Indian weddings, over the years, have been an ideal launch pad for innovative business initiatives; as in the case of IITians Dhiraj Kacker and Peeyush Rai, who started Canvera Digital Technologies, a digital imaging solutions provider.
Canvera has changed the image of wedding albums, replacing bulky and heavy albums with swanky photobooks.
This Bangalore-based firm was started with a venture capital funding of $2 million, and has since raised another $3 million. Apart from weddings, they also deal with fashion portfolios, corporate brands, and other functions etc.
CEO Kacker says Canvera is associated with photographers in over 200 cities and towns. “Once they (photographers) have taken the pictures, they send them to us, sometimes with the design for the book; if not, we design and deliver the book within 24 to 48 hours,” Kacker adds.
All the same, the photobooks are not for the light-pocketed. They can set you back by anywhere between Rs 4,000 and Rs 30,000. Wedding photobooks form about 60% of Canvera’s business.
Both avid photographers, Kacker and Rai founded the firm in October 2007, and it has over 300 employees today. “We are both passionate about photography, and the idea to start the venture was Peeyush’s,” says Kacker.
After completing their IIT degree in 1993, Rai went on to work as a software engineer for Citicorp, Oracle and a host of start-ups in the US, while Kacker earned an MS and PhD in the US. Kacker then worked with Shutterfly, an American digital photography company.
Kacker says weddings will continue to be the biggest draw for Canvera, which also has a manufacturing facility in Bangalore for photobooks. “There are 10 million weddings in the country every year, and the Indian wedding servicing industry is growing 25% annually”.
He adds wedding photography is fast becoming an art. At the top end, the country’s marriage spend is about 12% of India’s GDP of Rs 46.7 lakh crore (in 2008). At the bottom end, the marriage spend is higher than finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Rs 1,86,000 crore stimulus package for the economy.
Refusing to divulge Canvera’s
revenues, or his age for that matter, Kacker states, “We operate in a highly unorganised market, and our main competitors are mom-and-pop stores. We offer things they don’t.”
Canvera ensures the privacy of the design of the photobook
and pictures.About the way forward, Kacker says, “We are working on a website, which will be launched in 2010. It will, for instance, have the photos and video of a wedding that can be accessed by the couple’s relatives and friends.”
Though it’s too early to call Canvera’s idea and business model a ‘success’, Kacker says more companies like his would crop up in the near future, and that the market is big enough to accommodate them all.