DA alumnus Pushkal Chhaparwal on his career since graduating from ETIA 08 in 2016
DA: You are the co-founder of brands ‘Alpveda’, ‘Spicy Soul’ and also the managing director of Parin Consulting GmbH. What exactly are your responsibilities in these positions and how did your career path look like so far?
Pushkal Chhaparwal: I started my business journey last year when I founded my company Parin Consulting GmbH - providing consulting and business development services for small scale engineering and renewable energy projects for European, Middle Eastern and South Asian clients. At the same time, I started two joint ventures with business partners from Austria: ‘Alpveda’ - a herbal food supplement and essential oil brand; and ‘Spicy Soul’ - a spice label specialising in premium quality and ethically produced spices and signature spice blends. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise as both the business ideas were born during the first lockdown last year - we brainstormed and worked on the business plan every day and within six months we had manufacturing contracts and our actual products on the shelves! As both the brands are in the start-up phase, I along with my business partners are engaged in all departments - from sourcing to product design & development to marketing & sales. It’s quite an all-round experience! Apart from the engineering consultancy, I am focusing to scale up the start-ups and developing an extensive export portfolio for our products.
Have you always been interested in entrepreneurship and business management, or has this interest developed over time?
Honestly, I never thought I would venture into entrepreneurship so soon in my life - that too abroad! I believe my diverse experiences certainly played a role in understanding the fundamentals of business. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in India, I started my career in Turkey followed by India in supply chain and project management in the automobile industry for 1.5 years. I then wanted to pursue a master’s degree in Europe which also covered my other interests - international relations, economics and geopolitics. So naturally the ETIA program was a perfect fit as it blended technical sciences with international relations, law and economics. During the DA I also interned for the Afghan mission to the UN and post DA, I worked as a researcher on carbon markets & pricing in India and then for two years as a business development associate for a boutique consultancy in Vienna focusing on project finance, artificial intelligence and IoT sector. In mid-2019, I quit my job and took a break to pursue certification courses to enhance my knowledge and prepare myself for the next career move. But as for many others, the pandemic changed everything. I went back home and it was during this lockdown that I brainstormed on the business ideas which my father had discussed with me two years ago - to consult on small scale projects connecting Europe and India, to focus on herbal nutraceuticals manufactured in Austria and on creating a spice label to cater to the growing gastronomy sector. Coming from a family who have been in the herbal pharmaceuticals and spice business for 70 years, I did have the fundamental knowhow. The next months were spent understanding the intricacies of the business, creating a business plan and establishing contacts for sourcing and production of our products. So, although I had some business ideas in my mind, it’s safe to say that the pandemic was the real catalyst which made it happen.
How has the DA helped you develop your career?
The DA has definitely played a key role in developing my career. The insightful courses, events to engage & connect with different organisations and most importantly, the opportunity to study with such diverse group of students from over 50 different countries and variety of disciplines were the key highlights which helped mould my career. The ETIA program, although intense, covered all the key fundamentals in international relations, economics, law and environment sciences which resulted in a strong knowledge base.
The DA boasts of an impressive and close knit alumni network which is friendly, approachable and helping. The ClubDA events were definitely a great way to meet alumni and seek advice for career development!
Is there a specific skill set taught at the DA that is particularly useful for your current job?
I think the most important skill the DA taught me was networking - it is extremely important in any sector. Also, the possibility to be in an international study group gave me the ability to better comprehend different cultures and have a broader perspective. The interdisciplinary focus and the attention given to languages is another key area which the DA focused on and I find it useful in my current position.
Where do you think the future will take you?
To our first VC funding hopefully! For the next coming years, the focus will be to scale up the two start-ups, develop our export market and build our brand equity. We are already working on some exciting partnerships for our brands and new products are in the pipeline. The journey of an entrepreneur is not an easy one but it is very exciting and I am glad that I am able to build a brand and watch it grow!