Home Is Where The Heart Is, for The Starting Monday

Pratish Mepani

He likes to call himself a local boy, who came back home after seeing the world. Pratish Mepani, founder, The Starting Monday(SMD+B), a design and branding firm in Mumbai has always been in love with the Maximum City. Before turning entrepreneur, Pratish had stints with music label Universal Music, Tips Industries as well as with other advertising and branding firms. His decision to startup came when he decided to make a difference in the area of design and branding, by combining his learnings from the international market and sensitivities of the local culture. “While working with larger design firms, I was exposed to the different work culture that exists in the international market and how different it was from Indian firms. I thought I could make a difference with that knowledge and experience and apply it here,” says Pratish about his decision to startup.

Started in June 2011, (SMD+B) is a team of five people who come from diverse backgrounds. While all of them are creatively inclined, the team is a mix of people who understand technology and can handle the UI/UX of a business, they have a fashion designer in the team and even someone with 23 years of work experience. “When we sit on the lunch table, we have often joked that our team is mini representation of India. We have people from different parts of the country,” laughs Pratish. This diversity of talent has also been instrumental in providing variety to clients in the work they do, says Pratish.

They have seven regular clients whom they service, besides other clients whom they have handled on a project basis. Some of their notable work has been for Cotton Association of India, Le 15 Patisserie, Oye Punjabi, Anita Dongre and Trident Hotels. The firm has helped these clients get a new visual identity, fresh design for different aspects of their business, as well as develop their corporate identity.

The firm is already profitable and most of the business they have got so far is through word-of-mouth. Pratish is both happy and not so happy about this fact. “Its good to know that your work is recognized and recommended. But that also means we are not preparing for battle. We haven’t pitched yet and therefore most of what we are doing is reactive, but going forward we want to make sure we goto the market, do our homework, talk around and convince clients to take us on,” says Pratish.

While most of his work maybe cutting and new edge, Pratish is a believer of many things old school. He says he wants to build a team that is stable, who don’t just love their jobs but also have a sense of belonging to (SMD+B). One of his ways of providing this stability is in the form of their office space. Pratish has bought the office, instead of leasing it because he says it’s a form of saying “we are not going anywhere from here.”

We quiz him, how good a strategy is being just a design firm in this day and age of 360-degree communication firms. But Pratish is unperturbed by the noise around. “It is good to be able to do all TV, print, art direction everything. But then that is the work of generalists and there will be many of that kind. The Starting Monday cannot be generalized, we want to be the best in what we do. So we are open to helping client with all their communication needs, but we want to make sure our signature style remains intact,” says Pratish.



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