People know Apurva Purohit as the business woman, the author, the mogul who led a startling array of media conglomerates. But growing up, they knew her as the good kid — the girl who studied hard, who loved reading, who was never particularly rebellious. Back in the late 80s, there were not too many career trajectories to choose from and Apurva followed the path that most good students did. She got into an IIM.
The year she graduated was the first time she deviated from the norm, even if only slightly — instead of a typical bank or corporate job, she went into a creative advertising agency. She knew right away that she loved working with brands. As she worked to help her clients grow, she started exploring different kinds of media and developed a deep understanding of the space. As is often the case when you love what you do, Apurva thrived. She led businesses. She reigned in boardrooms. She won awards. And then, at the peak of her career, just as she was getting used to the respect, awe and adulation that her role brought, she gave it all up. It was her time to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
As she explains her thinking behind the move, she says, ‘You start off with the idea of building brands, you graduate to building businesses. But eventually you realise that you are actually building people and creating impact, no matter which ecosystem you are operating in. I got to a point where I started asking myself if there was something more I could do, some greater impact I could create in spaces where it was needed.’
Then the pandemic started. As someone who came from a very liberal household and was brought up to value equality and fairness, she found that she could not ignore the inequalities she saw before her. ‘I had the resources, I had the experience, I had the courage and ability to make change. Then why wasn’t I doing it?’
Apurva admits that she’s not a foodie, and never has been. But a couple of years back, she had visited a local Maharashtrian food expo near her house — and was blown away by the flavours and varieties she saw there. The vendors were all independent sellers from the tiniest villages and rural districts in the state. During the pandemic, she wondered what happened to those women who had impressed her so much that day. Upon further investigation, she realised that they were still making the traditional food items that they specialised in — but they did not have a marketplace to sell their wares. Apurva knew that she had found her answer. This was where she could create a greater impact. This was how she could even out a little bit of the inequalities around her. That’s the day she co-founded Aazol with a very special partner — her son.
Aazol is the Maharashtrian term for one’s maternal grandmother’s house — and the very word evokes a particular warmth, love and nostalgia that spills across regions and generations. With their authentic, traditional, home-grown food offerings, the brand lives up to all the memories that the word carries.
When asked which of her many achievements she is proudest of, Apurva says something surprising. ‘In the 32 years of my working life, I have never once made a CV.’ This is an amazing factoid when you consider the high profile roles she has held. But that’s the power of reputation and prestige, and today Apurva is using every bit of this hard-earned currency to make Aazol the greatest marketplace there is.