‘Entrepreneurship is tougher than a corporate job’


Kavita Madhvani is the co-founder of Fighter Shots, a line of immunity and health drinks. The Briton, 33, moved to Dubai from London in 2016.

Ms Madhvani worked in banking and finance for more than 10 years before starting the business.

Fighter Shots was founded in the London Business School incubator programme in 2019, where Ms Madhvani and co-founder Anna Szymanowska did their MBAs, and started production in 2020.

The company was founded when my co-founder Anna noticed a gap in the market,” she says.

“The UK didn’t have great-tasting ginger shots, unlike in Switzerland [where she previously worked], and we wanted to bring these to the UK. We found ourselves with a similar head space and vision and wanted to make a change in the field of health and well-being, one step at a time.”

Ms Madhvani lives in Jumeirah with her husband, who works in the finance sector, and their 17-month-old daughter, Arianna.

How did you experience money during your childhood?

I have been very lucky, my parents had their own business and were successful enough to provide top schooling and all that we needed when we were younger.

Even though we were able to buy most things, my parents were very intent on teaching us the value of money. We were never given money unless we “worked” for it.

Hence, we took up additional chores and responsibilities around the house, from helping in the garden, cleaning up the room, doing the laundry, running errands for our parents, and much more.

Good behaviour would not be rewarded with money, but with a Happy Meal or something like that. They were intent on instilling the value of money.

When did you first earn money?

Right from the beginning, I was always motivated to make my own money. In order to be financially independent, it drove me to look at taking up a part-time job as I joined university.

I was only 18 and it was a basic admin job in a big department store. I earned £10 (Dh46) an hour. I worked three days a week. It was mainly for extra money to go out.

It instilled value about earning money and having a job because my parents helped me during university as I had a student loan.

What did you do before Fighter Shots?

I worked in banking and finance for more than 10 years. It was a very fruitful and satisfying work experience. It gave me an insight into the running of an enterprise and helped to equip and give me the confidence to start my own company, at ease.

What drove you to be an entrepreneur?

Once I completed my MBA, I knew the corporate world wasn’t for me. I just found the corporate rat race never ending.

I wanted to have more flexibility and grow my family. But entrepreneurship is tougher than a corporate job.

You can’t just deep dive into entrepreneurship without having a safety net.

It started off as a side hustle. And then when I had the confidence, I decided to leave my job and try this full time.

Entrepreneurship is really tough and scary and it is one of the hardest things to leave a comfort zone. But what I learnt over the past few years, not just through my MBA, but also through the network of people that I met, is that if you do not step out of your comfort zone, you’re not living, just existing.

Juggling motherhood and business is also tough and challenges arise all the time but we’re figuring this out together, I want to show her that I can do both.

How did Dubai happen?

My husband’s job moved here in 2016. We got married in 2016 and felt like it would be fun to move abroad. I came out and had to look for a job initially and found one relatively quickly, within three months.

In terms of entrepreneurship, have you faced any speed bumps along the way?

There’s plenty. Covid-19 was one of them. Growing the business in a pandemic is tough and especially because that was the start of our journey. We also did a fundraise in 2020, which was very successful. But all of these challenges came up together.

One of our main issues is production. We don’t have our own factory, so we have to outsource it. Giving that job to someone else is huge because that’s our product.

Are you a saver or a spender?

As a child, I always saved money for my innocent indulgences. But as I earned more money along the way, I became a conscious shopper and spender.

Do you have any spending regrets?

I went through a phase about 10 years ago where I used to buy a lot of clothes. You grow as an individual over the years. So now I’m into sustainable fashion, not fast fashion.

Now I’m more conscious of investing in a good dress that I can wear multiple times and style in different ways.

Have your money habits evolved over the years?

I have grown to understand the value of money after my responsibilities grew, especially after moving to Dubai.

I learnt how to manage money – with daily bills and groceries, factoring in the cost incurred for my business with some personal expenses including holidays, and then saving, too.

Even though we were able to buy most things, my parents were very intent on teaching us the value of money

Kavita Madhvani, co-founder, Fighter Shots

How do you grow wealth?

Invest, invest, invest! It’s important to invest wisely – taking into consideration the trends in the stock market and paying close attention to it.

It’s essential to diversify your investments and curb expenditure.

My husband is a portfolio manager, so he invests most of our wealth. We’ve got it across all asset classes. We have property in the UK and abroad. We’ve got it in stocks and index funds. We just don’t invest in cryptos.

We’ve been looking at buying property in Europe and the US as well.

Any cherished investments?

My most cherished investment will have to be my MBA.

I worked very hard to gather every penny to make it happen, which proved to be a very fruitful decision.

I never thought I would be here today with my own business and helping others scale their businesses. Investing in your own self, your mind and your knowledge is so important.

What do you enjoy spending on?

Travelling; I love exploring new cities and equally love relaxing at the beach.

I tend to leave all my worries away the second I hop on to a flight – from one destination to the other.

Any financial milestones?

Setting up Fighter Shots in the UAE was something I did not anticipate happening so quickly and yet [become] so valuable.

We are currently stocked in key retailers and hoping to expand at a wider level in the coming months.

Our dream is to hit the Dh5 million revenue mark this year.

How do you see money?

Money is the gateway to a lot of opportunities. I foresee the day when I can give back to the community, share my earnings with the less fortunate and help to make a difference to their lives.

Updated: May 26, 2023, 6:42 PM