In conversation with Raj Armani a true blue entrepreneur who learnt about business in a hard way and emerged successful. He then thought of starting something which he felt about strongly. He is now the founder if an Adult Lifestyle Brand with Sunny Leone as the brand ambassador.
Wanna know more? Dive in!
So tell us in detail about your life?
RA: My life currently is a balancing act between my super hectic work schedule running an online company, learning, teaching and growing with my kids 5 & 2, and the routine parenting and housekeeping with my beautiful wife, planning our day to day activities and future with my Mom and lastly spending quality time with my two sisters and their families. At work front I am the BOSS, who drives the engine and takes the blame, puts out fires and fires up ideas and innovations – my work family is 15 intelligent & creative professionals who keep me on my toes in the day time and my kids who do this in the evening. I am fortunate to have this immense love and the courageous, loving and caring women in my immediate orbit – They keep me grounded and keep my mind at peace so I can focus on growth and betterment. I love to travel so that is about 4-6 times a year to Europe, Asia, North & South America mostly for work and at least twice with the family. To stay fit and sharp, I play badminton competitively and to fuel a fried up brain I catch up on entertainment on TV or current affairs on my social networks. And yes I also cook, last evening I made this amazing Persian style Saffron Chicken recipe which was baked to crisp golden perfection – It was so good that I just tasted it again when I thought about it.
Tell us something about your life while you grew up? Family? Siblings?
RA: My life growing up was very interesting and I can recall many exciting things happen. When I came out in the world, my parents had high hopes on me, the first child so they named me after a Persian King. I grew up with my parents and grandparents equal times because my Dad who was a Doctor moved to Iran for work. So I would stay in Hyderabad, India and attend the St Joseph’s Public School for 6-7 months, write my exams and get shipped to Iran for the summer holidays. This gave me a taste of two cultures growing up. In the later years, we all moved back to India and I started with a new set of friends and my own business. At 18 I was the owner of three garment store in Hyderabad called Fantoosh. Life was good. Money was easy. Cars were flashy. Schedules were non-existent. In a few years, we moved to the US and things changed. Suddenly we were in a country where everything appeared larger than life and it seems you had to start again from scratch. That was a fun first 2 years where I got fired twice, then I started my company and lost all my savings as the concept failed. In a few years learning perseverance and determination I was able to taste my first success with a cellular business called Cingular Wireless. In two years I made more than I made in the last 10 years..and then life was good again. I travelled to many places for fun and recreation with friends and family…Being single you see the world with a different lens. I sold my cellular business and opened up an ultra-modern and trendy restaurant called Bollywood Cafe to put to life my two favourite passions – food & movies. It was then I met my wife, Jenny and life got better. We moved to Atlanta (from Florida) after getting married in 2010 and our first child was born in 2014. We named him Ayden. That was the BEST day of my life, and every day after when I see our son grow up into this fine young man. In 2017 our second son, Aryan was born. My life got even better.
Now as I feel proud and accomplished with what I have done with my kids, I am quite relaxed about work. If I succeed or not, I know I have hit the jackpot with Ayden & Aryan 🙂
Tell us something about your schooling and college.
RA: Schooling was attending St Josephs Public school in Hyderabad, and the very exciting life of an elementary to middle school. Trying to get great marks, Trying to find reasons why you didn’t to your parents and teachers, fighting distractions like play and games in elementary and girls and girlfriends in middle school. I know I had an outrageous sense of humour which got me in trouble quite often. But then my good looks then got me out of it. My favourite teacher Ms Rebecca would have more stuff to say about me but let’s not go there. They had this silly thing in our school, they would make us wear ‘SPEAK IN ENGLISH’ sash to punish us for speaking in Hindi. I don’t know why they thought I should wear it for half a year because my written Hindi sucked and I would mostly be a marginal JUST pass in Hindi exams and my English scores were always in Top 10 percentile. Nevertheless, If I am wearing something I do that with pride, so after I was done, wearing a sash was considered quite trendy. Later I moved to Tehran where I completed my 9th & 10th class (CBSE) and made many friends and more interesting stories. Those were some of the best years of my early life. Moving back to India for my 11th and 12th I did it at an Army School – KVT in Sainikpuri, Secunderabad. There too I had my fair share of trouble, I took the fight with the most dreaded gangster type senior who failed to rag me, kissed the daughter of a general in front of principals office and much more I can’t share or I say I can’t remember. After that college was three years at Wesley Boys College in Secunderabad which was more of a placeholder for me to give my exams and get a degree. At that point, life didn’t have to have a meaning. You were living one day at a time. Aka Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara!
Tell us something about your life as the Founder of an Adult Lifestyle brand? How is your typical day like?
