Despite the fact that 2008 was impacted by a slowdown, Noufel and his business partner and friend, Shibu saw there was still a huge scope in the market for image editing. "Since things weren't going so well with our last employer, we both were on the lookout for a job," said the directors, recalling the story of Bengaluru-based Honeycomb Creative Support.
What made them decide that the image-editing market could actually accommodate them? "We conducted some surveys before we began," said Noufel. But having been in the pre-press business for 13 years, they had noticed that there were bigger companies in the city that catered to image editing needs, but clients did not seem happy with the results. "In fact, there was a paucity of companies that did small amounts of work on short notice," he added. This is where Honeycomb hoped to be of use.
With about Rs 10 lakh of working capital from friends and an investment of Rs 15 lakh, Noufel and Shibu, began Honeycomb in July 2008. With this, the two set up a small working space in C V Raman Nagar, Bengaluru. A total of two Macintosh desktops later, they began operations, with a team of five people.
After 13 years of being familiar with the ad agency circuit, they managed to get their first job from Ogilvy and Mather. Now, Honeycomb is a team of 12 people, seven Macintosh desktops and a few laptops, and great ambition.
Honeycomb operates in two major segments. In the first, the jobs are routed through advertising agencies. "We have big clients such as Temple Advertising, Ogilvy & Mather along with Mudra, Why Axis, Thousand Suns and Womb among many others?" said Noufel. The second segment is the corporate, who approach Honeycomb directly for quick batches of work. "Some of our major clients in that segment include Tanishq, Wipro, Bosch and Avon Beauty Products," he adds.
Honeycomb also provides the facility of having in-house product photography, often preferred by clients. For instance, one of Honeycomb's biggest projects was photographing products by Tanishq, and an in-house photographer along with an on-site design/artwork team which was appointed to work at the Tanishq factory. Nearly close to 6,000 photographs of the products were taken and processed.
"We did something similar for Dell's "Hero Campaign", where three people along with machines were stationed on site and worked with the client for three months," said Noufel.
Within a year, Honeycomb was nominated for Creative Repro Company of the PrintWeek India awards in 2009, and in 2010, it bagged the award in the same category.
"In our first year, knowing that we would undergo a loss, we went an extra mile to keep the quality as per the high standards, never compromising on it. In the second year, we made a profit of 10% and we are expecting to double that this year," affirms Noufel.
"By November 2011, we will be a team of 25 people," said Noufel. "A larger design and operations team will give me the time to supervise and coordinate," he adds. What began with a 200 sq/ft room in CV Raman Nagar then shifted to Koramangala to an 800 sq/ft office space, will grow bigger in 2012, Noufel envisions.
Honeycomb is looking at opening a digital printing unit in the Electronic City IT belt, Bengaluru. The investment in this unit will be about Rs 1 crore, which will include a Canon or Konica Minolta.
Honeycomb went about an easy, sensible and transparent route to acquire these funds. "Having applied for the central-government's CGTMSE scheme, without any collateral security helped us with the start-ups of machinery and working capital," said Noufel.
Honeycomb will also set up a unit in Mumbai by the first quarter of 2011. "It is the heart of advertising in India, which means a bigger market for us," said Noufel. Even its services will expand, with plans for packaging in the offing.
Meanwhile, the PrintWeek India Creative Repro Company of 2010 Award winner is savouring its recent success.
HONEYCOMB CREATIVE FACTFILE
Founded July 2008
Specialty Image editing and artwork
Location Koramangala, Bengaluru
Equipment and Softwares Apple Macs and Adobe suites