Ashwani Arya, founder of Perfact is a confident, idea-devouring tech-mech. He shares some of his important printing concepts for the next year with Alok Singh and Ramu Ramanathan
The day we were visiting Perfact Color Digital Prints, there was much fanfare. The main reason was: India was expected to win the World Cup cricket match. And so, the company’s conference room turned into a home theatre. And less exuberantly, almost every one of the firm’s 225 team of professionals were glued to a radio. Amid this flurry of cricketing history, it would have been easy to overlook another, arguably more significant occurrence set in motion in 1993 as a photocopy shop. This is the story Ashwani Arya, managing director of Perfact told us.
Half a day with Arya and it’s clear that print is embedded in his genes. Almost everyone in Delhi politely declined to give us an appointment on the day of the World Cup finals. Not Arya.
In a short time, he provided a fair understanding of the three phases in Perfact existence. It began with a photocopy outlet for corporates in multiple shops on Lodhi Road. After which there was an investment in a DC 12. The EMI according to Arya, "caused a hole in the pocket." Those were the days, Perfact produced print jobs for CCI corporate honchos. While the yuppies waited till one am, they were served rustic food from the nearby dhabhas. The next phase was a five storey building in Prem Nagar. Then there was the grand, 75,000 sq/ft plant in Gurgaon. This became the plant which "shifted print from the inventory model to a highly focussed POD model".
The fascinating evolution of digital applications at Perfact
Arya’s aim is to forge a link between buyer and printer. Whenever possible at whatsoever forum (from Dscoop in Korea to Romancing Print in New Delhi), he openly discusses and shares his variable data campaign experiences and works collectively to ascertain and deliver unbiased business, marketing, and technical knowledge. He feels, understanding how applications and market interact, would help to create potent print solutions.
For Perfact, this means a turnover of Rs 38-crore for this year. The target for 2011-12 is Rs 60 crore.
To boost this, Arya wants to enhance the strength of print production by making it customer-friendly. His pet phrase is: "Client service is like hafeem. Once they get a taste of it, they will need it forever." Arya clarifies that retaining clients is no lucky accident but hard work. Saying so, he explains how he targeted financial corporates including banks and insurance companies (even when insurance companies hit rock-bottom in 2008). Then Arya deep-dives into a tutorial session which will walk you through all the steps required to quickly get variable templates on the server for producing print, sending email and generating personalised URLs to drive a multi-touch, cross-media campaign. It’s one such session that created the dazzling array of collaterals for Max New York Life. This includes web-to-print portals and e-commerce.
One million visiting cards in a day
Perfact is awash with possibilities like Horoscopes (valid upto 30 years) for Rs 975. Then there’s 100 letterheads which can be printed for Rs 675. And 500 visiting cards for Rs 475. The target is one million business cards in a day. This is a combination of web enquiries and walk-in customers. There is strict control over the colours, fonts, sizes. Arya says: "Having a print engine will not suffice. Having a software will not suffice. It’s brain power all the way."
Created an expertise in education
Apart from the standard print fare and VDP applications, Perfact has created eduactional tools which reflect their pro-active role. There are plenty of innovative ideas for private schools network.
For starts, Perfact has created nine collaterals for each and every student in a school. This includes: personalised report cards, almanacs, timetables, certificates, entry name tags, birthday, special day posters. Most of this is possible due to data capture. Plus four photographers who are armed with D90s and D7000s, along with four digital photo studios. After the data and image is grabbed, there is cross-utilisation of data through the XMPie software which Perfact invested in 2007 along with their fleet of digital kit.
Besides promoting print application like tear-free, water-proof paper (refer to picture of certificate in glass of water), Perfact’s mission is "to provide the knowledge and tools needed to create zero error documentation." It’s a winning formula. A remarkable fact is that India is among the most privatised country in the education world. What Perfact is attempting is, to promote personalised applications in schools, colleges and universities.
Perfact launched its school project with modest numbers. As Arya says, "We targetted 1.5 lakh students this year. Even if there is a spend of Rs 500-600 per student, it’s a substantial revenue." The initiative, unsurprisingly, has evoked tremendous response. Arya states: "Most middle class parents who admit their children for private education in these private schools do not mind investing in these ‘goodies’."
A waterproof certificate immersed in a glass of water
Why undervalue what we create?
Asking a printer for his thoughts on the future of print seems a bit like asking a chef for his views on the future of food. Unsurprisingly, Arya takes an eloquent view. He steps back and evaluates the old-fashioned marketing methods of print. That is why, he is very passionate about the online web ordering systems which he has created. He finds the advent of print portals and near infinite data-storage capacity to be "as new and potentially paradigm-shifting as the first Gutenberg bible".
Arya explains: "Web ordering for my corporate customers – like a bank with its 18,000 employees or a pizza brand with 500 outlets across the country – ensures lower prices and instant-download appeal."
This means a user (eg, a pizza outlet in Bengaluru) can log into the dedicated website-cum-printing portal. They can ask for print applications (posters, menu cards, visiting cards), and personalise it. The portal provides online job tracking and the print quotations. This allows the pizza firm’s dealers and channel partners to contact Perfact, directly. They pay, Perfact prints, and the job is couriered to destination.
When asked where does this leave a printer, he says: "The profit margins for digital applications are huge." Arya adds, this is the way to go, and that only the most flexible print firms will survive the transition. He says: "I’m in a digital domain. The key to all this is, I control data. This gives me a big advantage."
There is no clear consensus to cull from the thousands of print applications, which Perfact produces in its three-storey building. Still, it is an opportunity to see how (and what) the company is creating. Even as we exit, Poonam Dikshit, the vice president is planning English classes for the security guards, since they will handle incoming calls. One thing is quite clear: Perfact is ready for the future.
Specialty Variable data applications for banking and insurance sector, POD collaterals for food chains through web portals online ordering, school and university collaterals with variable data and multi layer security embedded. Also photo verticals for personalised coffee table wedding books and specialised applications for manufacturing and health care industry
Location Gurgaon – with a sister company in Delhi
Annual turnover Rs 38-crore
Equipment IGens, DC 7000, DP 180s, Nuveras, HP 5500. Plus softwares from XMPie, GMC and FreeFlow. And post-press kit from Morgana, Kern, Welbound and Rhonituff
Perfact Color Digital Prints is one of the top 500 print firms in India. This rating is from THE 500 list which is published by PrintWeek India and powered by Xerox India.