Danny Garg’s mind has always raced to solve problems ever since he was a child. It was this creative energy that helped fuel Danny to build his thriving business, Valka Yoga, selling sustainable, functional yoga mats and accessories. With over 20,000 yoga mats sold so far, Danny is committed to his company’s goal of producing ‘the most eco-friendly yoga mat in the world’. Valka Yoga proudly proclaims the title of ‘New Zealand’s leading supplier of ethically and sustainably sourced yoga mats and accessories’ and is making gains in the Australian market. Now, Danny has his sights set on the United States of America.
Dharma is the yogic principle of living in alignment with one’s purpose, and Danny has always aspired to create a business. His decision to participate in the Velocity programme run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was in obvious alignment with Danny’s ambitions. At first, his intention was to simply “test the waters while meeting like-minded people.” But the experience far exceeded his expectations. “The Velocity programme encouraged me to think big and empowered me to act on my vision.” Danny also made lifelong friends and formed valuable networks.
Although Danny never wavered from his vision of starting a business, it took time to figure out what his business would be. After graduating from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Laws and Commerce, Danny pursued a traditional corporate consultancy role but felt his creativity was stifled. “Innovation was all but discouraged.” But in his spare time, Danny’s innovative mind could not be stopped.
The spark of an idea ignited while Danny was in child’s pose, a yoga position where one’s nose is in close proximity to the yoga mat. Danny had purchased a popular mat from a premium brand – but it was emitting an unpleasant odour, as well as proving to be slippery. Neither quality is ideal in a yoga mat. It was his subsequent product research that unveiled more undesirable features of popular mats currently on the market. Many were made from cheap plastic, mimicking more expensive rubber and used glues and dyes that were harmful to the environment. This did not sit well with Danny, especially since he felt yoga means “the union of ourselves with our communities and our planet.” And so, Valka Yoga was born.
Like any newborn, Valka Yoga took a lot of nurturing to grow into the thriving business it is today. Thousands of hours were spent on product research and finding the right manufacturer. “To me, the two most important aspects of our products were their quality and that they be produced following ethical practices.” The ethical and sustainable mantra of Valka Yoga resonated with customers, and the growing profits soon meant Danny could leave the corporate world and focus on the future of his business. Like the transition from crawling to walking, the natural step after NZ was the Australian market. Now Danny is ready to run: “Over the next few months, we are gearing up for a launch in the USA.”
Danny’s advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs boils down to action, persistence and patience. He believes many people get fixated on perfecting the idea when much of the success lies in the execution. “Analysis paralysis is a very real thing. As a conscientious student, I frequently fall into this trap. I encourage people with ideas to act on them fast without fear of failure.” Danny also believes patience is the yin to the yang of action in business and that it is a crucial quality for success, “In a world where everyone has a short attention span, patience is a superpower.”
While sustainability and ethics are at the core of Danny’s business, he believes that they should be for every business. “Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of their choices and are more likely to support businesses that prioritise sustainability.” With the rise of social media, customers are also holding companies to account, “A company’s perception in the eyes of the consumer is more important than ever.”
Finally, Danny encourages people to start a business for the right reasons. “Many people look at entrepreneurship as an escape from the 9 to 5 and not having to answer to anyone.” However, according to Danny owning your own business means you are answerable to many more people. “An entrepreneur is often accountable to many people – their employees, their customers, their co-founders and investors, and most of all, themselves.”