RA: Imagine the PlayBoy Mansion. Imagine 2 hot bunnies at the front door who would walk you to your office and get you a drink before you start your day. Imagine having a view of the pool where another 100 bunnies are sunbathing and chilling in the pool. Imagine opening the tall self-portrait on the wall and key into your safe to set aside 4 stacks of $10,000 for the weekend’s plan. Well if you thought that was our life, you are my friend king of imagination. Our work starts when we open our eyes and ends when we close for the night. In between, you get to speak to teams across 4 timezones, respond to about 20-30 emails and let go of the same amount in backlog, drive to office work in a pretty cool conference room only carrying your laptop. Dare you to miss on any priority task and it comes to bite you back. Plan the day, and by the time you get a break at 6 pm it lunch time…On it goes till 8 pm when you say F**K it, gotta go see the kids and will resume this tomorrow…Next, say the same repeat!
How did you come across this concept of a website for an Adult Lifestyle website?
RA: In spring 2011 I moved to California to set up a new company which was going to be one of the coolest Pizza concepts. It was called PizzaBabe – which meant, Smoking Hot Babes will deliver Piping Hot Pizzas on their BabeMobile. Well three months and about Fifty grand into this experiment, one night one of my friends and my co-founder Salim on a call started talking about how India was becoming the next hot spot for all major brands worldwide and how the disposable income was on rising in India. The fact that 65% of the Indian population was under 35 years age astonished us. One of us joked about how India is becoming the fastest Porn consuming country thanks to the internet and phones. This leads to us thinking why don’t we sell a product they don’t have access to, and that targets this audience, essentially a pleasure gel. In two weeks the idea grew up to be a full-fledged adult store. We ran across many names to find the best and somehow the name Besharam had the right ring to it. It was not obscene, sounded mischievous and was an accepted term in common day conversations. Two weeks later we registered the company and a few weeks later we signed up Sunny Leone to be the face of the brand. That was 2011. We went LIVE on July 6, 2013.
Do you think India is ready for this?
RA: If you would have asked me this question in 2011 when we thought of this, I would have said I am not very sure but we have already jumped. Now after 7 years of that day, after 500,000 paid customers, more than 250,000 social media followers, more than 200 media mentions and interviews, over 2 billion impressions and Economic Times accounting this to be a $360M market in 2016, to double by 2020, I would only say this – HECK YES! Its more ready now than it has ever been in the last 1900+ years since KamaSutra was completed.
Do you believe that Sexual Intimacy between 2 partners plays an important role in a relationship?
RA: Absolutely. Sexual Intimacy is the like the spice in my biryani and the gear knob in my car, without which relationship is bekar! Jokes aside, sexual intimacy brings not only the couple together physically but also bonds them mentally, brings the love, respect and trust to the most optimum level. Show me a relationship which is void of this and I will show you a relationship that will not wither the test of times.
Making Sunny Leone as the face of the brand is a great idea. How did that happen?
RA: It was a natural integration at the moment when we discussed India, its fascination with TV shows and movies and how America is such a huge influence. Right around the time we started this discussion, we heard about Sunny Leone come back home after her time in BigBoss and she was offered a movie role. That was a sign for us. She lived about 30 mins from where I was at that time in LA. She matched our brand’s vision perfectly, being an American catering to the audience in India, bold & courageous who lived life on her terms. The timing & vision aligned, the rest, as they say, is history.
Do you think technology has changed the way people perceive relationships?
RA: Technology has brought in the biggest revolutions in our times by changing the way we lead our lives. If I understand your question correctly, yes it has impacted what defines being in a relationship or experiencing it. For many, it boils down to how many friends and followers have liked or appreciated their posts on social media, what people say or will not say about your online relationship status. How you meet the person who you want to chat or interact with, and how you trust each other based on your online identity and popularity. It has reduced conversations to IM’s, memories to posts and tweets, and the experiences to an artificial influence which is pressured by your peers and you are well-wishers.
On a side note, technology has also reduced the distance between two people in a relationship by eliminating the gap in their sexual intimacy gap. Now we have pleasure devices and gadgets like Lovense Nora and Max where the couple no matter what part in the world can make love to each other with the High Tech Sex Gadgets through Internet. So while technology has extinguished many fires, it has also created some back in relationships for the willing mind.
Any books that you have read in recent times and would recommend for couples?
RA: You have the wrong guy here who has not been reading books for the longest time but plans to catch up back to it. Something my wife recommended when I asked her this question is ‘The seven principles of making marriage work’
Any series that you are currently watching? Any movies that are on your must-watch list?
RA: I love thrillers the most and second best are the Whodunits. We are watching ‘How to get away with Murder’ and ‘Suit’ both are great watch after finishing ‘Jack Ryan’. We just recently saw ‘The Invisible Guest’ which was the Spanish movie from which ‘Badla’ was made. The few movies I can recommend as must watch is ‘Head-Hunters’ and ‘The Invisible Guest’