Ensemble Infrastructures, a company, which is barely five years old and is in the business of Interior fit-out and contracting, will soon cross $15mn turnover this fiscal. Vikas Rathod, promoter and co-founder, shares his journey with YourStory and talks about growth prospects in an industry, which is highly unorganised and fragmented.
Why an entrepreneur? Why didn't you pursue a regular job?
Job was never an option! I hail from a business family, which has been doing business for past three generations. Though I wanted to do a stint in some company for work-experience but I couldn't do so and, after graduation, I joined my family business. However, I left the business after a year to start something on my own, without any family help or financial aid.
Something on starting years
Well, starting years were very challenging & difficult. I didn't have enough experience of Interior-fit business as it was completely different from our family business and technical in nature. We started our business in Pune and operated from there for a year and a half before moving to Mumbai for better growth prospects.
Turning point in your business
Earlier, we used to often travel from Pune to Mumbai to market our proposition, but never received enough encouragement from customers since we were a Pune based company & didn't have relevant experience of executing projects in Mumbai. Working here in Mumbai was a different ball game altogether. The big break came soon when one of our prospective customers, Reliance Industries gave us the opportunity of executing their chairman's office, spread over 85,000 sft at Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) in Navi Mumbai. It was a huge challenge since the job had to be executed in 45 days and also required huge investments in working capital to manage the cash flows of the project. We didn't have any resource in this city: suppliers, labour strength, capital, adequate human resource. But we took the challenge and successfully executed the project. Since then, we have completed 3 chairman's offices of equal and bigger sizes for this customer.
Did at any point you felt like giving up and getting back to taking a job?
That was never an option, but yes, sometimes I do feel that working for a company would have equipped me better to resolve the problems I faced in initial years of the business. There is a risk and cost involved in going through the learning curve when you set-up your own business.
What drives you?
Growth & size has been the biggest driver for me in business. I never wanted to do anything on a small scale. We started this business with executing a 300sq ft office space for American Express. In less than 5 years, we have done interior-fit of more than 1.5mn sq ft of office space for some of the largest companies in the country & abroad. We will cross 15mn dollars in turnover this fiscal and employ over 100 people across the country.
On business - the differentiators of your business
Basically, this business in India is largely fragmented and un-organized; we were the first players to corporatise the business of interior fit-out contracting, by putting processes & people into the business to manage all the operations from marketing to payments. Over 50% of our projects even today get successfully delivered without the promoters' involvement. We also emphasise on repeat clientele. The business is immature in this country and it will take another five years to reach upto the standards of Singapore, UK or US. I also believe that one company will emerge as clear market leader of the industry with significant market share.
Vision for your enterprise
We have studied lot of models and businesses in our industry, but there is one company in UK which according to me is the market leader. We have worked very closely with them for around 6 months on a deal and have learned a lot from them. My vision for this company would be to replicate their business model. India is a huge market and growing at a pace of over 25% y-o-y for our business. I believe my company & our industry has huge potential as India will require lot of offices, malls, theatres and other infrastructure to become a developed nation in next 10 years.
Tips for budding entrepreneur
Too young to give any tips! I would be in a better position to answer this after a decade.