Who would have imagined that doing up a home could spark a multi-crore business idea? In July 2006, when Harshul Parikh, now my life and business partner, was setting up his home in Mumbai, I was working as assistant vice-president at Citibank’s wealth management division, handling the funds of ultra high net worth clients in south Mumbai.
Parikh had spent five years in Silicon Valley and was used to a certain lifestyle. So, when he was forced to return to India to handle his family business after his father became unwell, he wanted his two-bedroom house to remind him of his California pad. He wanted it packed with the latest technology-state-of-the-art electronic gadgets, home theatre, and more.
However, nobody was catering to such dreams at the time or even had complete knowledge of this technology, so we decided to do some research and get things done ourselves. Not only were we thrilled with the end result, but figured that we had stumbled upon a winning business idea. It helped that Parikh was looking to start his own business. That was the genesis of Trescent Lifestyles.
We wanted to offer our customers a dream home that went beyond aesthetics and provide integrated home technology solutions that would respond to their whims and fancies. So our services include home automation, audio video systems, specialised home theatres, electronic security, among other things. These are more than fancy gizmos, for they also help consumers save a lot of energy.
Parikh’s father owned a 1,000 sq ft office at Worli in central Mumbai, and we decided to use it as our office. We started with a seed capital of Rs 40 lakh, which came from our combined savings from our previous jobs. Before Citibank, I had worked for three years with MDS PACC, a Dubai-based firm I had joined after completing my MBA in 2000. Harshul, on the other hand, had worked for various start-ups after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.
Most of the seed capital went into refurbishing our office into an experience studio, one of the few companies that showcase and offer all aspects of a smart integrated home, including a home theatre. Here, our customers can get a firsthand experience of home automation and see how the product functions before buying it. In December 2006, we officially launched Trescent Lifestyles. However, I did not quit my job immediately and did so only after about a year, with Parikh managing the business till then.
At that time, architects and building contractors typically outsourced the job of getting and installing gadgets to dealers, who would peddle an unbranded product with virtually no after-sales service, so as to increase their margins. We contacted a couple of reputed architects in the city offering a more professional alternative to dealers, and that’s how we got the lead for our first client-Satish Khanna.