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Dream Big: Ask an Entrepreneur – Delna Bhesania

Name: Delna Bhesania, Owner and CEO
Company: Bardel Entertainment
Industry: Animation
City: Vancouver, BC
Date of interview: December 10, 2014

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April 23, 2015

In an effort to expose youth to various career options, Kristi Miller, Vice President & Co-founder, First West Capital and Director, Junior Achievement of British Columbia, interviewed entrepreneur Delna Bhesania to explore entrepreneurship and the motivations behind her career path.

Bardel is a leading animation services provider in North America. We were founded in 1987 and now have 3 locations – 2 in Vancouver and 1 in Kelowna.

What does your company do? What’s your biggest opportunity right now? Biggest challenge?

Our biggest opportunity is to partner with, sell or merge with a larger organization so we can get into more proprietary productions (where we own the shows) and feature film work. We seek synergistic partnerships to get more capital and building more relationships with contacts in the industry.

Our biggest challenge right now is managing growth. We have grown from 120 to 650 employees in one year, from one studio to three studios (one of which is remote), and from doing all our work in Vancouver to partnering with studios all over the world.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I took a travel agent’s course after high school. A friend suggested that I participate in a seminar called “Visualize Your Future Career.”  That’s how the idea of starting an animation studio was born.

After that seminar, I did a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. Then I joined Junior Achievement’s mentorship program (almost 30 years ago now) that was available to people under 21 who had incorporated a business. The program brought in knowledgeable speakers and taught me how to incorporate a business, research and write a business plan. They made me think about our market, competitive advantage, strategy, sales and revenue, and that business is more than just coming up with an idea; it’s all about execution. This is the essence of what JA taught me.

During Bardel’s first 5 years, I was also involved in launching a children’s clothing line and a part-time catering business. Then Bardel grew and we experimented inside the business itself.  We tried our hand at distribution and even toys.  It took me a long time to realize what we do best – animation production – and focus on that.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

In a typical day, I arrive at work between 9 and 10 am, and get home at 7 or 8 pm. When my clients are in town, I have to entertain them and it is usually 10 or 11 at night before I get home. I have a very strong team. During the day I focus my time on communicating with them. There’s also a lot of travel for me. We outsource work to overseas studios and I travel to meet each of these face to face. I also oversee all work with outside consultants and Bardel’s overall brand management.

What does success mean to you?

This is a good question and I’m still wrestling with it.  The meaning of success has changed for me over the years.  Right now, it means financial security, and balancing this with my family life. It also means having more control over my situation and destiny, and not being reactive.

Has being an entrepreneur helped you achieve these things?

Yes and no. Yes because it has given me flexibility and control.  And, when the company does well, it provides a very good life for my family. No because I’ve had to work very hard and, at times, have taken on tremendous financial risk.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?  Your 25-year-old self? (200 words max)

To my 15-year-old self: Don’t over-think things. Life is dynamic and constantly changing.

To my 25-year-old self: Don’t get too cocky. Don’t try to do everything, and don’t think you know it all.

To my 35-year-old self: Persevere! Never give up!

To my 45-year-old self: Plan for the future.

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