Friday, December 7, 2012

KraftInn - The Journey so far

After coming fresh out of my college in 2004, I got a job with an MNC bank in the sales division. But, you may say, because of peer pressure or whatever, I started to believe that to make a solid career in the corporate sector, you need to hop around jobs. Because of no reason, I started looking for better jobs as I was not very clear of what I really wanted. By this time, I ended up in a start-up software company and heading the BFSI domain for the Northern Region.The experience in working in a start-up company was incredible. In a start- up company, you are master of your own destiny. It may be scary sometimes but the sense of responsibilities and ownership drives you to work incredibly hard and allows you to enter into a territory which was unknown to you. There are no cleared defined roles but you will need to get involved in all aspects of the business. This helped me a lot to sharpen my entrepreneurial skills and gave me well rounded view of how a business operates. During October 2009, there was a massive economic slowdown in US, which directly affected the business in India. The company where I was working had to be shut down. I was left with no job and almost no savings of my own.

By virtue of our experience in a start-up, I realized that I too can also build a company. With few of my friends/colleagues, we started a consultancy firm “ROPeS Consulting” named after the initial of the partners name. But, we were not able to match up with the competition and failed in our attempt. Not to mention that recruitment is not among the most lucrative of spaces during a downturn :). The experience made me realize that building a company requires a good understanding of the area in which it operates and also the importance of building core competency.

I packed my bags to Bangalore to start afresh. My brothers are well established in software companies in Bangalore. I discussed with my brothers about the intention of starting a business. There were few ideas spinning around our head at the time but I was not very clear about how to start . Finally, we zeroed up with a thought to start something which can promote the crafts and hand-looms of NE India which has a lot of potential and is being unexplored and untouched. My brothers, sister-in- law ensured their full support and confidence in me. Immediately, we brainstormed about the name for the firm and booked the domain name www.kraftinn.com.
 
Assam is well known for art and craft skills. It is home to 140 different tribes and every tribe practices a different style of craft. The sense of simplicity, style and richness of handicrafts and hand looms in this part of India is truly limitless. So, the name Kraftinn struck, its a slight twist of two words- ‘craft’ that symbolizes our desire to design unique products and harness the skills of artisans who have evolved over generations and ‘inn’ where people passing by, can experience a little bit of the local culture. We envisioned www.kraftinn.com as a place where people can get a little bit of the unique north east culture and take it back to their homes as tangible artifacts like lamps and bags.
 
Once we had decided on what type of business we would like to run it was then just a case of doing some research work. We looked at various websites and drew up a list of products which were selling and were popular at that time. For the first three months, much of my time went on extensive field research, meeting artisans of different crafts work across the region.

At the beginning, we have chosen bamboo because of its characteristics and availability in Assam. Bamboo home d├ęcor has a good demand and this market is largely disorganized and it’s largely a very niche and untapped category. Besides this, we wanted to start something which will address sustainable income to the artisans, environmental and social awareness by using Eco-friendly products, reviving the dying art forms of Northeast.

I went to Delhi, with some of the samples collected from a local shop from Guwahati, and showed some of the samples to few known exporters. Luckily, we got a lead from a exporter and they introduced me to a reputed designer who was working on a bamboo project. And to our rescue, we clicked our first order of 100 lamps with some amount of customization. That was great sign to start and we were at the top of the world. We were very happy with the start as we were not aware of the challenges of delivering.


- Parikshit Borkotoky


Founder, Kraftinn

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