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Choice Decors: Capturing market with choicest furnishings

Choice Decors, specialists in ceiling décor products, believes in selling cost-effective to premium range products suiting people’s choices and needs

Seema Agarwal

Seema Agarwal

Stores selling furniture are aplenty in the city of Hyderabad, Choice Decors a startup however excels in selling soft furnishings, which include customised wallpapers, curtains, window blinds and other type of soft furnishing. "If you have the budget, we sell as per those norms and if one wants premium product, we sell that as well," says Seema Agarwal, the owner of Choice Decors. "For us, every single client holds equal value and the team gives equal importance to every client who visits our store," says Seema

Started three years back, the company gained momentum with the joint efforts of Seema Agarwal and her husband Anup Agarwal. The main idea took off when Seema Agarwal's husband visited a person who was dealing with snooker tables in Kerala. "My husband was inspired seeing those snooker tables and got a few of them from Kerala. But unfortunately that idea didn't work so well. Later, we started getting orders and we moved into window blinds industry," says Seema Agarwal.

When the company was started, the owners faced problems of funding and staffing. "Initially we didn't have any money to start the company. After paying off the loan of a property, we had to sell it, which fetched Rs 10 lakh for starting the company," says Seema Agarwal.

Over the next few months, there were more addition of products and the company got associated with more than 20 brands selling more than 20-25 products. The firm has also done small residential projects.

The startup has more than 200 catalogues to choose from and their products include curtains, window blinds and wallpapers. They are also associated with big brands like Somfy in motorisation, Phifer for window blinds, Marvel for window blinds and Vox, a Poland-based startup is an authorised dealer of ceiling décor products.

"We have supplied products to many big clients namely, Microsoft, Google and SBI among others. We have even done projects for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Tata Aerospace," says Seema Agarwal. Having gained the momentum over the years, a strategy the firm uses to retain clients is to offer good discounts while not compromising on the quality and the price of the product and the service offered.

"In order to begin a startup one should have the zeal and have an idea to start the business. The main challenge comes with the financial assistance wherein if people want to do something, financial assistance comes as a big stumbling block," adds Seema who having learned about the Startup India loan, which the Government of India provides.

Even before applying for the Startup India loan, the firm already did have a few orders in hand and had started its work process. "The lengthy paperwork caused a lot of delay. By the time our loan reached the bank, it took almost a year. When we approached the bank officials they denied our loan saying it has been a year and added that the company had already started operating, as a result, the loan cannot be sanctioned," ponders Seema.

Since the company needed more funds to boost the turnover, it grabbed a lucrative offer by IIT Hyderabad. "To fulfill that order we somehow pooled up money from whatever personal sources we had," says Seema. Later, the company approached SBI, which offered MSME loan of Rs 15 lakh.

Initially, the company started with one employee and went on to hire more people. "The starting pay for my employees is Rs 10,000 and goes up to Rs 25,000. In the beginning, it was very difficult as we started with one employee only. Now I have a team size of 10 people," says Seema.

"Three years back, the basic pay scale was Rs 8,000 for employees and now their pay scales are between Rs 16,000 and Rs 18,000. In our company one can see a hike of 100 per cent, in two years," says Seema. The company is more labour-oriented because it has to give end-to-end service to clients. It provides free insurance as the employee's health is of priority and it gives them free ESI, relaxation of pay for sick leaves and a friendly work environment. The company also gives increments depending on the performance of an employee and motivates them to work more cheerfully.

The owner believes in the fact that discipline is compulsory in the overall financial system when one runs a startup. "Startups have a lot of issues of bringing discipline in the company. So a proper thought process is required to begin a startup. Paying rent is one of the major challenges," says the owner.

When it comes to raw materials, the company has a tie-up with Delhi-based Vista, which is a seasoned player in the market of window blinds in India. "They gave us all the raw material to make window blinds and thankfully business with window blinds is one such category where one need not search for orders. Every house and office need curtains or window blinds without fail," says the owner. Later the firm came to know about more companies where it could source the raw materials easily.

It also takes help of a Poland-based company named Vox, which is into ceiling solutions and wall decorations. These are specially made to withstand the heat and rain. Normally POB is used for false ceiling or low-ceiling in residential buildings. POB release harmful chemicals when exposed to heat and water, which is not advisable for use. But still people use it because of its cost factor. We have an alternative for this false ceiling, which is presentable and also not harmful for the human beings," says the owner.

As an entrepreneur, she opines that an app should be developed so that people can buy products through the app, by which one can save time, energy and money in terms of employing people. Based in Hyderabad the store is located at Banjara Hills, Road number 4.

Aparajitha Vishwas Saikumar
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