The Indian Weekender has always strived to give the community stories that inspire and motivate them to make their dreams and passions a reality. To bring such stories to the community, The Indian Weekender has started a new series talking to successful Kiwi-Indian business people, know their struggles in starting a venture in New Zealand and making it a success it is today.
The Indian Weekender spoke to Giridharan Giri, Director of Relianz Group, that has three successful businesses under its umbrella in New Zealand: Relianz Forex, Relianz Travel and Loan Bazaar.
The first thing Mr Giri advises to budding entrepreneurs to be prepared for the painful process of learning through unfavourable circumstances, but one must endure through such times as there is no going back.
Relianz Group Head Office in Dominion Road
Mr Giri started his Kiwi journey back in 2003 leaving his well-paid and incentivised job in India to find an equally adventurous and successful career in New Zealand. His first two months were met with disappointments and rejections as hundreds of his job applications got declined. He jumped from one shop to another meeting people and even went to the office of Work & Income looking for a miracle.
However, after months of hunting, he was finally called for three interviews on one single day. He vividly recalls the Thursday, when he barely had some hard cash in his pocket attending an interview at a company Armour Guard in Ellerslie at 3 p.m. when he was called to appear at another interview in a short notice. This interview went on to change his status quo in life and quite significantly navigate the course of his journey in New Zealand.
Mr Giri was determined to leave the interview with the offer letter and at 7:30 p.m. starting Monday the following week.
Mr Giri has not looked back since, working there for almost two years until the company was sold and he started under new management as the first director of the company.
Relianz Group Dominion Road Branch
Carrying years of experience in the field of foreign exchange in India under Thomas Cook and American Express, and gained ample exposure to the New Zealand market, it was time for him to take the next major step, which was starting something of his own.
“I was determined to start the firm but naming the company was our first big challenge. We had almost 200 names in mind, but we got down to Relianz Forex Ltd. The name had ‘Reli’ for reliability and ‘anz’ for Australia-New Zealand, and thus we finalised the name with the tag ‘Your first Choice to Rely’. In 2009, Relianz Forex had hit the market and picked up eventually,” Mr Giri said in the interview.
The challenge to run and grow the business:
Relianz Forex started with just one staff at the company’s head office on Dominion Road and within 15 months had two more branches coming up at New Windsor and Sandringham.
This stupendous success came with a personal price of the sacrifice of family time, health and stress to Mr Giri but it did not stop his determination to move forward.
Relianz Group team at its annual event in 2017 (Picture: Supplied)
“When a new thing starts, there come unfavourable times that one has to endure as there is no going back. You have to focus on what you want to do, and that will get you new challenges, and that too has to be faced,” he adds.
“One of the biggest challenges is that your family has to accept you because of your engagement into your work. I worked tirelessly even weekends for the first 15 months when the branches were opened. There was a time when my family sent me an email to communicate with me,” Mr Giri recalled.
Relianz Group Chairman Giridharan Giri at The Indian Weekender Studio
“One time I received a love letter on an email that really took me back, and I cried virtual tears. It was then I took a step back, spoke to my family, explained to them that how this venture is important and like a baby that needs to be taken care of and nourished,” he said.
Speaking on how he reached out to the community Mr Giri said, “Initial days are always hard, as we had to market our product and services to the community. We went from house to house in different suburbs; shops, flea market and my family would often join me. People eventually started noticing my face and as soon as they see me would ask the rate of exchange. I was in Rose Gardens in Hamilton when someone recognised me and asked me the same question. It was delightful to see the response from the community, and that is what has helped us to grow, now into different markets too.”
Relianz Forex Sandringham Road Branch
Mr Giri advises one thing that a person should never forget, and this is the roots where he has come.
“Remember the days of your struggle, and that will always give you direction to what you should do, and it will bring the humility in you,” he added.
Another important USP of his business to grow and expand is giving back to the community. He advises that it’s the community’s money and trust that has made the business grow and provided with all the success, and it has to be returned to the community by providing employment opportunities, supporting events, helping the needy.
Relianz Forex Head Office on Dominion Road
One advice that Mr Giri gives to young entrepreneurs is to have that passion, the drive and determination to achieve your goal.
“Use whatever resources you have, invest your time, passion and surround with the right circle of people and most important of all, be determined and your success is inevitable,” he concluded.