1. Was entrepreneurship something you always aimed for?
While I was pursuing textile design at NIFT, New Delhi, I met a lot of aspirants who were confused whether they should pursue design as a career. There was a lack of system, set-up and mechanism to address their queries. In 2009, when medicine and engineering was the pre-requisite for a large chunk of students, I saw immense potential and scope in the field of design. Since I lacked guidance and had to struggle a lot to prepare for NIFT, it inspired me develop a platform for those who are on the page I was back then.
In the last session, I taught four aspirants crack the exam and realised that teaching is actually fun. Initially, there were just a couple of training institutes for NID and NIFT. Even pre-existing fashion coaching centers had no authority on the subject, so I capitalised on this scarcity and paved my way to ‘Desizn Circle’.
2. How was the idea incepted? What are addressing to the market?
I was just a mentor, teaching creative ability and 3D Modelling. Once all my four students qualified the NIFT entrance exam with flying colours, it boosted my confidence in teaching and cemented my idea to take it to the next level.
There was a dire need of a dedicated training institute, which would also guide students on their skills, grasping power, creativity and general ability, and a good mentor to motivate students.
Since the students and their parents are mostly confused about the department of design, nature of the career options, job security etc., I decided to first counsel them, train them for a week and then test their aptitude, which actually turned things around.
3. What's the story behind the name of this business?
‘Desizn Circle’ is inspired by a group of friends and colleagues who have similar goals and ambition and are interested in design, just the way there is a friend circle. Of course, IPR made us spell it as ‘Desizn Circle’.
4. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
As the number of students grew, we needed a bigger space, better infrastructure and a highly professional team. Above all, we needed investment. It was hard to pitch VCs and angel investors at that time so I had opted for personal loans for the process to carry on. Initially, it was hard to achieve the break-even till all my students cracked the exam.
The consecutive year saw a large number of students, increased by 200 percent. Then our prime focus was to create a good professional team. I hired some designers who also wanted to teach drawing and creative ability. I hired trainers for general ability. We wanted to be the best in this business with a cutting edge professional team. It took time but now we have the best team working in coordination with the students.
5. Please share details of the number of customers, product/service offered, current business size and revenue generated in current fiscal.
We train students from Class 10 who wish pursue graduation in design as well as graduates who wish to pursue design or fashion management as their career.
Be it NID, NIFT, IIT or any international design college, we have customised niche professional courses for all the students. So far, we have trained over 7,000 students across Indian and international design colleges.
Our annual turnover for the fiscal year 2018-19 was more than Rs 2 crore. We have about 1,200 students. Our programme includes classroom training, postal courses as well as online courses. We expect it to be around Rs 4.5 crores this time.
6. Tell us about your geographical/physical presence.
We started at Hauz Khas Village in Delhi. We've also launched our center in Noida 2018. We also offer ‘postal courses’ for students who hail from other different states, and arrange accommodation for them. We've students from Tamil Nadu as well as from Jammu, studying with us.
To expand our services, without compromising quality, we've launched www.kochh.com, our online training platform. Students receive the same education, live classes, online test series. We are trying to map courses all over India. Our international special outreach programme has succeeded to train students from Nepal, Dubai and Sri Lanka. It's all a word of mouth game.
7. What was your initial investment?
In 2009, my initial investment was Rs 1 lakh rupees only. I later had to fuse in a lot.
8. Have you raised funding?
We have not raised funding yet. We plan to expand but online. About 80 percent of our students get into top-notch fashion designing colleges in India. We are looking to do advertisements, online and offline, and that demands a lot of capital. Online training has great potential. In six months, we have around 800 online students from almost all the Indian states.
9. Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?
There are many coaching classes with more than 20 centers across the country. But we have always focused on ethical training, focused learning, quality and vertical growth. Unlike others, we do not hire counsellors, we ourselves (designers), counsel parents, students as well as school teachers. We first train the students and then we decide on the admission. If we're giving quality education then we expect the same from the student. We also conduct seminars of International design colleges such as UAL, Istituto Marangoni, Domus Academy and SCAD. We commit and thrive to provide the best options for our students.
10. How do you see the growth scenario in this business?
There is immense potential in this field. From Make in India to award winning designers, everything has promoted design as a career in the last two years. The number of applicants has increased to almost 1 lakh. Students are even ready to spend over a crore for bachelors in design abroad. Even IIT has introduced design, and all the companies are hiring UI/UX designers, product designers etc. Identity of a brand is like the basic milestone of a brand.
11. What are your future plans?
We are focusing on online channels to reach students in every nook and corner of the country. We plan to tap all the cities, for all students who wish to excel in the fashion world. We are planning to launch a design award for students to motivate budding designers.As we have mentored and groomed more than 7,000 students, we gradually plan to design courses for our students as well as entrepreneurs to launch their own brand. We aim to produce good numbers of entrepreneurs in the fashion industry and design. Disclaimer: The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.