I’ve received much positive feedback on the blog piece about the journey of JTCPL Designs over the last 17 years. My entrepreneur friends were particularly interested in the current “back to the roots” phase of the company – JTCPL Designs has recently been focusing on signature workspaces for successful homegrown businesses.
I wanted to show how today’s Indian entrepreneurs approach workspaces, via one such project – for the Mumbai regional headquarters of Manappuram Finance Limited. It is special for me for the reasons already outlined in that blog, but also because it was the first project led by Prathamesh Khandekar, who heads Strategic Initiatives at JTCPL Designs. This blog owes a lot to his inputs.
Unlike MNCs, Mannapuram did not lease, but purchased the office space, even though this is only a regional office and not their headquarters. This displays a level of commitment to the business that only an Indian will truly appreciate. As the owner of my own workspace, I felt a special connection to this approach.
The company was founded in a small coastal village of Valapad, Kerala in 1949, lending money to fishermen whose business was at the mercy of Mother Nature. The second generation has scaled up this business, which now employs about 25,000 people across 28 states and union territories. A truly Indian approach to finance, but now boasting international investor-partners like Sequoia. I would love to emulate this with JTCPL Designs.
Prathamesh specifically points out the pride that the promoter took in building this office in Mumbai – India’s financial capital. As long-time residents of Bombay, it takes reminding by our compatriots that this is the city where it all happens. In their Mumbai office, Manappuram wanted to showcase their company’s scale, future-focus and their efficiency-driven approach.
As Prathamesh recalls, the pitch was a long-drawn process, but only because the promoter himself was very particular about the significance of each space. While they are still rooted in their traditional Valapad headquarters, he was very clear that this office should also look modern, cosmopolitan and energetic.
Both Prathamesh and I could see that the real pride of this office was the executive area – we were literally given a blank cheque. This space used up a large share of the floor plate and we used the finest materials. I foresee many deals that will impact the future of Manappuram being struck here!
Finally, while our work has always been appreciated by our clients, the way that an Indian entrepreneur values the work is something else. The inauguration was a relatively personal affair, compared to the gala events when (say) the office of an MNC bank is inaugurated. Given that the invitees were either family, close friends or long-term partners, I was surprised and humbled when the MD himself felicitated me on the day.
This direct exposure to leaders who have taken ‘small-scale’ Indian businesses and built world-class companies in a generation or two, is worth its weight in gold. I’m looking forward to many more such interactions and you will surely see more blogs on them soon – watch this space!