SupportBiz talked to Rajesh Bhadreshwara, co-founder of Fresko. Edited excerpts:
Since when has Fresko been in operation?
Since November 2010.
Tell us about the background of the founders…
All four co-founders – Akshit Salian, Akash Shukla, Alok Yadav and me – are associated with the fine arts in some way or the other.
I am a third year student of engineering and a passionate lover of art, as are my friends. Alok is a B.Com. student. Akshit is a student of BMM, and has worked as a creative member and visualiser for Glamsham.com. Akash is also a BMM student.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Fresko?
The idea of Fresko came about on a lazy vacation day, when I was enthusiastically painting a beautiful design that I had found in my wardrobe. It was then that the idea struck me: I would enjoy doing this professionally, and so would my friends. I talked to my friends about this, and the idea clicked. It started as a small venture to earn some extra money, but has become a small business now.
Tell us about the initial investment that was needed to start Fresko…
We started with an investment of INR12,000, which entirely went into buying paints and other supplies. The amount was arranged for from our personal funds completely.
How big is your team, presently?
We are a team of seven people at present.
What is your business model?
Whenever we get a call from a customer for a mural in his/her house/office, the first thing we do is visit their house, talk to them and get a rough idea of what they are looking for – the kind of design, theme, colours, etc. Then, we make a rough draft of the design and approach the customer with it. The customer might give his approval after a few rounds of discussion and/or changes to the design. It is at this stage that we go ahead with creating the final design.
How do you market your business?
We are quite active on our Facebook page, which is where we get a majority of our customers from. Apart from this, we get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals from our satisfied clients. We participate in college festivals regularly, which goes a long way towards spreading awareness about our venture and bringing in business. We also periodically offer discounts and deals on sites like Deals And You, CutMRP and Snapdeal, which brings us a lot of orders.
Who are your target customers?
Our target customers are largely youths, especially college-goers, as well as newly-weds who are ready to experiment with their walls.
Tell us about the competition in your line of business…
The concept of wall murals being fairly new in India, we do not really have much competition. That said, we do have indirect competition from the paints giant – Asian Paints – which has introduced wall murals. However, we offer highly customized and unique wall murals, as opposed to the ones that Asian Paints offers. No two murals of ours are the same, and that is what sets us apart from competition.
What are the major challenges that you face?
One of the biggest challenges that we face is convincing customers to place an order with us, since, as I said earlier, the concept of wall murals is a fairly new one in India. However, once people have seen our work, they are completely convinced and ready to work with us again or recommend us to their near and dear ones.
That apart, getting the right colours is a big challenge for us. The colours that we use are not the usual ones that are used in painting walls, and their availability is limited.
Thirdly, there is the problem of marketing. Since we are still in the start-up stage, it is difficult for us to make ourselves known to a larger audience.
What are your expansion plans?
We will soon be introducing ‘wall décor’ in the market, which are stickers that buyers can stick on their walls to get an effect similar to a customized wall mural. They will be less expensive than having a personalized wall mural painted.
We have also recently taken on two graffiti artists on our team and, with their help, we intend to promote the art of graffiti in India in the near future.
What have been your major learnings from business?
Product quality is something that an entrepreneur should never compromise on. He/she might get away with it for some time, but in the long run, it only serves to damage their reputation and destroy their business.
The constant introduction of new products and/or services, giving something unique to your customers periodically, is crucial.
Marketing is very, very, very important. We have learnt the hard way that it is crucial to undertake marketing in order to get into the public eye, and stay there.