the first thing that you will always see about me and you’ll spot me with it, my hair, I think it’s become slightly iconic. Wherever I go, people just recognize me with the hair. But other than that, I am a learner. I love learning new things, knowing about what’s happening around me. I love experimenting. I love asking a lot of questions because that’s something that people will get from me. I love acting. I love singing. I’m a certified bathroom singer. I also do sing when I’m drunk. I sing pretty well when I’m drunk. But, yeah, all of these resulted in me actually starting this thing called Booker workshop. All of my learnings over the years have been able to do that today.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:01:15) – That’s really awesome. By the way, I’m also a bathroom singer. I’m not certified, though, so I need to learn that from you.


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:01:22) – I’ll send you the link.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:01:24) – So all of your learnings, your curiosity has ended up in a book of workshop. So tell us more about it. What is it? What’s the goal, the mission, the vision? And more importantly, why do this?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:01:39) – So Booker workshop stemmed from a very simple idea. It wanted to help people learn. Right? It wanted to cross barriers, cross boundaries, because we were literally in the peak of the lockdown. This is June of 2020 when we started this. And we wanted to connect the best people on this planet to people who wanted to learn from them. Right. That was the first idea that we started with. The core always being to help people learn from there. It stemmed into helping people learn better and to create memories while you’re doing it. Right. So we started as a platform that helped people book a workshop, literally, with experts around the world. Right. It was an online platform. In our first year itself, actually, we garnered about 25,000 learners from over 300 cities and some 30 od countries where people could learn calligraphy. Devnagari calligraphy from the best person in India. He’s practically like the Amitabh Bachchan of Devnagri calligraphy. That’s Mr. Archit Palav, artist. Archit Palav. We got a lot of film directors, movie actors. We got some very interesting people from the makeup and styling industry. We got people who were phds and teaching people about rocketry and how to get into NASA and all those kind of things as well. So we had that whole spectrum covered. So one thing that we figured when we were doing this entire bit is that people have a lot of interests, right? Today, because we live in this day and age where we have access to so much information, not only through Google and places where you go to find information, but also places like social media, which is just giving you random pieces of information constantly. So people have developed various interests in various things, and they want to explore a lot of things, right? So learning is not singular anymore. Like, let’s say 30 years ago when we were growing up in an age without a lot of access to Internet or without a lot of access to information per se and technology, of course, we had very singular or limited interests. A person would have a maximum of two to three interests and would spend his entire life knowing a couple of things. Now, we are at a point where one single person could have a minimum of three interests and a maximum of eight to nine interests, and they want to learn more, explore more, figure out if that’s the one thing that they’d like to do more in and stuff. So we kind of use that information, use that point of research, use the fact that people want to learn from the best and the fact that they want to have a hands on learning experience. So people learn in multiple formats. There’s a whole theory about teaching, right? So why I am able to say all of this is because I was practically born into a school. My parents own a couple of schools back in the city called nasik. And while I was being raised, I used to hear everything about curriculums, teaching methods, teaching styles, how would children want to learn and this and that. So, I mean, teaching and learning has been a part of my everyday conversation, probably even though it was not a direct conversation, it was always like an indirect conversation that I had. So people have multiple learning styles, right? Some people like to learn by reading. Some people like to learn by listening. Some people like the audio visual, like me. Some people like to first understand just a little bit, like give it to them in 30 to 30 seconds to a minute just to understand over what it is, figuring out if they’re interested in it, and then they’d like to go deeper. So multiple learning styles. So looking at these three major touch points into the world of learning, Booker workshop grew from just being a platform that helped people connect with the best experts to learn in a certain way, to it designing the way people learned. And that extended into this thing called DIY kits. That is do it yourself kits, where even the fourth thing that is people just thinking about, okay, one day I will learn about this. To getting a box which has everything you need in it, along with a QR code, so that you can never say that, achamaya Karunga, or you can never say that, okay, someday I will do this when I have all the resources. There’s nothing left. There’s no barrier left. So we come to this point where Booker workshop is now creating, or co creating 70 different type of DIY kits, all based on learner interest, the way they like to learn. And obviously, on top of all of that, trying to give them everything that they need so that they don’t have to go around looking for anything, and then there’s no barrier. So each of our kids comes with this QR code. When you scan the QR code, there’s a video workshop that opens up right on your phone. So you can access this at nine in the morning, three in the morning, late at night, when you’ve just got off work. And you need like a destressor when you’re sitting with your friends, your family. So it’s become a great way for people to learn anything and everything that they wanted. So imagine learning how to make your own wine at home with a box that’s delivered to your doorstep. Imagine making sushi at home with your friends and family. Imagine having a french press, but never knowing what all can it do. But with this kit, you actually know everything that one french press in your house or the one that comes in the kit can do for you.