Managing Director & CEO - mPort.
New Zealand was something of a culture shock for 11 year old Dipra Ray when he first arrived from Kolkata, India.
His family, who had visited NZ previously on holiday and fell in love with the empty spaces and relaxed lifestyle, appropriately referred to their newly adopted country as the “Green Island.” It was certainly a contrast to their former life, particularly when it came to school, but the change also provided a series of new opportunities for everyone.
“In India I had been studying nine subjects with lots of rote learning. NZ schools were so much more relaxed and the learning environment was a lot less strict.
My mother played a key role in integrating us into NZ society and making us part of the community and my father worked incredibly hard to establish his own business which taught me the value of hard work. Both of my parents showed me that every success comes from some form of sacrifice and that perseverance is key.”
Not surprising then that Dipra decided to follow his father’s lead establishing his first business at 17, Dars Tutoring Services which paired high performing students with those requiring additional learning support.
At its peak the business had more than 60 students on its books along with 20 student tutors which was an early learning experience for the budding entrepreneur.
“I learnt a significant amount in my first business – it taught me the skills of building a professional network and working with a range of people including students, teachers and the like. Most importantly, I learnt that sometimes there are unexpected challenges and that perseverance is key to resolving them.”
Dipra says enrolling in a Bachelor of Commerce was always inevitable given the keen interest in business he had developed from a young age.
“My plan was to work really hard and graduate in less than three years. I originally wanted to leave university as quickly as possible but I found I really enjoyed the learning environment where I could nourish and grow my broader skill sets of leadership and building organisations so I ended up being in less of a hurry than I originally intended.
I’m particularly grateful to Prof. Jilnaught Wong for his encouragement in helping me to pursue entrepreneurship. It was his belief that I could lead from the front and that I had an ability to identify unique opportunities and to execute them that gave me the confidence to go down this path.”
Starting a not-for-profit called SavY while still at university provided a foundation for applying the methodologies taught in class.
SavY aims to create better financial habits amongst young people and has conducted over 1,000 workshops since its inception. Now 10 years old it has educated well over 60,000 students nationally while Dipra continues to serve as its Chairman.
“I’m very proud of SavY and what it’s been able to achieve. We know that NZ doesn’t have a good record of teaching financial literacy to students and I’m pleased to have been able to do something to try and change that.”
Dipra’s latest project is building mPort, co-founding the business with two friends from high school. The business is building the world’s first measurement passport aimed at creating healthier and more confident users. It is currently in the process of deploying its fully automated 3D body mapping pods throughout Australia and the US. To date, it has measured over 250,000 people and continues to grow rapidly.
“This innovation will make life easier for people, particularly when it comes to getting tailor made clothing, but it also has many other applications from a health and wellbeing perspective.” Reflecting on the evolution of his career to this point, Dipra says that things have turned out somewhat differently from his original plans.
“I left university planning to go into investment banking. I always knew I would venture out into something of my own at some point, but I wouldn’t have predicted how quickly that has happened. However, I’m delighted to have gone on the journey I’ve experienced to date and look forward to creating more opportunities in the future.”