lifeandmore.in in conversation with interior designer Ashish Dhingra, founder of Marksdzyn.
How tough was the decision to leave a private banking job in Singapore and jump into business?
The decision was easy, though it took some time to convince my family. I was working as a private banker with ANZ bank in Singapore, and had been with banking industry for over nine years. However, owing to my graduation from School of Planning & Architecture, I always had a keen interest in interior designs and construction industry. This was a fast growing business segment, and I could see many business possibilities. Technology and Internet were changing the business dynamics and it wasn’t that the same would apply to design and construction as well. There was (and still is) a need to provide design and construction through an affordable, transparent and system driven platform. I wanted to use Internet, digitization, technology and of course good talent, to create that platform. For me even if I am 50 per cent sure I go for the challenge. Here I was much more than 50 per cent, so the decision was really easy. And then I could not live with the regret and not doing it!
Is yours a business family or of professionals? Please tell us more about your parents and family in detail.
I belong to a family of professionals. My father is an engineering graduate from IIT Roorkee and my mother is a fashion designer. While my sister is heading Human Resources at BMW India, my wife has her own clothing brand for Western wear with stores in Delhi/NCR. In our family, free will and free thinking has always been encouraged.
How was the decision taken by your family?
It took a while for my wife to be convinced about what I was thinking. So for us the challenge was more in terms of leaving Singapore, which is a beautiful city, and moving back to Delhi and adjusting again. Of course there was anxiety and we had to plan for various things such as kids’ school admission, housing, etc. However, in terms of a career move or rather a move towards doing what I really wanted to do, I got all the support from my wife and family, for which I am always grateful. I really believe that once you set your mind on something and believe in it with your full heart then everything starts falling into place.
Your start off prices are really low – Rs 5000 per room. How do you manage doing it?
We have experienced and researched that clients often have a reservation to hire a designer as they perceive the architecture and design cost to be substantially steep. At the same time, they do not want to hire a local contractor as it can lead to a lot of personal involvement for the customer. A low design cost removes that hesitation, of hiring a design firm. Further, customers find it better if pricing is stated upfront and is displayed, quite like a price card as that brings forth transparency, which is very important for us.
The idea is to make interior design services available to all. We are using a lot of technology and standardization of processes and systems to bring our cost down; at the same time, ensuring that customer gets the best of creative talent and designs. The current price structure is not profit driven rather it is based on quality service delivery. We offer the customer a wide range of interior services such as modular kitchen, modular storage, on site construction which a customer can choose from once they hire us. We ensure that superior quality is delivered for every process and are building a strong word of mouth community.
Please explain your work process. If I ask for your company’s services for doing up my living room, how does it work? Is there a registration fees? How much time does it take for work to finish? How are the financial terms and conditions worked upon?
Work process is simple. You hire us for say a living room, so we start with a meeting with our designer. A designer sends you a customized powerpoint presentation with design ideas, and a basic estimate of the budget. Here you can ask clarify all your queries and if you are satisfied we proceed with your signing up Marksdzyn for a design service. There is no registration fee. We do our first meeting and design presentation free of cost. Once you sign up Marksdzyn, there will be a per room charge as per the design package – which has to be paid up front.
Design process normally takes up to seven days for a project of this size (a single room). We offer unlimited revisions. Once the design is finalized, you have a choice of hiring MarksDzyn for Construction Services. We will prepare a BOQ (quotation) for a charge of Rs 1000/ per room (which is adjusted if construction service is hired).
Construction service once hired, require an advance payment of 35%. Here we also facilitate banking/financial loans with our tie-up with banking channels. The payment terms are standard, and documented.
How do you intend to reach the masses: advertising, online presence or word-of-mouth publicity?
We plan to reach the masses through all three means – advertising, online presence and word of mouth publicity. We have already done over 300 projects since 2012, which has helped us build a very strong operational and human resource base. We are very confident of our delivery and work standards. At this juncture, we are allocating most resources on digital marketing and digital presence. We are extremely sure that we will be able to generate a very strong word of mouth in a very near term.
Share a few experiences of people who have availed of your organisation’s services?
We have just completed a home interior project in Vasant Kunj Area in South Delhi. The client had recently purchased a house and wanted interior design and construction. They very easily signed up with us as they found our design packages very attractive. The signing took place in the 3rd meeting – which was in line with our expectation for a full home interior project. The client is an IT consultant and mostly travels out of India, and was very appreciative of our pricing algorithm and construction operations and systems. We finalized the designs in three weeks. The construction schedule was planned for 60 days and was completed before time in 55 days. I met the customer personally a few times during the course of the project and I was quite satisfied in the way our team managed the project.
Also, we recently did another project for a much awarded and celebrated fashion designer Anju Modi, for her retail venture in Hyderabad. The project was extensively featured in the local dailies and the client was extremely appreciative of our work process and delivery. I was closely involved in this project and I am very proud that MarksDzyn did the project in a record time with a great interior delivered. We often get calls from umpteen people who visit the showroom asking for our details (word of mouth!).
What is common to these projects is that we are building relationships with these customers. We always try to deliver more than what is expected of us.