Today’s story is about Neel Kirankumar Panchal founder of Pratham Notebook from Ahmedabad. While having conversation with him we came across many interesting things and we thought to share them with you all. Here is what we think you should know about this young entrepreneur and his start up.
What do you do for a living?
I connect with people, analyze the demands, and create products.
Some details of your business.
Pratham is a students’ start-up model supported by Govt. of Gujarat. We design and manufacture premium quality youth-oriented notebooks and provide them directly to students at an affordable price. Pratham envisions empowering students. Hence, we actively involve students from schools and universities to dynamically perform various operations of the start-up. We enroll undergraduate students as coordinators, core committee members, and campus ambassadors and provide them sufficient training, incentive, and a chance to hone their interpersonal skills.
Our products include advertisements from educational institutes and establishing brands from in and around the city. The funds received from advertising helps in minimizing the cost of the notebook.
What motivated/ inspired you to come into this business? Share one of the moment.
My conscience always motivated me to take up entrepreneurship. The one thriving moment where I saw the need to step up with my skills was in college. Being a student I knew the issues we faced with a lack of quality stationery products at affordable prices. On top of that my broader motivation has always been to create an impact on the lives of the students. With a leap of faith in my skills and ability to work, I stepped in on my first organized venture, but careful enough to take one step at a time.
How did you get into this business?
Notebooks are the most used products in schools and colleges. I knew that premium products were not affordable. I decided to study the stationary scenario and market. And after market research and meeting manufacturers I understood that the stationery sector was overpriced. There’s a deficiency of good quality when a student takes a cost-effective approach to his needs.
I made a team and we started ideating about breaking the tradition of monotonous notebooks. We wanted to create a premium quality notebook that was affordable to students and was exciting at the same time. The first edition of Pratham Notebook (5000) was sold in a record time of 14 days. People liked the product and enquired about the next edition. Not only did we sold the notebooks but also made a profit from our minimum margin.
How has been your journey? Something about your struggles and achievement.
Every time in life whenever individuals make a transition from one stream to another difficulties are inevitable. Mine was no different. I have been great at academics since school. I had bright opportunities in Mechanical Engineering with a comprehensive experience of interning at a thermal power station, Jyoti CNC (Rajkot), and with Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Bangalore.
My struggle was not leaving things behind and commencing a startup. It was about explaining and convincing my parents that I am leaving behind some good things to achieve the best.
I believed in my abilities to work, but I also knew I will need a reliable team. Finding the right teammates and convincing them to join was a tough task. Little did I know that I did not wanted to create a product which cannot add value in the lives of people but at the same time I could not even afford to pay to expert.
As far as achievements are concerned we have sold notebooks beyond our imagination. And not only that, we also won the hearts and trust of advertisers who put their faith in our values and vision.
Even though we had a fabulous start, I have seen times when the company could not generate revenue of a single rupee in the entire month. Still, everyone who worked for Pratham was constantly learning and with this satisfaction, I could work hard every single day.
Something that you like and dislike about this business?
The most dynamic age group to work with is with people in the age bar 16-25 i.e. students. Youth is the future of any field. I am glad we could design a startup model that is for the youth and by the youth. The interaction with students, understanding their issues, and making the most of my abilities to resolve them is what I like about my business.
We are still a micro-scale startup model. We receive many applications every month but it is not possible for us to involve everyone in our community. There are tons of reasons for that. Sometimes there are some interns we have to drop due to a shortage of work in a specific area. And I feel unsatisfied that we could not provide value-based learning for them.
What is the future of this business?
We are strategically expanding our range of products. We are investing our time and efforts in innovative ideas that can contribute to decreasing the cost of education. Above all, we intend to provide empowerment to a larger group of students along with practical experience and work exposure.
What are your future goals for your firm / Company / Brand
We are gradually expanding the scale of our operations. In the upcoming years, we are planning to widen our distribution network and make a national presence with our products. In addition to that, we are soon launching a community platform with the aim to make the students industry-ready. The community will not only help students in learning new techniques and skills but will be a platform to interact with likeminded people.
How many are there in your team? What is best about them you feel?
I am glad to have a team that is conscious about their personal growth and wants to do something for the student fraternity. The team members are equal contributors to my vision of bringing a change in the society. The spirit, strength, and soul of Pratham, is undoubtedly its team.
We started with a team of 6; today we are a team of 500+ working dynamically to achieve our goals.
What is that one principle that you work with? (if you have more you can mention them too)
i) I have read it and I firmly believe that NETWORK = NET WORTH
Most of our business operations rely on networking. At least 60% of the execution is done by the networking capabilities of our team. This makes our work easier and much faster.
ii) Respect people and do not judge them.
Everyone works according to their potential and capacity. There is always something to learn from everyone. So not to judge anyone and respecting everyone will help in creating a better culture at the organisation.
Something that you have learned in your journey, which can be useful as a tip to the audience.
The one essential thing that I have learned is that nothing is impossible to achieve. We can achieve what others have. We need to find the right direction for it and be prepared to work for it. One must be ready to adopt new things and be curious to grab opportunities.
Be open to learning. I am glad to share the working space with a team of excellent communicators, marketers, writers, and others who deliver their best in the tasks and learn from each other.
Your take on – MAKE IN INDIA. Is this useful to your business? If yes, how?
Make in India is the need of the time. We often hear that the world is looking forward to what India does. This is because we have a gigantic market for almost every product. Despite having such consumptions and requirements we are still relying on imports for many inevitable products/commodities.
Make in India is a platform to address the demands of our population by making it in India. Therefore, the need of the time for us is to do what it takes to make it in India.
Our startup model is supported by SSIP which is a Govt of Gujarat initiative. Under Make in India, there are tax benefits, subsidies, and even loans available with minimum interest rates.
Last but not the least – Some small /big tips which you would like to tell to the audience?
- We are the products of the people we are surrounded with. So choose wisely the time you spend with people because you are going to be just like them. Hangout with individuals, who want to achieve things in life.
- Mentors are crucial and inevitable whenever you are going to start something new. You must have complete faith in them and their abilities. Find mentors who can help you with the experience they have earned over the years.
- There is more to life than money. Long term goals are important, so do not neglect them for your short term needs.
- When in a conversation, do not raise your voice but raise the quality of your arguments.
- Read books, watch constructive content, and avoid distractions.
There is so much to take from this guy , he truely is our young Gujpreneur in all the essence. He motivates, brings the change and even inspire people. Subscribe and follow to hear more such inspiring stories.