How Ajay Batra built a premium stationery materials company myPAPERCLIP with an old printing machineAparna Ghosh
When a hardcore stationery fan walks into any of the fancy Moleskine stores across the world, his only other thought besides the urge to buy everything is probably “I wish it were cheaper!”
Ajay Batra was a fan, yes, but he did something a little differently.
This chartered account with over 20 years experience, who loved buying notepads and memo books from stationery stores during his trips abroad, had an epiphany. He realised that spending in foreign currency was a waste when he could manufacture the same kind of products for more affordable prices in India.
“My family owned a printing unit in Delhi with which we did digital processing. We wanted to expand our offering and create our own range of products. And from my travels, I knew that there was a huge gap in the affordable premium stationery market,” he said.
Ajay had successfully launched and sold off a previous venture in the IT skills training during the late 90’s, and this was his second startup. He set up a manufacturing unit in the Okhla industrial area in South Delhi, and launched myPAPERCLIP in October 2013.
“My initial survey suggested that stationery companies do not see good economics in this segment, and so shy away. So I took up the challenge and myPAPERCLIP was born,” says Ajay.
Ever since, the company has been producing journals, notepads, diaries, memo books, custom notebooks etc. They use ecofriendly, hand-crafted paper to make their stationery.
Their two signature products, MEMO BOOK, and the Executive Series, come in various sizes and colors. They even have limited editions books for every season. The cost of their collection ranges between Rs 95 and 595.
“Our limited editions come out once in every season - winter, spring, summer and fall - with color tones that are fashionable in that season. For Winter 2014, our cover for the book was woolen blue called Boutique…So Wool Blue Jersey,” says Ajay.
Within the first year of launch, myPAPERCLIP is now available in over 100 retail stores across the country, including Sapna Book House, Om Book Shop, William Penn, Crossword and StarMark. It is also available online on Amazon.in.
“We don’t currently have an online e-commerce set up. We are getting ready to set up our online selling portal soon, and also convert enquires from countries like Dubai and Japan, so we can ship our products to these locations,” added Ajay.
According to a recent market report on the books, news and stationery industry, revenues are projected to hit Rs 81,300 crores, and grow at a CAGR of 8.92 percent by the end of 2019.
Owing to the unavailability of high-end stationery material at affordable prices, competition has not been the startup’s biggest hurdles. The only other brands available in this segment in India are BILT (Matrix), RubberBand, and LetterNote on one end, and Moleskine on the other end.
This bootstrapped company has sold around 100,000 units, worth Rs 2 crores, in less than a year, and is expecting a lot more in the coming years.
“If I make sure international quality is available at Indian prices, fans like me will automatically love it,” adds Ajay.