Elevating interior designing into an art of understanding spaces and customizing them to reflect the identities of their owners, Bonito Designs is a bespoke interior design studio that essentially brings in stories to spaces. It acquaints, familiarizes and understands the vision of the space owner and then strives to reflect them in a manner that corresponds, and exceeds the vision of its clients.
Bonito Designs, headquartered in Bangalore, was conceptualized as a differentiated entity in the interior designing domain, focusing more on distinguishing a space by giving it an identity of its own. The term ‘Bonito’, which means beautiful in several Western European languages, was chosen as it aptly reflected the exotic design ideas crafted by the team and the end-goal of the organization, i.e. making homes beautiful for its customers. To attain this goal, Bonito works through 5 phases-Acquaintance, Design Phase, Production, Execution and the final Handover.
The first phase is essential as Bonito Designs believes in knowing, and not only being familiar with its clients. The stories of families and individuals are essential for them as it is these stories that Bonito aims to ensconce in its design offerings. The information received during this phase fuels the entire efforts of the team during designing, manufacturing and execution stages. At every stage, clients’ inputs and involvement is given paramount importance. Customer psyche is the key for Bonito Designs that otherwise functions without central technology, IP or processes.
At Bonito, users are ensured of concerted efforts towards aesthetic representation of their vision by a highly talented, zealous team that simply breathes design! It also assigns a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager to every client, a fanciful term to essentially describe a person who would be the constant guide and friend to users and act as a bridge to help them smoothly go through the entire designing process.
In order to ensure transparency and offer customers a chance to propose iterations, Bonito Designs has also launched an app for all the partakers of the project. The tech-based app acts as a central repository and guides throughout the project pipeline. It allows customers to be a part of the project by enabling them to track the progress at which the project evolves. The company soon plans to extend the app services to the on-site employees and other employees as well.
Additionally, Bonito Designs undertakes orders for modular kitchens, modular wardrobes, designer storage cabinets such as entertainment units, crockery cabinets, cots, decor paneling, false roofing and other visually dependent elements that define the aesthetics of the house.
About The Founders:
There are two founders:
Sameer Ahmed Mulla
- Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya
- BE in computer Science and Engineering from Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering in 2009.
Sameer’s experience and interest in running a company dates back to his college days. It is his inquisitive mind that drove him to a network marketing company during his college days. During this stint, he sold products like online education courses that consisted of programming languages as well. He became a part of several leadership workshops, conducted seminars and personally trained prospective learners. In a major event that stamped Sameer’s amazing team management abilities, he put together a team of about 7,000 people in a period of 3-4 years and managed to build a strong network in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The experience allowed Sameer to acquire essential people management skills, helped him understand and tackle cultural barriers and improved his delegation abilities, a trait that kept him in good stead for the future challenges to be faced during Bonito Design’s inception. After network marketing, Sameer moved on to content development in the final year of his college. He created a team of 5 people in Philippines and started selling the content to his US-based clients. For a short stint, Sameer also worked as an Android Developer at a firm in Bengaluru. He worked on a few Android mobiles and learnt to retrofit the system into different devices.
While Sameer is not directly involved in the designing aspect of the firm, he brings his SEO expertise to create a steady inbound marketing channel for Bonito Designs. He has generated a free, and ever growing, source of brand awareness and inbound business opportunity through YouTube, as a broadcast tool. Currently, Sameer is heading Bonito’s operations in the capacity of a CEO.
- Mechanical Engineering from M.S Ramaiah Institute of Technology in the year of 2007
- MBA in Marketing from Acharya Institute of Management Science in the year of 2011
Rickson started his career with Beacon as a sales representative in the year 2011. During this stint he was involved in sale and marketing of a Solid Works, a 3D software for mechanical industry. After this, Rickson joined Bonito as one of the three co-founders. Since the inception, Rickson has been heading the execution department. During the last 1 year, Rickson also shared responsibilities of design department along with Vathsala. Currently, Rickson is working towards expanding Bonito’s services across the country and also taking up design projects outside the country. He’s also working strengthening the vendor community in the interiors designing industry, through building up string vendor relationships and a robust supply chain management system.
We are publishing an interview with Mr. Sameer A.M., Founder & CEO:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: The home buyer today is evolved at many levels, armed with varied knowledge and exposure and a vision of their dream home. What they need is an expert who empathises with them and translates that dream/vision into a relatable reality. That’s where we come in. Our experience of having delivered 1300+ homes has given us the insight to dwell deeper into filling this gap.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: We are in the space of providing home interiors as a service. While we manufacture and deliver fitments related to interiors of a home like wardrobe and kitchen, we provide a larger service in delivering a home that is complete in every aspect of beautification and functionality. We design a home and support our clients to great lengths in making sure the draft design on paper gets translated in the minutest detail in execution. We complete a home, that once set its ethereal journey as a dream in the mind of the consumer.
