‘Common man’s go-to Consultant’: Meet young Kashmiri business guru who advises big corporate houses in the world

October 2, 2021

Srinagar: At 35, Khalid Wani has already lived an action-packed life — taking him to places, making him rub shoulders with the big league and helping him create his own cult. His labor of love has today made him what he calls “a common man’s go-to Consultant”.

“I was a low-key consultant before I realized it was my strong suit,” Khalid says with an effortless ease. “Right from my first stint at being an entrepreneur at the age of 19 and starting my first company, I decided to officially start a division that was solely dedicated to consulting companies that didn’t know that they had room for improvement for growth.”

Started in 2016, the Khalid Wani Consulting Group aka KWCG, caters to companies/start-ups that can’t afford big corporates like PWC, Ernst & Young, among others for similar services.

“Some of our biggest projects have been working with an IPL team, and remotely setting up and training a company’s marketing department in the states during the pandemic,” Khalid says. “We have consulted leaders from the government panel with their execution and formulation & execution of policies.”

The Consulting group gets activated during the elections to cater to their on/offline marketing for their election strategies. “We are also into the talent management space and currently have Gaurav Gill (Arjuna Awardee, Indian Racing Champ), Deepak Wadhwa (renowned TV and film actor), and a few business/Corporate personalities. Besides, we have worked with brands, like Adidas, Timex, Gas, The Ambani Wedding, United Nations, Nh7(Music Festival), etc.”

But before coming of age, Khalid as a Srinagar born boy mostly grew up in Delhi where he graduated in International Business and Finance from Jamia Millia Islamia in 2008.

“I had a band back in school called Phobia, and had a knack for music,” Khalid says. “I used to be a vocalist for the same band and would mix and match different genres. We played many inter-school competitions and won some.”

Khalid eventually realized that he was more of a management and operations person. And to pursue his line, he had to rest his vocals.

“Entrepreneurship was always in my blood,” Khalid, who comes from the Kashmiri Manufacturing & Exports Handicraft family background says. “I started my first company by the name of Music Matters / MM in the first year of my college somewhere in 2007.”

The company was an end-to-end service revolving around music and artist management. “I had a record label, recording studio, artists/talent management, event management, marketing for big-scale music festivals, public relations under the MM umbrella.”

The company hired, developed, and retained talented people which resulted in managing well over 80 events in operation in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. During this time period, he handled/conceptualised festivals and artist management for colleges like IITs, IIMs, and Delhi university festivals.

“During that phase, I developed a love for interviewing local and international bands/musicians,” Khalid says. “I was actively writing for several reputed publications like Rock Street Journal, Eclectic Vibes, The Northeast Times, and several online music blogs.”

Having interacted, traveled and worked with the industry moguls like Metallica, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, Ozzy Osborne, Sebastian Bach, Guns N’ Roses, Ugly Kid Joe, etc, Khalid ran his music business.

“I managed and worked on multiple projects/concerts in Europe in 2012 and years to follow,” he says. He also handled strategies, ticketing Strategy/sales, marketing, brand communications for them.

During 2014, Khalid founded an Electric Vehicle [EV] manufacturing company, commonly known as the E-rickshaw. “I was one of the very first movers in this space,” he says. “As you can see today, EV’s are the future.” During the same time, he co-founded North India’s first FoodTruck. That was food on the go and food on wheels.

At the same time, I was also helping incubate my family’s business into entering different countries like Italy and Greece,” he says. “This was also happening in tandem.”

But with time, he noticed the dying demand for the art and exited the business due to heavy working capital/operational cost.

Still very much involved and vocal about the Kashmiri industry, he wanted to bring reforms and develop the industry with the help of the local handicrafts ministry, by bringing in the intelligence of global knowledge as Knowledge Partners.

“By 2017, I realised I had a good amount of experience in terms of being a strategist, advisor, consultant and then founded a consulting dedicated company,” Khalid says. “That was into Sports, F&B, Technology, Real estate, healthcare, and consulting Governance (MP’s and MLA’s and upcoming ministers) with their election campaigns.”

A year later in 2018, Khalid had the opportunity to work closely with the Delhi IPL team. He consulted them for their brand communication, marketing, and digital. “We currently have operations in India, the USA, and the UK in the public and private sectors,” he says.

Apart from managing a Formula-3 rally driver Gaurav Gill, Khalid has also handled a few cricketers, and musicians. “And now,” he says, “I am into incubation and helping startups with their business setups and future series of investments and liaisoning.”

With a large fund of experience at hand, Khalid has so far incubated about 7 start-ups, some of them have reached to series “A” investment and are self-sustaining in terms of their business growth and the plan that he has made for them.

“Mentoring is all about giving them the boost that everything is possible but with the right amount of energy invested in the right direction. It is very important to have a plan and schedule,” he said.

However, the course of true love never ran smooth. Khalid had his share of challenges in his entrepreneurial journey.

“To begin with, time management, because you have to wear many hats while you are constantly making things move and taking no excuse to get your work delayed. If you can’t take rejections, then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Sometimes it’s the cash crunch because the payments don’t come on time. The company might be doing well in terms of having enough business, but the heavy operating costs can take you time to be able to call yourself a profit-making venture, which is something the new Gen of Entrepreneurs should realize and not be tough on themselves,” he explained.

Khalid pointed out that they have a dedicated department that only helps the underprivileged who want to start a business, but doesn’t have a knowledge partner.

“We act as their incubator. That’s our way of giving back. I wish to activate a similar platform for my brothers and sisters in Kashmir. They reach out to me for any help,” he concluded.

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Hirra Azmat

When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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