Bhavna Juneja: US-based entrepreneur, empowering women and revolutionising real estate in India

Being an entrepreneur isn’t just something you do, it’s something you are. It’s not something which everyone could, or indeed should, do. However, some individuals clearly thrive on the challenge and love to change the world for the better. Bhavna Juneja is one of those individuals.

Bhavna is Global Vice President-IT Services Life Science & Infrastructure at Infinity, a Stamford Technology Company. The job title sounds impressive enough but her role sees her being the driving force behind the global growth of the organization, managing strategic client relationships is just part of this. She also is in charge of expanding the company’s footprint in countries like Poland and Japan, and across the whole Middle East.

Perhaps her path towards entrepreneurship is more obvious in retrospect. When she worked as Head of Client Relations for ERP Consulting, she was one of the first employees there and worked in a variety of roles over her tenure there, including IT Consulting Sales, Recruitment, Immigration and operations. But she’s come a long way since then, and now finds herself as Co-Founder of a new start-up, MPowered. She’s also fiercely devoted to helping other women in their struggles for success.

Why India?

Having been based in America for so long and managing such diverse business portfolios in countries like the USA and Canada, what made her take this leap to start a venture in India?

“I have always wanted to get back to running a business in India, as it was a starting point of my professional journey. I owned a successful venture at the age of 17 in Design, Interiors, and Furnishings for brands importing from India into the USA, which gave a head start to my career,” explains Bhavna. “After running multiple ventures globally, I felt it was time to start a business in India all over again.”

However, it was also the challenge that drove her. “Also, the real-estate industry in India as you know does not have many women leaders as it is assumed that women cannot make a successful career in this field. This also became an influencing factor that positively challenged me to start a business in the real estate sector and step-up the game for women. A few successful examples are enough to encourage others to join the bandwagon and turn things around for the better.”

So, helping other women to succeed is part of the reason, but there’s more. “Speaking from a business-perspective, India is a high-action space right now and I am really excited to run MPowered as Co-Founder. The brand has been designed with a problem-solving bent of mind and is for everyone who owns real estate but is unsure of how to capitalise on it or owns a business but cannot spare the bandwidth to conceptualise, set-up, and manage the office space on a day-to-day basis. My global experience of the real-tech industry which is going to be the future of real estate more so in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, will define a new trajectory for the organized Asset Management industry in India,” she says.

Differentiation is key

So what is her venture, MPowered? What is the business model and what drove Bhavna to start this? Also, from a business perspective, how is MPowered geared to be different from other businesses in this space?

MPowered is a firm that specialises in Asset-Management Solutions, to help property owners convert their real estate liabilities into chic profit-generating ventures for long term use. We envision converting unutilized real estate into A-grade facilities by investing in them and implementing its various models on the properties as per the fitment in terms of size, location, infrastructure, among other things,” she says. “With on-point Business Intelligence coupled with our acumen for building new models of shared economy, and Technology, MPowered provides the best-in-class Asset Management Services in the domains of commercial, residential and retail real estate spaces.”

They currently offer core innovations that include ‘MPowered’, ‘Powered by M’, and ‘MGage. ‘MPowered’ is Space-as-a-Service Platform that helps capital investors transform their properties into agile, well-equipped, and managed workspaces for the long term. ‘Powered by M’ is an extension of the company’s service portfolio designed to exclusively manage real estate for co-working and co-living spaces, while ‘MGage’ is a tool built especially to manage work spaces efficiently, be it a co-working space or a managed office.

It is a melting pot of innovations, unique ideas and first-of-its-kind services in the real estate space,” enthuses Bhavna.From configuring large office spaces to creating luxurious and efficient residential models, MPowered is a one-stop shop for expertise in creating real-estate based business models, as well as running and managing their day-to-day operations. Our diverse portfolio of services and subject-matter experts allows us to Build, Power, and Manage spaces that are both dynamic and futuristic.”

USP and philosophy

It all sounds very innovative, but ultimately what is the core unique selling point that will give MPowered the competitive advantage to succeed in the market?

