The nuts and bolts of big business
A few months after graduating from the USC Marshall School of Business, Dinika Bhatia ’09 launched a brand of processed and packaged nuts called Nutty Gritties. Within the first year of starting DRB Foods Pvt. Ltd., that brand was placed in most of the top retail chains in India.
“This is absolutely unheard of,” Bhatia said. “Brands that are five or six years old are still trying to get into the retail chains where we got smooth entry.
“After seeing this growth trajectory and passion in my work in the first year of our business, one of the leading food magazines in India recognized us as one of the top 10 fastest-growing snack food companies in India,” he added.
An extension of her family’s business of importing and wholesaling dry fruit, nuts and spices, Nutty Gritties are healthy, dry-roasted, spiced nuts in convenient snack packs. Bhatia, who majored in business administration with a double concentration in strategic management and entrepreneurship, worked on a business plan for the company in two entrepreneurship courses at USC Marshall.
“My education at USC Marshall truly laid the foundation of going out in the real world,” Bhatia said. “It was the support and guidance from my professors, real-world case studies, guest speakers, networking and constant interaction with students and professors that helped me hone my business and networking skills. When I returned to India, I was a much more confident, passionate and focused person, and I knew how to get my work done through my networking.”
Bhatia, who took classes with Thomas Knapp, assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, and Patrick Henry, assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, noted that a global strategy course with Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organization, was particularly helpful in providing the real-world experience that enabled her to launch Nutty Gritties quickly and successfully.
“You can’t help but be proud of her,” Voigt said. “In some ways, she’s just the absolute epitome of everything that our USC Marshall undergraduate program stands for, which is dream big dreams, use your initiative, take some risks, be entrepreneurial, be global and aspire to make a difference.”
In 2010, Nutty Gritties was named “The Most Innovative Product” at the UpperCrust Food and Wine Show in Mumbai. Bhatia recently was recognized by Walmart-India as one of the up-and-coming women entrepreneurs in India. As part of that honor, she was invited to share her experiences with Walmart’s staff.
“I was applauded several times in the middle of my speech,” Bhatia recalled. “CEO Raj Jain asked me after how I have been able to reach this level, and I said, ‘We all have challenges at work, especially as entrepreneurs, but looking at them as opportunities rather than obstacles is what really turns the picture around.’
“This accolade inspired me to grow even more and further exploit my potential not only for myself but for others who are looking for inspiration.”