We had the good fortune of connecting with Rohan Vora and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rohan, how do you think about risk?
Risk is subjective. I think there’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs are generally “risk-junkies.” I don’t think that’s true. I think that when you set a goal – any goal – there’s an inherent amount of risk built in. But does that mean you shouldn’t take the steps to achieve your goal?
I’m not a risk taker, but I do think I take calculated risks. I tend to think of assessing risk as a framework. We generally associate risk with negative downsides. However, there is such a thing as positive risk. That’s where I like to start. What’s the best thing that can happen? Once I answer that, I transition to the worst thing that can happen. I recognize that both of these thought processes are very “all-or-nothing” ways of thinking, so I find myself relying on methods of alternative analysis. This technique allows me to minimize the downsides of the risk while maximizing the upsides.
All this being said, I wasn’t always a risk taker. I studied business in college and worked a steady stream of corporate jobs for a few years. I didn’t necessarily take on too much risk in my career right out of the gate. I had what many would call a natural trajectory. It just made sense.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and I believe that studying the people closest to me changed my trajectory and view of risk. I was working 10–12-hour days as a Management Consultant when I decided to start my jewelry business on the side. At the time, I never thought I’d leave my full-time corporate job for a small business that I was running from my bedroom. But there came a point where I had to take a leap of faith. I calculated my risks as best I could, but the buck has to stop somewhere. This is when I realized that I had to be comfortable with going back to zero. If I could tolerate going back to zero, and the risk has the potential to take my business to another level, then the risk is probably worth taking. That’s the process I go through to calculate risk and make decisions.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started Oravo jewelry in 2012 with the premise that luxury should be affordable. My parents are wholesale jewelers and I grew up seeing the innerworkings of the industry. I was also aware of the consumer side of the business and the tremendous mark-ups that customers were forced to pay. There was an opportunity to build a better bridge from manufacturing straight to the end consumer, without traditional mark-ups. I was able to leverage the robust manufacturing capabilities of overseas factories and marry that with an e-commerce model which passed on savings directly to the end consumer. Over the years, Oravo jewelry became prevalent across a multitude of e-commerce marketplaces such as Overstock, Walmart, Menards and eBay. But as a small business, it wasn’t easy. It came with a lot of risk and uncertainty, but also opportunities for lessons learned. I realized early on that the right team matters. It was a humbling experience because I was able to recognize my weaknesses and fill those gaps with individuals who were much more specialized and stronger in certain knowledge areas.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is an entertainment mecca! There’s so much to do. I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy so I the Improv or Laugh Factory would definitely be on the itinerary. I’ve also become a recent lover of escape rooms. It’s fascinating to see how other’s think their way through problems and it’s a great opportunity to hone leadership skills. I also enjoy finding hidden gems within the city and speakeasies are some of the most interesting places to go. There’s something to be said of speakeasy culture – the secret passwords, hidden doors, the unknown atmosphere. I think this type of appeal speaks to the marketer in me. Pun intended.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m incredibly thankful for the inspirational community of friends and family that I like to surround myself with. I’m constantly learning from those around me – much smarter and wiser individuals. There’s one mentor in particular who has taught me a lot about risk, successes, failures and the importance of relationships and community and that’s Nakul Dev Mahajan. He’s been an inspiration of mine for years and I continue to seek his guidance in all things life.