How Mumbai-based Design Desk helps brands create an impression through exhibitions

Succeeding in an unorganised market with the help of an organised effort is something worth taking note of, and Design Desk has managed to do that successfully. Find out how the Mumbai-based startup managed to achieve an early growth pattern.
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Exhibitions offer great opportunities for brands to connect with prospective customers and market their products and services. While these events allow customers to understand the need for specific products hands-on, they also help brands receive feedback directly.

And in order to enhance the experience of customers at these exhibitions, there are numerous agencies that work hard behind the scenes. Since its inception in 2005, Design Desk has been providing solutions to make exhibitions more interactive. Owned and co-founded by siblings Rohit Saraogi and Amit Saraogi, the Mumbai-based company specialises in exhibition design solutions for corporates and SMEs.

Origin of a design company

While Rohit has an MBA in Marketing from MICA Ahmedabad, Amit holds a Diploma in interior designing. Having grown up in and around the exhibition design industry, they knew what they needed to start off a successful company. With their skillsets in marketing and interior designing, they started a partnership that combined their talents in a fast-growing industry.

“Amit and I brought two complimenting competencies together, and then we got this opportunity in exhibitions. At that time, the scale of exhibitions was much smaller than it is today, so we found a unique opportunity over there. Realising there were very few professional service providers who were focusing on this field, we decided to take advantage of it,” says Rohit.

Looking back, the duo says they had a very early growth pattern. “Pre-pandemic we were at a strength of 45 people, and we have seen a steady YoY revenue growth as well. So, I can say that we have been fairly successful in that regard,” adds Rohit.

Currently, Design Desk boasts of a clientele that includes brands like Reliance, Aditya Birla Group, Mitsubishi Electric, Swarovski, Raychem RPG, etc.

Designing their way to success

Rohit says that apart from unique designs and consistent delivery, their USP lies in their ethos and the way they function as an agency. He says, “Exhibitions & events are always deadline oriented & the industry is known for being chaotic & full of last minute surprises. This is where we stand out with our approach. . At Design Desk, we practice a process-oriented & pro-active culture to ensure a smooth working experience for our customers.”

Whenever a company participates in an exhibition, they hire a space where they are visible to their customers as well as competitors. That’s where Design Desk excels, by helping companies design their exhibition space to create a lasting impression as well as make good use of their space. This helps the companies meet their marketing objectives at exhibitions around the world.

“We are always very consistent in what we promise and what we deliver. That has been very vital for our growth and customers have enough trust in us to come back year after year,” says Rohit.

Talking about their online presence, the co-founder and CEO says that they were clear about the importance of having a proper web presence from day one. “It was of vital importance for us to attract new clients. And not just having a good website, we were also early adopters of Google Ads and Search Engine Optimizations, so that our customers could find us easily, and get a first impression on the website itself,” he says.

He adds that customers are warm to responses when they go online and are looking for solutions, and they have always focused on creating a good impression on their clients at that point in time.

Designed for the Indian audience

Initially, the company came up with a domain called design-desk.net but later realised that it was difficult to convey it to customers. Rohit says that’s when they opted for the .in domain because it sounded credible and crisp. “After all, it also gives the feel to a brand that it has originated in India, so we found it very easy to migrate to the .in domain,” he adds.

Talking about how the .in domain has aided in the growth of the company, Rohit says that Design Desk has a very good international exposure as they take Indian companies to international exhibitions. He adds that they also have a number of international clients when they come to India, so their website works well to introduce them to potential partners. “The .in domain tells them that we are an Indian company and that we have a proper domain address. So, the domain has definitely supported us in the right picture,” Rohit says.

Just like Design Desk, there are several Indian companies that have benefited greatly from the .in domain. While it gives brands an Indian identity, it also helps them cater to the Indian audience and helps them make their mark in the online space. And thanks to the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), the .in and .Bharat domains have been made easily available in 22 Indian languages. This initiative by NIXI has helped indigenous brands in the country grow their businesses exponentially.

Challenges and future plans

Rohit says that the biggest roadblock for Design Desk has always been their nature of work because of its unorganised area of the market. “Finding suitable people, processes and companies from which we can benchmark and pick up best practices have always been a challenge. So we have to always chart our own way out, train our own people and move forward,” he says.

Moving forward, Rohit says that they help identify and help companies present themselves better in 3D spaces. “Recently, we have also launched a vertical called VirtuLab, under which we are creating 3D virtual showrooms. So, with the help of this vertical, we are helping brands present themselves in 3D spaces but in a virtual world. So that is something new that we have added to our existing services,” he says.

The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.


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