Designed to Succeed

Who says caricatures go hand in hand with only celebrities and political bigwigs? In keeping with the latest trend, personalised caricatures on coffee mugs, posters, T-shirts, and the like, are being bandied as gift ideas.

Recognising the potential of the idea, Ankit Vatsa and Prannoy Kothari decided to quit well-paying jobs to start Dezains Inc, a company that specialises in designing caricature-inspired products. In the bargain, they have ended up with better paying jobs which are a lot more fun.

Vatsa, a 25-year-old from Patna, and 24-year-old Kothari, who hails from Mumbai, have known each other since their engineering days at BITS Pilani. While Vatsa graduated in 2009, Kothari graduated in 2010. Both were expected to follow a career in engineering, but the duo was more interested in T-shirt designing.

However, they knew that the market was oversaturated. Says Kothari: “Customised printed tees are available dime a dozen, so it would have been hard to capitalise on these. Moreover, it’s difficult to personalise each product.”

The product differentiator was staring them in the face. Vatsa’s elder brother, Amrit, had been designing caricatures for free on his blog, but it was Vatsa, who was working with a coaching centre in Mumbai at the time, recognised its potential.

He consulted with Kothari, who was employed with HP in Bangalore. Towards the end of 2010, the business model was conceived and over the next six months, they worked on various aspects of the business, including designing the website for the company.

“We didn’t quit our jobs immediately as we wanted to save as much as possible for the start-up,” says Kothari. The buffer time also served another important purpose-test-proofing the concept. Says Vatsa: “Once I decided that this was what I wanted to do for a living, I asked Amrit to help me brush-up my skills.”

He then launched a simple website and started making digital caricatures for free. He got a good response and this gave the duo the confidence to start Dezains. Around April 2011, Kothari quit his job and shifted to Mumbai, and Vatsa did the same.

Finally, in August 2011, Dezains got off the ground with a seed capital of Rs4 lakh that came from the duo’s pockets. The initial set-up consisted of the two friends and an office-cum-storehouse at Dahisar, Mumbai. They also launched a new website, Dezains.com, around this time.

Their product repertoire, ranging from tees and coffee mugs to photo frames and fridge magnets, has seen sales of Rs 4.5-5 lakh a month on an average. All products are priced at Rs 200-1,200.

To cater to the growing demand, they have employed three full-time and six part-time caricature artists, and have tied up with group buying portals like Snapdeal. Dezain broke even in January this year and, though the duo plans to continue pumping money into the company, Vatsa and Kothari are taking a monthly salary of Rs70,000 each. Clearly, passion pays.

(here is the link of the original article as published in the Economic Times)