Featured Consultant | Interview With Chandni Sahgal


Chandni co-founded D`Essence Consulting a boutique Management Consulting firms based out of Mumbai.

With a balanced “Operating and Consulting” experience Chandni extends her Insights and Knowledge to “Build and Grow Sustainable and Profitable Businesses”

Has deep domain consulting experience on Growth Strategy and Scale up, India Entry strategy, Go to Market Strategies, Customer, Talent and Fund Access. 

Chandni is well networked within the Investor and Entrepreneur Community and is a regular speaker at leading Campus Incubators and Entrepreneurship Events.

The Feelancer team had a chance to catch up with Chandni Sahgal for a discussion on her consulting practice.

Please provide a brief about your consulting firm’s profile.

Dessence Consulting is a Boutique Management & Strategy Consulting, M& A advisory and Startup Consulting Firm based in Mumbai since 1999. Later two other verticals

Dessence Hospitality Advisory Services Pvt Ltd and MentorVilla.com were added and Chandni heads all   three verticals.

Through her Operating, Consulting and Entrepreneurial experience, Chandni extends her Insights and    Knowledge to help her Clients Build, Manage and Grow their Businesses Profitably.

Please provide a brief overview of your service(s).

Chandni has advised extensively on India Entry strategy, Growth Strategy, JVs & Strategic Alliances, Business Modelling and Business Plan writing, Corporatisation, Culture Building, Transformation Management and Access to Venture Capital. She has built Concept to Market Strategies for Innovative Products and Services.

What inspired you to start your practice/ start offering the above product or service?

With India Growth Story taking shape in Late 90`s and the rise of Internet and Digital, there was a space in the Indian Market to provide Consulting Services to the Growing MSMSE who wanted to take connect with the Global economy or serve the Rising Consumption Cult. Similarly Global Brands needed assistance in building their India Entry Strategy and Dessence sought to fulfill this need.

What is your target market? Who are the clients whom you think can immensely benefit from the services your firm provides?

Our Target markets comprises of

  1. Global Brands seeking to enter India. We have engaged with Brands like Little Caesar, John Deer, Dine Equity, FBC and several others
  2. Corporate seeking select and niche expertise. Even diversification, innovation, Off- Site Speaking services and to act as a sounding board. Sometimes participate as a Subject matter expert.
  3. Owner Managed MSME`s seeking Growth Strategy or a leap from professional to Corporate or Board run entities
  4. SMEs seeking professional assistance and intervention and involvement of professionals who otherwise would be difficult to attract as In-house Talent.
  5. Startups seeking Proof of Concept Validation, Market Size assessment. Business model design and tweaking, Business Plan and Investor Pitch Book, Founder Team Coaching and Mentoring, Access to Venture Capital

What has been the most challenging part of your journey till now?

It has been a long winding and exciting 18 years journey. As Indian and Global markets evolved

We have pivoted through several business, engagement and delivery models. We have witnessed several Macro Changes including 3 recessions and black swan event like 9/11, Lehman Brothers, Crash of the internet economy and so also rise of digital. The challenge has been to continue to remain relevant to our clients, employees the also the Startup Eco-system and upgrade accordingly.

What has been your/your firms’ biggest achievement?

There is no one single achievement I can state, yes to be able to maintain a boutique status and yet be able to understand and service needs of Clients across Geographies, Verticals, Size, Life Cycle and Ownership and structure is what we are proud of.

What are your future plans? What should clients look for in future from you in next few years?

We are steering towards participating a lot more in the “Work for Hire” concept becoming more viable through the Shared Digital Economy. Also we have experimented with a select New Ventures where we provide our Mentoring and Advisory services in part exchange for fee. In yet another move we source a part of our hands through the Work for Hire or Internship and Academia –Industry Connect.

Digital and Social have been rolled into our engagement and customer acquisition model.

If you have to share one tip for success, what would that be?

We have always Embraced Uncertainty and hence Transformation is key to survival.

The new “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world will need us to share the Old and Embrace the New!

What is the one mistake that you feel individuals must avoid?

Straight Line Growth and Holding on to Beliefs and Convictions. We have to learn to re-juggle our prejudices.

Re-skilling and flexibility at all levels is a must no longer will any degree or education last our life-time.

Also I believe that to succeed we as Individuals will need more Professional Stamina, Emotional Stamina, Physical Stamina and Financial Stamina.

Please share the details of some of your awards/accolades.

  1. As a young professional I crossed tracks from Finance and Strategy to grass root level sales and Marketing in the Animal Health Division of American Cyanamid. That very year I was awarded the International Chairman`s award for the best Product Launch Worldwide. I was learning what we now call India Entry Strategy at Dessence and the Magic of Localisation.
  2. I was also awarded the Southam Fisher Fellowship through the Commonwealth Press Union at the University of Toronto. The fellowship was part funded by Conrad Black (then Daily Telegraph London).
  3. I have been a Chevening Gurukul Fellow for leadership in Globalisation at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
  4. For its 50th Anniversary, BITS Pilani in association with Oxford University Press published a collection of 50 Alumni who were awarded the distinguished Alumni Award. I have also received the same and feature in this book accordingly.


Any other information you would like to share.

Currently have become interested in the working of Corporate Boards and how I can contribute as an Independent director.

I’m also a mentee graduate of the FICCI-Women on Corporate Boards program and also attended the Director`s Club Hunt Partners workshop for Independent Directors.

I feel the true test of a professional`s ethics and integrity get reflected when he steers a Board through the challenges and dilemmas. So I look forward to getting there some day. 

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