Kartik Jain, Founder,Picsquare

Back in the yesteryears, we used to personalize everything we could in a bid to appear cool, or at least we tried to. Then customization hit the mainstream and suddenly everything was mass personalized, cars were being customized, so were mobiles, people were getting unique tattoos, anything and everything that could carry your personal signature was fair game.

Karthik Jain a Young Entrepreneur has thrown his personal spin to the Customization frenzy. Karthik told us what his deal is about, he says, "Picsquare is an online shop for photo printing and buying / creating custom merchandise like mugs, tshirts, calendars, key-chains etc.

Photo Printing can be done by uploading photos directly to Picsquare or importing their photos from already exsiting sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa. Today, we offer more than 3000 products online. The selection in our design comes from our growing designer community. Designers across the world contribute to our website and we put these designs on our products."

Picsquare was primarily started as an online photo printing service in December 2005 by teo young graduates from IIT Bombay, Kartik Jain and Manish Agrawal. The service was initially targetted towards the NRI's, as there wass a clear value proposition to send photos and personalized gifts from abroad to friends and family in India. The service started growing in India since mid 2006 and became one of the best photo printing and personalized merchandize sites in the last 2 years. Karthik filled us in on the rest of the details - "Picsquare has grown tremendously over the last few years with more than 100% growth year on year. We have more than 5 million photos uploaded online, and have catered to more than 25,000 customers across 250 cities in India."

Picsquare provides a host of services to its ever increasing customer base including the following:

a) Printing photos for themselves and shipping to friends and family across India

b) Sending photos from abroad to India.

c) Creating amazing quality photo gifts and surprising their family members and loved ones.

d) Gifting special products with a personalized touch.

"There are 2 sets of customers with the following benefits,” explains Karthik, “NRI's - These are people who are settled abroad but want to connect to their friends and family in India. We offer a very valuable service of connecting people with the help of photographs and personalized merchandise. The second category are resident Indians comprising of people who are internet savvy and prefer online convenience over the hassle to go the brick and mortar photo studios. The value proposition that we offer to them is that we have a huge and unique selection of products, which the normal photo studio would be unable to provide."

You must be thinking what makes Picsquare different from the local printing cum card shop and why one would choose them over the others. Karthik explains why you would choose Picsquare saying "Our key differentiators would be a rich user experience, amazing quality of products and a huge selection of products. The business model is based on Printing of photos and merchandize like tshirts, calendars, mugs, keychain etc." Going forward, Picsquare plans to scale the business in both the verticals of Photo Printing and Customized / Personalized Merchandize.

Karthik explained how he came to be an entrepreneur. He says "Entrepreneurship is something that I admire from my childhood days. The reason being that it not only requires courage and sacrifice, but creates a difference in the lives of not just an individual, but the whole community. It is not about money and power, but about passion and dreams. I always believed that there are 2 kinds of men in this world. One who dreams about their lives and the second, who are ruled by the lives. Both kinds live their lives and vanish in the pool of humanity with little or no traces. It was at the Entrepreneurship Cell, IITB, when I met the third kind of men - these are men who lived their dreams. These are men who create the difference. These are men who put that extra bit to achieve excellence. These are men set out to change the way our world functions. And I decided that I want to be one of them."

He has learnt from personal experience that as an entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is to gather a good team of professionals, who can help you achieve what you have set out to achieve. He says "Since we were first generation entrepreneurs, and fresh out of college when we started off, not a lot of people agreed to join us. However, we overcame this issue, by getting on board strong, experienced and influential advisors, who helped us, in getting the candidates who believes in us and the company."

"As amateur entrepreneurs, I think we took each and every opportunity that came by our way as big, without really digging deep into what the consequences could be. We used to take up things which were not really long term. My advice to amateur entrepreneurs would be to spend the maximum amount of time in refining your product, making the product useful for the people and masses and identifying the right business opportunities that could make the business big. If anything that comes your way does not help you do the above three things, then move past it and concentrate on generating revenues."

The seed capital for his venture was raised with the help of TIE-EAP programme and funded by individuals from India and abroad. Karthik told us how things have proceeded since their inception; he says "Picsquare has grown tremendously over the last 3 and a half years. Picsquare has grown over the last few years with more than 100% growth year on year. We have more than 5 million photos uploaded online, and have catered to more than 25000 customers across 250 cities in India. We got acquired by an online retailing company, Infibeam.com, based out of Ahmedabad in late 2008. We are still based out of Bangalore and would continue to operate from here."

Picsquare is the first company to be selected for the TiE - EAP Program, which was the first of its kind program started by TiE Bangalore. Not only that, but Picsquare was also awarded the “Best Designed Photo Website” in the Year 2007 by PC World India and was also nominated for the TATA NEN hottest start-ups contest. Picsquare has been making waves and getting recognition.

We asked Karthik if he had ever contemplated working a normal 9-5 job, he said "No. The journey so far had been so exciting, that it never occurred to me go back to a regular job." Karthik proclaimed his vision for the future saying "I want to make Picsquare the No 1 brand in India for Photo Printing and Customized/Personalized Merchandize. I want to make Picsquare synonymous to photos/photo gifts, as Google is for search." Karthik also told us that he considers his most memorable personal laurels, to be the award he received for “Best Student of the Year” in Class 10 and he says "As a company we received the “Best Designed Website in Photo Printing” in 2007. This meant the most to me, as it was a lot of hard-work and appreciated by an eminent panel of judges."

Karthik shared his insights on entreprenurship with our readers, he said "Entrepreneurship is not easy, but it's neither tough. The role of an entrepreneur is to find solutions to problems. He is a good problem solver. So, solve the problems that you get on your way and you will definitely reach your goals. Be focused, aggressive and fast. Energize yourself and your team to build the next big company."


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