What we considered as a market fit 3 years ago may not be true today. In that sense, we assess the value that we provide in a timely fashion to either confirm a previously believed hypothesis or to create a new one. Like for example when we started out, this segment was extremely chaotic with unreliable carpenters. And consumers needed someone they could trust. While the trust element aspect in the space still remains, the realm has expanded to consumers wanting their home to be the best there can be, unique to them in line with their aspiration.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Absolute personalisation has been our key differentiator. For us every home is an empty canvas that provides infinity possibilities that one can imagine. Over the course of time, we have built a strong R&D team in house, that facilitates our designers with technical know hows, so they can get creative without any restrictions.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: Inability to Listen or pay attention. That sums up the answer in brief. Being an entrepreneur and having built an organisation from scratch leaves you with ugly and deep scars and few rare and exotic jewels in the crown; and when anyone other than you speaks, its easy to frown. Because end of the day, the width and breadth of experience you’ve had enables you to be able to have expertise in almost every aspect of the business. Truth however, is far from it. I realized this the hard way when I ignored and tossed in winds suggestions and advice given by my partners, peers etc only to walk and stumble into the pit that I was warned of. Enough such experiences has enabled me to grow the wisdom to discern when are the times when you truly needs to listen, pay attention, absorb everyone’s point of view and the times when everyone needs to listen to you (which is an extreme rarity).
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Our pricing strategy is a mix of cost and value based pricing model, since we provide both product and service.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Cold calling was the way to go. We got hold of a database and mustered the courage to call, threw a hail Mary and we found Renuka. Our first customer who laid faith on us, amongst the 30 odd people we cold called.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors
Ans: Tomorrow Capital (Early stage active investor) are the perfect partners we could’ve found!
Tomorrow Capital is a $100 million early-stage strategic investment fund focused on helping early-stage businesses with capital and access to blue-chip talent, industry networks, and resources for growth which enables them to drive the next wave of growth and enables us to create the next consumer unicorns to come out of India. Tomorrow Capital empowers stellar early-stage entrepreneurs with strong and differentiated business models to build transformative and sustainable businesses by helping them with
• Long-term patient capital
• Hands-on operational support in building the business
• Ability to think and operate at scale
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: That raises the question what is success after all? Is that the final glorified climax that we all seem to wait for is it more of a lifestyle quality that is reflected in a day to day basis? I’d like to believe it is the latter wherein you find success in what you do in one single day. If you could convert one single customer today; it was a success; if you could resolve the pain-point of your colleague or customer it was a success! In that essence; I’m successful every single day. But I recall the day when we hired our first factory manager at a payscale four times ours and it was a scary decision back then to take. We took the leap of faith and placed the trust on the table. Months later when this person helped us deliver 5 times what we could previously, it took our business to a whole new level.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Well, one of the imagination that is still green in my mind is being able to design homes in Mars, whenever Elon decides us to take there. But for now, I feel we’d have to be happy with being able to bring humans of the earth home. The product alone wouldn’t lead us anywhere. But the lethal combination of our technology and the insanely mad and creative people we work with is bound to bring magic which we haven’t witnessed previously. It wouldn’t be ambitious at all to say that we’d leave enough dents in the space time fabric. This is possible because we envision a two way interaction between humans and machine. We’re in an era where increasingly humans are being replaced by technology; but we believe the best of the possibility is at the epicenter of amalgamation of humans and technology; and with that view, everything that we build empowers people, and people who are empowered build products that are of beauty and awe.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
- 1300 + Happy customers
- World’s third largest Interior Design YouTube channel, as rated by YouTube, with currently 4 lakh+ subscribers.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans: Sure. They are:
- Sameer AM: CEO / Growth Strategist and Marketing Expert
- Rickson D’Souza: COO | Backend Execution Expert
- Bharath Sampath: CDO | Design Team Strategist and Mentor
- Arun Gonal: CHRO | Human Resource Specialist
- Pradeep Bhat: CTO | Tech and Process Specialist
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: 95% of the market is still serviced by the unorganised sector, with customers being at the mercy of mostly carpenters and a few independent designs teams. Consumers are becoming more aware with time that they have a choice to achieve greater value when it comes to home interiors without having to take the added stress that’s perceived to be obligatory with the experience.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: Unleash the creative potential our company carries inherently; and bring it to our customers without burning a hole in their pockets. Bangalore is yet to witness what a dream home means; and we hope to bring that magic to growing number of people we serve. We hope to reach out to 300+ families in the next six months.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Hang in there!!
Thanks Sameer! Best wishes!!!