Dreamers are achievers. This three-word quote comes with a deeper meaning than what appears. Not every day we cross paths with people having a contagious spirit and spellbinding aura. It takes a lot of courage to leave the comfort of a set job and switch to something entirely new knowing one could fail miserably. However, it’s the balance of logic and emotion that leads a person to his judgement.
Pankaj Maloo, an entrepreneur from Kolkata, knew this from the very beginning. With vision in eyes, he always aimed for the stars. This Bikaner boy was born into a middle class family with father in construction business. He had someone to inspire him to get into business line, but there was not enough money that he could invest to establish his own business, all he had was dreams. He had to prove to himself that he was capable enough to have a sharp imagination and manifest it too.
Pankaj completed his schooling from Shree Jain Vidyalaya, in 1996, and then went to Bhawanipur Education Society College, from where he graduated in commerce in 1999. When he was still in school in 1995, he joined a Chartered Accountant firm and worked there as a trainee. He earned a stipend of Rs 300 which was sufficient to take care of his daily expenses that time. He oscillated between school and job and had a knack to learn something new every day. With his undying spirit, he knew something big awaited him. All he had to do was put in hard work and effort in order to reach there.
He qualified as a chartered accountant in 2002 and joined a private firm as a CA next year. His monthly salary was Rs 12,500 but it couldn’t hold him for more than 12 months.
After this he started his own CA firm in 2004, but he realised early on that this wasn’t the profession he wanted to be in. Thus, he quit to look for a new profession which captured his interest and also honed his skills. While he was still brainstorming, he realised how this era of digitalisation was amplifying and that e-commerce was totally shaping up the market. He took this as a good opportunity and decided to encash it.
“With the penetration of internet the world was becoming small and outsourcing was picking up. I always had a knack for creativity and designing. Though, I myself cannot design, but I understand this subject very well. It was then when I decided to start offering logo designing services to international clients. My passion turned into profession,” he tells KenFolios.
Pankaj recalls how, in his younger days, he was an ardent observer of advertisements, company logos, billboards, and hoardings. This left a deep impact on him and when he grew up. He could perceive that it was a growing business which was soon to go global; and adding a penny to it could bring him multifolds in return.
Pankaj already had the experience of running a business and he had great people skills. Although, he didn’t work in the technical field, he knew how to guide people and pursue them to do what they were best at.
Later, he along with co-founder Nitesh Thapa he laid the foundation of Kreative Fingers, in 2005. It wasn’t an easy task. Quitting his last firm had left him shaken up and his confidence. But the thought of another start-up empowered him, especially when he knew it was something that could meet the demands of his innate child.
Getting in the business of designing meant exploring a whole new horizon and subjecting himself to a vast competitive field which had great room for opportunities, but back in 2005 very few were pursuing it. This meant he had to follow his intuition and take the leap.
“Reasonable rates and good quality of work helped us clinch more orders,” says Pankaj, “and soon, we started growing.”
The strategy was planned out but the bump on the road was arranging funds. He didn’t have enough savings to get into the business, and that was when his friends came in picture. They helped him out their bit and ensured that Pankaj could at least give the business a try.
“My first computer was supplied on credit by one my friend, and initial rent-free office space of 8×6 feet was provided by another pal. That’s how the journey of Kreative Fingers started,” he says, getting a little emotional.
He knew he might need a little helping hand while setting up the business so he partnered. He would take care of the client servicing and marketing and cofounder Nitesh took care of designing. Gradually, as the business started picking up they started hiring. As they proceeded in the service industry with experience, they had more clients in their list. Soon, they started covering wider dimensions and expanded their business and added clients from many countries.
“We are into service industry. We provide branding and corporate identity solutions for the businesses. Our specialization is in logo designing, corporate identity, brand communication, packaging, advertisements, website design and development of internet marketing like social media,” Pankaj briefs us about his services.
Based out of Kolkata as their only branch, Pankaj did diverse marketing for Kreative Fingers and would stay awake all night in hope of getting a customer. The journey began when he got his first order for $10 with the task of designing banners. His company started growing after the clients realised they received quality products at a reasonable price.
Owing to their business ethics, in 2006 Pankaj had a breakthrough. He acquired a client from Australia who outsourced services from Kreative Fingers to other firms in Australia which meant increased profit. The orders hiked to 8-10 per day and the invoice rose to $10,000-$12000 per month. Kreative Fingers achieved a turnover of Rs 4 lakh in the first year, 2005-06, and built up a client base of almost 100
The first thing that Pankaj did after as his business picked up was getting a proper office: a 600 sq ft space at Ekbalpore, for a modest rent of Rs 4,000. In 2007, Pankaj shifted to a bigger office of 1600 sqft at Tollygunge, at a monthly rent of Rs 15,000.
However, as the business was running smooth they had a hiccup when the great recession of 2009 came. The impact it had was so strong that it shook the foundations of Kreative Fingers. The cost of manpower was still alive but the sales had reduced. Surviving the recession was tough and the company recuperated its long lasting effects for two long years.
Then, as his business expanded, in February 2009 his brother Pramod Maloo, an MBA, joined the company and they launched their new wing, Kreative Machinez, a new firm that focused exclusively on digital marketing through social media platforms.
KreativeMachinez is a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) firm and together with Kreative Fingers, their turnover reached Rs 4 crore. They have now purchased their own office – a 2,500 sqft space in Bhowanipore.
“We started as B2C company where in we were focusing more on designing logos for End users, but then slowly we understood that this is a pain point and graphic design companies do need reliable partners whom they can work with and expand their Business. They want someone who can provide high quality service and fast turnaround.” Pankaj adds.
Today, with his established business, Pankaj is guiding budding entrepreneurs and believes that hard work followed by consistency can get us anywhere.