What they learnt: Milap Shah, PrintStop

Research, research and more research. That has become the Shah brothers' mantra to venture in anything new...

06 Jan 2016 | By Priya Raju

PrintStop has an online e-commerce store arm, in addition to our physical stores. We mostly sell business printing products ranging from visiting cards, stationery, marketing collaterals and promotional material.
We wanted to target a consumer product and identified mobile phones as a fast growing and a large market. For this, we invested in a flatbed UV printing machine hoping that we will venture in personalised products like printed mobile covers. Other applications we could do on that machine were name tags, office signs etc. 
A year after launching the project, we had to shut it down and are looking to sell our machine.
I feel we failed because of there was no required supply of raw material and also the fact that not enough research about the market and the machine was done.  
The supply problem was that, most of these covers are imported from China and supply is extremely erratic and not standardised. For example, one lot of iPhone covers would have a different design as compared to the second one. Also, a large number of mobiles were being launched and this added to the procurement problem. 
While investing in the machines, we ignored the nitty-gritty of various technical aspect of the machine. For example, different materials need different treatment. Some need a pre-coat, some need an over-coat.
Hence, we could not extend this to any surface. 
We have made a few more small investments and those machines too are gathering dust.
The focus of the business should be on your core area and if you intend to diversify into something new, ensure that it is thoroughly researched - right from demand and supply of raw materials, research and development, ROI and so on.
Milap Shah holds a masters degree in computer science from Stanford University and has worked with various technology companies like Oracle, Glacis Capital, and Infosys before co-founding PrintStop. The firm is an innovative new-age printing solution provider.  
Shah is also a co-founder of Hokey Pokey, which is a premium ice-cream company with a presence across seven cities in India. Always in search for new ideas to take the business to the next level, his current focus is on an online print solution, PrintSmart, which according to Shah will make printing easy and hassle-free.

"The merit of all things lies in their difficulty," says Manu Choudhary of CDC Printers
Read his story here