Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD, a Bangalore based multi disciplinary design studio
We at YourStory.in recently caught up with Abhijit Bansod, Design Entrepreneur & Founder of Studio ABD. In this interview for YourStory.in, Abhijit tells us more about his journey as a design entrepreneur so far.Abhijit is also the winner of the British Council’s Young Design Entrepreneur Awards in 2011. To know more about the Young Design Entrepreneur Awards, click here. To follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards on Facebook, check out http://www.facebook.com/YCEAwards
Tell us about Studio ABD.
At Studio ABD, we design from our heart. Our designs connect deeply with the user by telling vivid stories, by overlaying familiar with the new and surprising. We believe in celebrating creativity that combines fragments of Indian tradition with cutting-edge technology, and fuse cultural motifs with new age thinking. This conjures up sophisticated products that resonate with India’s rich past. Propelled by humour, craft, rituals, people, situations and Indian heritage, we create products that speak a unique language - An Indian Design Vocabulary.
What is the story behind creation of Studio ABD?
I worked for Titan Design Studio(TDS) for over a decade, 1998-2008 and it was an enriching experience. I evolved from being a designer to managing the Titan High End Brand. While at TDS, apart from just meeting the marketing requirements, I always stressed upon finding our own Indian stories. I began working on Heritage in early 2003 during my quest to discover what Indian design is and how it can be celebrated globally, and came up with “Titan Heritage” inspired from our infinite history, our rich heritage, and our fascinating culture. The Titan Heritage collection is a unique design voyage to discover the soul of India. Then I worked on “Titan Raga” which gave a new meaning to watches for the Indian woman, and Fastrack and many more. I quit Titan in 2008 to set up Studio ABD, to take up larger challenges of design and to reach out to many more segments. It was a tough decision to quit a high paying job and to start again from scratch. But the journey so far has been amazing, and fulfilling!What is your educational background?
After my degree in mechanical engineering, I did my post graduation in Product Design from National Institute of Design(NID), Ahmadabad. I had a wonderful time exploring my creative abilities at NID and those three and a half years laid a foundation for my passion of creating new possibilities.
Where is Studio ABD based?
We started studio ABD in 2008 in a small space in Whitefield suburb of Bangalore. The work environment is extremely important to productivity and happiness. So we've created a beautiful office space in the outskirts of Bangalore in Karnataka. A very green and charming place which has a spa, café, design stores and our office. We also opened our design store in Lake View Farm in March 2010 to showcase our collections.
Are you looking at hiring? How big is your team?
We're fewer than 10 people as of today. And, we take hiring very seriously. Though we get over 100 job applications every month, we're very particular about the people we hire as we are always looking for people who will help take Studio ABD to the next level. We value talent, creativity, and a sense that anything is possible. We are building a company to last. We have also tied up with other companies for business development, innovation management and brand development to bring our costs down and create best opportunities for our clients.
What are the various services that Studio ABD offers?
We play important role in co-creating tangible designs that seamlessly combine with brand values. Currently, we are playing a role of design partner to many big brands like HUL, RB, Titan, Tanishq , BPL etc. Currently we are working on many consumer and electronic appliances, luxury watches, FMCG packaging , branding and space design experiences. Our unique design process fuses trends, technology and tradition to create unique product, which connects deeply to the user by evoking his emotions. We understand that design is expensive and especially for startups, managing such funds becomes deterrent to use design. We have a special program for startups & SMEs so that they can use the power of design to make their businesses more competitive, and hence move from suppliers to brands. We call ourselves c-VCs(creative venture capitalist) and would be happy to creatively fund start-ups or small-scale organisations with design and brand requirements. We have couple of revenue models ranging from long term royalty to owning shares in the new firm. We want to create a platform where we could share our design capabilities, in product or thinking inspired by true Indian way of life. We have a collection named ‘Mubhi’, which celebrates the Indian way of life. Mubhi is a fusion of Indian handicraft and technology with sustainable design and manufacturing processes. We are retailing the collection through our flagship store ‘Design Katha’ in Bangalore.
Share with us some of your past success stories.
My decade long association with Titan has many success stories as an individual designer and as creative head for Titan brands. Individually, collections like Titan Heritage, Titan Black, Fastrack branding, Fastrack masala were extremely successful. Titan Heritage was my own effort to blend Indian stories in watch making, and it was not only very well appreciated by users, it also won Best Design award in BW-NID Design Brilliance award in 2008. As a creative head , our Indian influence on Ttian Raga has seen the brand growing from 40 crore to 200 + crore in the matter of few years. One of our first projects at studio ABD, BPL Studylite, a Led lamp specially designed for kids went on creating history by winning Red Dot Award in 2010(one of the most prominent international design awards). It was probably the first time that Indian design company won this prestigious award. We were awarded Best Designer of the Year in 2008 by BW-NID Design Brilliance award for our work.
What were the challenges you faced while starting up?
As any start up, funds and finding qualified resources were the main hurdles for us. We managed to get good projects from Titan and Jindal in the beginning, we also got a couple of retainer-ships. This helped us sail through the first year. And awards, PR, our story published in Rashmi Bansal’s ‘Connect the Dots’ also drew more clients to us in the last couple of years.
Where did you acquire the capital to startup?
I had put in all my savings from Titan into my business and a couple of initial projects helped us sustain for the first year.
Tell us about your present clients.
We are designing new ultra luxury watch collection for Titan, which celebrates inspirations from Heritage India. The launch is scheduled in September. This collection will redefine true Indian luxury market. For HUL, we are working on many water purifier projects and in the next 1-2 months the products will hit the market. As CVC(Creative Venture Capitalist) we are currently working with 3-4 start ups. We would be retailing our own collection of products from the five star hotel stores by Diwali. This will give us good a opportunity to inch towards creating true Indian Luxury brand for home accessories.
What is your revenue model?
Today 70% of our revenue comes from design services for larger brands, but we are aware that scaling up business of design services is tough because of lack of quality resources; hence we will focus equally on our product portfolio with better distribution, institutional orders and participation in International trade fairs for international export orders. We would like to make Studio ABD as India’s first design brand and Mubhi as first Indian’s Luxury brand . We believe our CVC program will start paying us back in next 1-2 years through royalties which will be enough for us to be choosy about projects we take up and make sure the design impact from Studio ABD is superlative.
Let us know about partnerships that helped you scale?
The innovation company ‘Autumn Leaves’ and Studio ABD are strategic partners, and collectively we have done amazing innovation work for brands like LG, Cocacola, HUL, RB, Ford etc. Our unique program has seen pioneering work in the field of new product innovation with ready design solutions. Brand Anthem, a Delhi based branding and PR agency represents Stduio ABD in Delhi –NCR region for new business development. They also manage our PR activities. Celcius 100, a marketing company in Bangalore tied up with Studio ABD from time to time to offer holistic branding plus product design solution for brands. These tie ups have helped us grow and still focus on our core competency ‘ Design’.
Are you looking at raising funds?
Yes, we will be happy to raise funds for scaling up our luxury brand.
Share with us your experience of winning at YCE.
It is an incredible feeling that we are chosen for Young Creative Award in Design category. We are just a 3 year old company with passion to make Indian Design mark on international platform. Winning at YCE is a true appreciation of our efforts in making Design as core of all good businesses and good human experiences. As compared to other awards where the award ceremony is the final destination, at YCE, it is the beginning of new interactions, opportunities, tie ups and understanding. We would like to thank British council for this recognition and opportunity, and we will use this platform to share the changes Indian creative Industry is going through, with the rest of the world and bring back new experiences which would impact our industry and quality of life of our people.
Do visit their website for more details http://www.studioabd.in/