How This Manufacturing Scion Designed His Entrepreneurial Venture
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Finding the need to infuse creativity and design into high strength engineering solutions is what spurred Viraj Kalyani to start his entrepreneurial venture - Kalyani Studio.
Being entrepreneurial and starting something on his own has been in his blood, who happens to be the nephew of Baba Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Forge. Viraj comments, "It's all about taking risks."
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Viraj started working with Kalyani Forge in 2012 which lasted for close to four years. Right from the start, Viraj was looking at transforming the way manufacturers operate.
Viraj says, "Right from lean manufacturing, improving the systems at the company and re-engineering the culture of the organization, I tried to change quite a few things in the company." Working at Kalyani Forge, Viraj realized that high strength components lacked creativity and to fill this gap, he started thinking about Kalyani Studio.
He says, "It involved a lot of interaction with people in the industry." Kalyani Studio does a lot of design and engineering at the early stages of product development, right from working on the initial concept with the innovation team and the R&D team.
On his idea of not nurturing the same under Kalyani Forge and setting it as a separate unit altogether, Viraj says, "Kalyani Forge is a manufacturing company and more focused on manufacturing products that are already designed by clients."
Currently, Viraj is working on designing a lubricant free machine. Viraj has a tie-up with IIT-Mumbai's mechanical engineering department for future concept generation. His venture also involves a lot of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Talking about his recent breakthroughs, he says, "We are working on very exciting areas in terms of new materials, which involve high strength but are light weight." Talking about the change one has to go through while operating a start-up rather than running a bigger enterprise, Viraj says, "It requires a change in your leadership style."
Specializing in designing and engineering both, Viraj infuses analytical and creative skills at Kalyani Studio.
When asked if having the name Kalyani attached to his start-up has helped him get more clients on board, he says, "Sometimes the name helps but sometimes what helps is a fresh innovation which your start-up came up with. Both things are important but at the end of the day, it is the quality of services and products that matter the most and the relation that you build with your clients."
Finding his first client required a lot of hard work. It was a completely new company. And what the client wanted could be communicated after multiple meetings. "There was really a good meeting of the minds culturally which was very important," he shares.
(This article was first published in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)