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:07:23) – It’s super amazing. So you’re providing access, you’re removing barriers, you’re feeding people’s curiosity, and you’re exposing them to so many different avenues. Just on your website. Right, I know we talked about, yeah, you have some pretty amazing numbers. You mentioned about the workshop numbers, but tell us about between these 70 different kits, how many people have you given this opportunity to just not have any opportunity to procrastinate?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:07:59) – So we started these DIY kits this year, January of this year, and from January to now, November. Towards the end of November, we’ve been able to reach out to more than 30,000 people with these kind of kids. And it’s been a very fun journey. So when it started in January, these were just kids going out. Right. It was numbers on an excel sheet, and we were trying to maximize on the numbers, at least for January and February. But something changed for us in March. That is one story that came to us that completely changed the way we started looking at these DIy kits, right? So what happened is that there was this one lady, she must be in her late 60s, right? She happened to order this DIY kit from us, and she sent us these long messages, okay? And at first, when I just looked at the sheer length of the message, I was like, okay, this is probably a complaint. I don’t know what went wrong. And then we ended up reading the whole thing. And it was such a beautiful thing. I think half my team almost cried, like, reading that whole thing. So this was a lady whose kids lived in the US, right? And because of the pandemic, and obviously because of whatever green card issues, is that they couldn’t visit her as often. They obviously called, they texted, they video called, but they couldn’t come as often as they’d like to. So for almost ten years, they were struggling to come back, meet her and things like that. And when they did come, she didn’t know how to communicate with them, right? Because it had been a decade they went as teenagers. Now. They were full grown adults with families and kids and things like that. So she ordered, like, a couple of kids from us for the kids and for the parents and for herself. And they ended up spending a great night together where they didn’t really have to address the distance. What they had to do was just sit down and have fun. And she was just so happy about it that we actually started realizing the power of these kids, right? So these are just not kids going out and people trying to do something with it. But there are such powerful stories that are attached to each of these kids going out and the kind of opportunities, the kind of things that they create.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:10:22) – For other people, such powerful inspiration and motivation. Tell me, what’s the. As you are scaling, as you are growing, this is still essentially your first year as you have, not a negative term, but a good thing that you have pivoted into this. What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:10:44) – So, currently, the biggest challenge that we’re facing is ourselves, because all of us do not come from a background of diy kits, do not come from a background of packaging these into boxes and productizing, per se. So I myself have been a services person for most of my life, right? Whatever. My nine years of my working life, I’ve been a services person. And now that we’ve completely switched flip. I mean, even if you look at a school, right, even I’ve seen services go out of a school. It’s kids, it’s people. There’s no product, really. So it’s a completely different world specifically for me, because it’s a product world, right? We have to detach ourselves. The services that we give a person completely. The product has to be the hero. The product is what goes to the final person. So that mental switch happened for us a couple of months back, which was super fun to look at. And the other big challenge that we’re facing right now is just the sheer scale of it with how people are receiving the product, how much they’re loving it and the possibilities. I think even the operations part of it is manageable. But imagine this, Nitin, today, when you look at a certain product, let’s say food. Food is something that is universally accepted, acknowledged and present in every country possible. So if you see what are the use case scenarios of one dish, of probably, let’s say one subway that you pick up on the way, you buy it, either for yourself to consume it, or you buy it for somebody else, or you buy multiple for your team, maybe, but that’s all that has to do with that one product. But imagine this one kit. Now, this one kit can be bought for yourself as a self learning thing. It could be bought for a group where multiple people are trying to do something. Because all the material that we give is not for one person. We give at least three to four more tries for that one person to experiment more, do more. So a whole group, like, let’s say a group of three to four people can do it. The same kit can be gifted to somebody as an anniversary gift, a birthday gift, because it’s, again, interest based, right? So let’s say somebody who has an interest in Devnagri calligraphy, you will gift them a Dev Nagri calligraphy kit. People bring this in for date nights. People bring this in for family get togethers. Like there was this one group who, where 25, 30 members of the family were getting together, they just bought a couple of kids from us and they were doing this together as a great fun activity. Then there are people who are using this as an entry thing for a new employee joining into a company. People are using these as Diwali gifts, corporate gifts in bulk. Also, there are mothers who are using our kids as return gifts or party favors for their birthday parties. We are also now pushing these out into hotels. So let’s say when you go to a hotel which doesn’t have too many facilities for kids, as soon as you walk in at the reception, you get this one kit for you and the kid to experiment together. We’re exploring certain possibilities with airlines where they could give these kits in airlines to kids and adults who just want to sit down and experiment. Captive audience. Right. They don’t have too much to do there. So with one kit, we have found out about ten to twelve possibilities. Now, the bigger challenge is that if we’ve been able to crack ten to twelve possibilities, how many more could there be?


