Yet another father-daughter team shows how repainting can be a dustless affair

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So many people would have watched the live release of the Apple iWatch with bated breath, wondering what it looked like, what it could accomplish. Many more follow the unveiling of various gadgets on a day to day basis, constantly wondering how much farther we could go to create products that will amaze or surprise us. As for me, I think the magic of innovation lies in its application in extremely mundane processes or products – especially those we see, hear, touch and feel on daily. It takes a whole other level of creative thinking to turn something we know so well, say a spoon, into possibly a smart device that could measure your calorie intake and give suggestions on what to eat to improve your health.

Which is why, my chat with Niyati Ingale of Dustless Painting was extremely enjoyable. She and her father have managed to take the ‘pain out of painting’ (their words, not mine) by making it a completely dustless procedure.

Tinkerers to founders

Niyati’s father, Atul Ingale, is an electrical engineering graduate of VJTI (’83). Always a topper, Atul was extremely passionate about engineering and wanted to create something that could benefit people. The idea of being an entrepreneur was constantly at the back of his mind even during his stints at various firms in the Middle and Far East, including one in Saudi Arabia.

In 1995, the family bought a house in Thane (Mumbai). While re-doing the house, Atul’s children (10 and two years old respectively) fell sick during the sanding process. Also, the family could not continue their daily activities during the painting because of the surrounding dust and paint residue in various places.

As the family’s designated ideator, Atul took a crack at creating a scrubbing machine with dust control. He made his own machine after a series of failures and later discovered it's not financial feasible to produce and go for patents. Nonetheless, the issue kept bothering him all the way till 2013. He had already seen close family and friends facing the same problem.

Atul began to research dustless sanding technology and even bought a few machines. For about eight months, he experimented with different type of sanders and suction to get the desired torque and suction pressure. After all, if a machine was too hard, it could crack the wall and if it did not have the required power, it wouldn’t be able to scrape off the surface of a wall. In 2014, he found a brand that matched his expectations and told his daughter about it.

At that time, Niyati was working with CNBC and realized that the duo would have to conduct research on the need for a product like theirs before venturing into the market. Besides a company in Chennai, no one else was offering dustless painting services. Both father and daughter decided to take the concept further and established a company in late 2014. They approached various architects, designers, interior decorators and design firms. They also sold samples to potential clients and created a demo video to explain their product.

Getting the big break

A few big architects and interior designers saw the demo and Dustless Painting found its first few clients. They are now in the process of working with top MNCs in the pharma and FMCG sector. The venture has completed close to three projects in each vertical. Niyati states that the standards of cleanliness in healthcare are so high that after completing a project successfully in that space, the firm can work anywhere. In fact, one of their projects involved repainting a room while an operation took place.

Dustless Painting offers end to end services. Their team leaves the house exactly in the same state as it was before the painting. They ensure that customers don’t feel any inconvenience while going about each stage of interior painting. The employees are skilled at covering and masking premises during painting and there is a separate team working towards maintaining cleanliness at all times.

Challenges and the road ahead

Educating Indian customers was a slow and tedious process. Given that the phenomenon was relatively new in the Indian market, the father-daughter duo had their work cut out trying to explain why their services commanded higher charges. The painting space was rather disorganized and had no standardization. The Dustless Painting team encountered contractors who only cared about getting the job done. That’s when the founders realized that they could not be pitted against the usual painting services, Dustless Painting was a whole new product with a completely different modus operandi. They not only cared about the end-product but also about the why and the how of the process. Not disturbing families while they continued their everyday activities, not letting customers get affected even while they eat at their favourite restaurants – these factors mattered to the founders.

After this change of mindset, convincing customers became easier. Both father and daughter highlighted the advantages of Dustless Painting and the attention to detail that the team brought to the procedure right from how much pressure the employee puts on the brush, the quality of paint to the careful use of the machines.

Niyati believes that the level of professionalism Dustless Painting is bringing to the space is helping them win more clients. Ideally, the venture would like to partner with various architecture firms, pharmaceutical companies, and commercial builders to bring their services to the right set of clients. At the moment, the startup is focusing on jobs in Mumbai, they are hoping to expand to the metro cities in the next five years. A decade down the line, they plan to go global, transforming the way painting is perceived, one house at a time.

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