Rajat Khandelwal, Founder at ArtzFolio
Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Rajat Khandelwal: One day in 2015, Rajat Khandelwal, Founder of ArtzFolio, wanted to gift something to his wife. He searched everywhere online but could not select anything and did not want to go to offline markets. So, he decided to create a digital photo collage himself and got it printed on canvas and framed it - thus he got an idea of personalized photo gifts and digital printed artworks. So was born ArtzFolio.com.
We entered the market & launched our brand store in 2016 with the concept of selling personalized gifts and digitally printed artwork. We started with selling personalized collages and framed paper posters, and gradually expanded to multiple art categories such as canvas prints, vinyl stickers, wallpapers, and framed paintings. We started getting requests from our regular buyers about customization in terms of frame colours, art sizes, and designs. This gave us an idea of offering a 100% customization option on our products. We received unexpected sales and positive feedbacks on our new offerings.
As we grew, people started asking queries about getting our best-selling designs on furnishings such as cushions and curtains. At that time, we had to deny. But as the interest grew, we started working on new categories of home decor, office & stationery, and lifestyle products. We launched a complete range of fabric-based products ranging from pillow cases to table covers, pouffes to storage bins, as well as stoles, scarves, and bandanas.
In all our product categories, we offer variety + customization + quality + affordability + time delivery. Now, we do millions of designs with print on demand in over 50 categories and with 100% customization option is what makes us a unique business. We conceptualize, craft, and create mesmerizing artworks, daily essentials & consumer goods, luxurious household products, stationery & office products, bulk corporate gifts, and promotional & marketing materials. We procure all our raw materials from within India - 100% indigenous, and hence supporting the Made in India initiative.
Great Companies: What are the various Services provided by ArtzFolio?
Rajat Khandelwal: ArtzFolio is India's only custom products brand for home, office, and lifestyle, offering millions of designs in over 50 product categories. We offer one-stop, all-features customization in our collection of over 6 million products for individuals, businesses, and gifting, solving the problems of limited designs, basic styles, restricted sizes, and few colour options.
We procurement all our raw materials from within India - 100% indigenous, and hence supporting the Made in India initiative. We conceptualize, craft, and create mesmerizing artworks, daily essentials & consumer goods, luxurious household products, stationery & office products, bulk corporate gifts, and promotional & marketing materials.
Our ever-growing list of over 600 clients includes individual art collectors, private offices, hotels & restaurants, art galleries, interior decorators & architects, builders & construction companies, corporate & business houses, buying agents, and online startups.
Great Companies: What makes ArtzFolio different from hundreds of other similar service providers?
We do things like no one does. We add creativity & personalization to everything we do. As our tag statement says - CUSTOM MADE. GET WHAT YOU WISH. ZERO WASTE. We are your bespoke assistant for home, office & lifestyle products.
Beyond a fixed ready-made collection of products, we offer our buyer what they wish to have with end-to-end customization. For instance, if you visited our competitors for buying cushions, there are high chances that they might be selling cushion in standard set of 2 or 5 with limited 3-4 standard sizes with one or two fabrics options. Whereas, when you visit us, you will get exquisite gallery of over a million of designs, you can get it printed on your cushion covers with four standard sizes and any other size you wish to be custom-made for you. Available in multiple fabrics that is cotton canvas, satin, velvet, silk & many more. We sell cushion covers in standard set of 2, 4, 6 or even single, with or without filler option is also available.
Let’s take another example of a curtain. Curtains are usually available in height of 7 and 9 feet in both offline and online space. But what if you wish to buy a short curtain for your window, what if you want the curtain to cover the extra space above the door, what if you want to customize the design. You got nowhere to go except the option of buying a fabric, getting the measurements at your home, and then going to a tailor to stitch. Neither the price nor the final fabrication will be what you want. Here we at ArtzFolio address all these issues.
Apart from all these standard product options available across all our products, we provide even beyond our product catalog with bespoke print-on-demand with never ending possibilities. We ideate your thoughts and turn them to reality. Being an end-to-end manufacturer, we assure the highest product standards with bespoke & tailored product solution in every aspect, right from the concept to final output.
Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?
Rajat Khandelwal: Managing operations is challenging, especially in the ecommerce space. We have to track of all the new industry developments as it changes faster than you know of. Syncing your inventory across multiple sales channels is another key task. Getting sales is still easy with a good marketing strategy, but customer retention and controlling order returns is always the priority for us. As the business expands to tier-3 cities and small towns, a lot of buyer’s place cash-on-delivery orders which increases courier returns.
Another challenge is finding the right hires to keep up with the growth and expansion. There are certain seasons where you would be requiring a bigger team but training people for a short time period isn’t possible and there is no way you get to hire the best ones for a short stint.
COVID-19 and the lockdowns were not easy for a startup like ours to survive. But we defeated it and came out stronger than ever before. We struggled as we were completely shut down during Covid but managed to thrive without any layoffs and in fact started post lockdowns, with new product categories and business segments.
Things started looking up when homes turned into offices, schools, and gyms, and people wanted to redo their spaces. Our offering of customizing our products in every way possible is the key differentiation which played a crucial role in our growth journey post Covid.
Post pandemic, people paid more attention to home improvements and home renovation as their drawing rooms, study, and bedrooms turned into new office space. Virtual meets have become the new normal, hence the ambience and interiors have gained attention. With the increasing roles of our home as a workspace, the need for artwork and home furnishing has increased.
We have seen over 400% increase in our sales of our hero product category – multipurpose pinup board cum wall art. The demand was in particular from people working from home and looking to customize notice boards for their study tables and meeting rooms.
Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for ArtzFolio?
Rajat Khandelwal: We are planning to grow and expand our sales channel to include more marketplaces, offline trade, B2B/corporate, and exports. We are working towards licensed merchandise from Disney, Marvel, Harry Porter, Peppa Pig, and more for various product categories.
Our art segment is what makes us unique and to add to it we will be soon launching art renting services in India. Art rental services have proved the best way for art lovers, businesses, and décor enthusiasts to have a new artwork up their walls. We are also expanding our print-on-demand fulfillment services with white labeling of products for our clients, as well as expanding to corporate gifting segment.
For our 5-year goal - We are hustling and growing to build ArtzFolio as the world's largest one-stop custom product brand for home, kitchen, office, & lifestyle categories.
Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Rajat Khandelwal: The most important thing for a startup is to build a network of people. Surround yourself with people better than you, they would help you scale the business faster than you dream of. The reason founders make good decisions is because they learn from others. It is their ability to learn that makes them take decisions to build great companies.
When you are a small company, things are run personally. But when you run a large company, you have to become structured. Focus on building a something which would be in demand for the long run, and not something temporarily required due to some season or unprecedented situations. Aiming to solve the real problems one faces in their daily lives is the only way to build a large scale and long-term business.