Nitin Bajaj: (0:14:19) – True. Super amazing. And in that challenge also lies the opportunity. Right. So this is super cool, and I’m not surprised that you have got the traction that you have. The numbers are really amazing, and to apply that services mindset to exploring these many different opportunities is just phenomenal. So let’s look back in your journey the couple of years here and going back a little bit in your nine year career. What’s that one moment where you found success that blew your own expectations? You shared a couple of stories. Is there one event or one incident that stands out that you look back and say, I just cannot believe that this happened?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:15:14) – So I originally hailed from this small town called Nasik. Right now, it’s a great town. It’s a very quiet space and things, but every time I went to a party or, like, a social outing or things like that, I would hear people gossip or talk about the setting right there or things like that. But I would never really hear people talk about any intellectual conversation or any real discussion, per se. And then there was this one moment in my entire timeline that existed for me in Nasik, where we organized a TEDx. In Nasik, I put my entire heart and soul into my first, very first TEDx. It’s called the TEDx Serene Meadows, because that’s an area in NASA. And, Nitin, what changed for me is the first break. So we had, like, four speakers lined up before our first break at that event. And as soon know, there was a little breakfast right before the entire event started. So I saw Achawai log. The same people came in. So sorry. The same people came in, and they were having the breakfast, and their conversations were just the same stuff that I expected for them to happen. And my heart sank a little bit because I’m like, probably. I don’t know if I’m creating an impact, right? Because the bigger thing for me is for people to be able to create an impact in people’s lives to help them learn something. And my heart just sang. I’m like, I don’t think I’m doing a great job. And then with that emotion, I just sat down. I sat through, like, four talks. I loved them. I mean, I was so excited. And what changed for me is as soon as the first break happened, when people stepped out and they were standing on those high tables, and I just took, like, around to get some food and see what, say hello, the conversation changed. The conversation completely flipped. I could see them talking and discussing about the ideas that were just said in the whole thing inside. And I could see them discuss. I could see them brainstorm. I could see them speak to new people, people who they had never seen before. And that was unheard of in that space. And that kind of flipped a switch in my head. It was such a small thing. It was just 100 people. It was not too many people. I mean, we’ve done way bigger events. We’ve run events for, like, 12,000 people, right? But that one little congregation of 100 people, their discussions made me feel like I truly have achieved something here because their conversation flipped. The way they looked at the world probably flipped. The things that they were talking about flipped. So, yeah, I think that’s been one of my biggest achievements till date. The first big achievement for me.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:17:58) – And that feeling is so unique, so powerful. It brings so much joy and confidence. On the flip side, as a converse to this success, has there been an incident or a moment where you had expected certain results and that just didn’t happen?


