Meet this Mumbaiwala umbrella man!
"Rain is nature’s art; umbrella is man’s art. When you walk with your umbrella on a rainy day, you walk with a super art which is a combination of two different arts!”.
Pratik Doshi, an MBA graduate from Mumbai, has made this quote meaningful by building a business empire on umbrella. He is sharing with Mathrubhumi his success story and tells the young entrepreneurs about launching his brand 'Cheeky Chunk'. Those who wish to get drenched in rain need no umbrellas! But once you know about Pratik's umbrellas, you will definitely have an urge to go for it.
Q. What inspired you to develop 'Cheeky Chunk' brand?
A: We always associate monsoon with a variety of emotions. However, when it rains, all we carry is a boring black umbrella. Sometimes it may be a floral one. Hence, I thought of adding flavour to it by doodling everything we cherish about this beautiful season on top of an umbrella. Our one-line motto is to make holding an umbrella, which is essentially a utility, into a desirable fashion statement.
Q. The uniqueness of your brand?
A: The specialty of my umbrella is that not only it is of superior quality, but it also adds flavours to the rains. My designs signify each and every thing a person feels when it comes to rains. The food lovers have wada pav and chai umbrella; the rain lovers have the rain doodles and the cynics have the ‘it happens only in India umbrella’. We wanted to express our love for umbrellas and monsoon by creatively designing on umbrellas. Doodling is something we love and are open to designing anything that looks great on top of an umbrella.
Our differentiator has been design. Applying new technologies and graphics would become too expensive and we don’t think it would work in the Indian market. We are focusing on making high-quality umbrellas with unique designs as our differentiator. People are applying new technologies in countries like China and are importing them to India. However, the cost for them is really high. Also, we follow a make-in-India principle as requested by the Prime Minister. We are proud that we source each and every part of the umbrella from India itself.
Q. The investment to launch the business?
A. I prepared the designs with the help of a graphic designer. Once that was done, I searched for a manufacturer who could make them for me. I faced a lot of problems while making the perfect umbrella since I was very conscious for quality. It took us a year to find the correct team that makes premium quality umbrellas that match our vision.
When I started out, I invested Rs 1.35 lakh which I had earned by tutoring during my college days. Following this, I took a credit period from various suppliers and returned their amount as the sales started increasing.
Q. Who buys 'Cheeky Chunk' the most?
A. Everyone from a college going student to a high court judge and a school teacher uses our umbrellas. Sales are not only coming from metros like Mumbai, Bangalore, Kerala, Delhi, etc. – but also from small towns in Orissa, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Our target audience is anyone who wants to stand apart from the crowd and be different in their own unique way. While starting out, we only thought that college students from top metropolitan cities would purchase our product, but surprisingly that was proved wrong when an equal number of sales started coming from small towns as well.
Q. You launched Cheeky Chunk in 2014 and did limited marketing initially. Did you experience any hardships during that period?
A: Oh yes! In fact, a lot. I didn’t know anything about graphic designing, printing, e-commerce or manufacturing of an umbrella. I faced a lot of teething problems in each and every department during the first year. Instead of making a business plan, sorting the correct business model, talking to a few people and then proceeding to start my venture; I jumped into it first and focused on doing the next correct thing one by one and overcame each and every hurdle. There have been times when I have carried 10 kg of umbrellas cloth on my back for a couple of kilometres to see that it gets printed properly and manufactured on time.
Q. Did online marketing improved your sale?
A. Yes most of our sales come from e-commerce sites like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal along with our own website. For us, design and photography are the differentiators. Also, we do not believe in asking people to buy our products or forcing them to buy it. All we focus on is making the best quality product and displaying it to the best of our abilities and letting the consumers make a choice on whether they want to buy it or not.
Q. How well does your family support your venture?
A: I have had very supportive parents who have encouraged me in following my dreams. My father runs our family business which deals in trading of kraft paper and boards. I have an elder brother who is an investment banker. My mother is an acclaimed numerologist and tarot card reader.
Q. What was your dream about career during college days?
A. I was always confused on what profession I wanted to choose in life. I was very clear that I didn’t want to do a job like everyone else after college ended. Rather, I wanted to try doing something that’s not done before. I kept looking for ideas until I stumbled upon this idea of selling unique designer umbrellas. I completed my graduation from H.R College of Commerce and Economics and Post-Graduation from Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai
Q. Has the business been profitable so far?
A. By God’s grace, we have been profitable from first year. Because we are a self-funded company, we don’t believe in burning cash.
Q. Will you suggest business as a career option for new generation?
A. In my opinion, everyone should keep searching for ideas relentlessly. Until you get an idea that doesn’t let you sleep, doing a job is perfectly okay. But when you get one idea you firmly believe that could make a difference, you must go for it. All we have is just one life. Also, while making the plans for venturing out for doing your own business, you must always carefully plan that you don’t lose out on any money.