MPowered enjoys a competitive advantage over peers, as India is still relatively new to the concept of organised Asset Management. In addition to having a team of experts across real estate, infrastructure, design, and business intelligence in MPowered’s leadership fold, it has a solid backing of global trends and expertise from countries like the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, and Poland,” says Bhavna. “It is this global intelligence and futuristic approach that MPowered aims to apply to India’s real estate ecosystem with an objective to redefine the meaning of enterprise solutions. This is a major edge MPowered enjoys over competitors.”

Bhavna has had various roles over the years including being Chairman of the Board of Trustees for GOPIO (Connecticut State), a non-partisan, secular, civic, and community service organization which promotes the awareness of Indian Culture, Customs, and Contributions of PIOs. Having ventured into different fields, has there been any entrepreneurial philosophy that holds all this together?

“I enjoy being deeply invested in everything to do with Women’s Empowerment. I am always keen to build and grow various platforms that can enable, encourage, and support women in achieving their maximum potential, professionally or otherwise,” she says. As an immigrant woman in the US, she feels that her journey has been a roller-coaster ride and she’s been immensely blessed to have come this far on her own. “As a show of gratitude, I would like to extend all the support that I can to other women who are ambitious without apology, that can help them chase their career dreams.”

New rules, new challenges

In these unprecedented times, there are new problems to solve and an ever-shifting business landscape in which to solve them, but Bhavna sees the challenges as full of possible potential.

“I feel that every challenge makes way for an opportunity and Covid-19 is no different. While it has adversely affected many aspects of the business across industries, it is also going to open up a flood of opportunities. For example, due to the pandemic people are fearful of going to physical retail stores which is leading to unprecedented growth of ecommerce, which in turn is opening up an array of avenues for related business,” she says.

Speaking specifically of real estate, she sees that the rise of ecommerce has led to a drastic demand for warehousing for a business like MPowered where online brands are looking to set up last-mile warehouses to speed-up the fulfilment process for online orders. She also reports that it has also led to a “thumping demand” for various kinds of new residential models that are greatly viable in the work-from-home scenario which many businesses will continue with, for the remainder of this year.

Good advice

With increasingly nationalist governments across the globe, and their promotion of domestic populism, how does Bhavna does see the potential challenges that will pose for an international entrepreneur like her?

“Given that my venture MPowered is founded by Sudeep Singh who is a serial Indian entrepreneur and real estate veteran, I don’t see a challenge of this nature arising for us at all. As I said, the right mix of deep-rootedness in India and understanding of the Indian market clubbed with global intelligence and concepts is what gives MPowered an edge, as a business,” she confidently replies.

Despite the traditional male-dominated industry, there are many women entrepreneurs making a foray into the real estate business. Bhavna has advice for all those budding business owners, including what they should be prepared for and what the benefits of being an entrepreneur can be.

She says that you must be prepared to take failure with a pinch of salt and bounce back stronger. “Only when you fall, can you experience the true joy of rising and shining again,” she says. “Your very first step towards success lies in the fact that you dared to walk the path of entrepreneurship which takes immense courage. Stay true to your vision and keep moving forward, no matter what the obstacle.”

A key part of launching or expanding a start-up is when you have to hire new people. We asked Bhavna about what her strategy for hiring staff is and how does she ensure that she gets the right people for her start-up.

“Whether it’s a start-up or a large enterprise, People-Passion-Process are the 3 Ps I work with. The attitude of a hire is everything to me and if they can share the same passion as you and your company, and can closely adhere to the company’s processes, they are a good fit for your venture”, she recommends. “You can always groom a good attitude hire and mould them to become an asset to the business.”

That also applies for when the time comes to scale up. Bhavna believes that investing in the right business model and hiring the right set of people to execute it, are key to running a good business. “Once you have your A Team and processes in place, scaling up is only a matter of adequate funds and the time it may take to happen. It is therefore necessary to crack a successful model first and then replicate/scale it multi-fold,” she says.

With another exciting new business venture in India to run with, Bhavna is in for an exciting time. It’s a challenge she is relishing and the chance to help other women join her in making the world a better place is something that will keep her passion for the project burning, even in these challenging times.

Smita is a multi-cultural freelance journalist, writer, and filmmaker based out of the US, London, Hong Kong, and India. Global Indian Stories is her brain-child. Created to chronicle diaspora stories written by Indians of all age groups, from different walks of life across the globe, Smita makes sure that the platform remains inclusive and positive.