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:18:19) – Lot of times, honestly, I think there are more times that I have failed as compared to my wins. And I think that happens in most cases.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:18:31) – It’s hard for me to believe that, given that you are such a powerhouse. But I’ll take your word for it.


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:18:37) – No. So one thing that comes with me as a person is I think a lot of people might experience this, is that we get a lot of ideas, right? We get at least 20 to 30, 40 ideas in a day, most of us. What happens with me is I act on them. I act on almost every other idea that I feel I’m in love with. And because I’m experimenting so much, there might not be a lot of times that those ideas succeed, right? And that’s when I see a lot of failure. I see failure on a daily basis, because, again, even with so many products, there are things which are very close to my heart, and I want to launch them as products, but probably people don’t want them, but I want to push the products out. So sometimes it so happens that those products are very well accepted by people and they become a hit. Like, for example, there was this one product that my entire team contested against. They’re like, no, I don’t think we should be doing this. But I really just pushed through I’m like, no, we have to do this. I’m not taking no for an answer. And that was our paw printing kit. So it was this one range for pets that I wanted to start and where you have this thing where you can literally print. Let me just check if I have it. Anyway, I’ll show it to you. It’s a very cute one. So you can just print your paws, your pets paw on this surface, and it stays, and you can paint on it and things. It’s a very simple idea. Very cute. And that rolled out really well. Now, I know we’re selling like, 2300. We just started ten days ago, and we’re selling like some 2300 of those every week, almost. So that was one idea that succeeded, but there were at least 100 ideas that did not. Right? So, because I think I have this thing to push through and execute almost every other idea, it leads to a lot of failure, but it also leads to those three or four or five, those handful ideas that fly really well.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:20:43) – That’s very important to keep experimenting, to keep true to ourselves, saying, we’re going to try things. Some may work, some may not. So that’s the right spirit to have. Let’s talk about what we learn from these failures, which is life lessons. And this is my favorite part of the show. Would love to hear some of your one line life lessons.


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:21:10) – I think my first one line, right. No explanation. I think one big lesson that I got to learn through all my years of working and just being a kid is ask the right questions. I think that will be my number one life lesson, because a lot of people say that, ask questions, but nobody really puts the word right in it, because only if you ask the right questions will you get the right answer. Right, and only then will you be able to move in the right direction. So, asking the right questions is a very big part of who I am today. And if I ever give a TED talk, I think one of the ideas will literally be this. The second thing that I think is a big life lesson, and I think it’s used like a million times, said a million times. But I would love to say it again, is don’t stop learning and don’t stop unlearning. Because I think a lot of times we keep learning, but we end up not unlearning. There are so many things that I learned as a kid which I needed to unlearn in order to grow as a person, in order to grow as a human, as an entrepreneur, as a person who’s a part of family, or so many more things. So we do learn but do not forget to unlearn. And I think the third most important life lesson that I would like to share is the fact that don’t stop being a child, don’t lose your excitement. Because the day you lose your excitement is the day two things will happen. One is life will just be very boring, honestly. And second is people won’t join in your excitement. People won’t connect with you. Sir. One major I personally think, I think my husband and my mother contest this, but I feel that a very big part of me being what I am today, who I am today and whatever little success I’ve garnered over the years is because of how excited I am as a person. So if I love something dearly and if I’m totally involved in it, I get supremely excited about it and I make sure that I get everybody around me excited about it even if they’re not involved in it. Even my watchman will know what I’m excited about in work and he will also get excited with me. So I think if you are excited about something, spread that excitement, spread that joy and more people will buy into your excitement and your joy. And that just helps not only about sales, it just helps as a community, in your business, as your team. So, yeah, don’t let the excitement die down and show it. I think these are my three big life lessons.


Nitin Bajaj: (0:24:28) – Nidhi, thank you so much for sharing not just the life lessons but also that energy, that excitement. It is infectious and you should continue that. And congratulations on all your success so far and kudos to you for steering the ship and firing on all cylinders. We wish you the continued success and thank you once again for being here to share your journey and your story with us.


Nidhi Agarwal: (0:24:57) – Thank you so much. Nitin, thanks a lot for this energy.



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