Q. What is your background? How did this idea of organising an Agarbatti expo come up in your mind?
A. Thank you Exhibition Showcase for this opportunity to interact with Exhibition industry through your platform. By qualification, I am a Diploma Engineer in Computers, but passion and conditions pushed me to Sales and Marketing. I have a history of many successful jobs and a list of failed ventures as well. Like many others, I always wanted to be my own boss, tried several times and failed too, in my efforts.
Before starting Incense Media, I was working on a Technology & Media venture “LIVE MY EVENT”, offering turnkey Live Streaming and Web-TV services. I wanted to start, India’s first Internet TV in year 2010, but could not take up that due to many limitations. But “LIVE MY EVENT” gave me a basic understanding and a few good connect in Media, exposure in Event industry and an insight to get into media business.
On the other hand, my father runs an Agarbatti retail business. To help my father, I usually interacted with many Agarbatti manufacturers and suppliers and found the lack of a medium which could fill the gap for the industry players to come on a common platform. That’s how Incense Media was founded in year April-2015. It was initially a print platform only, but in discussion with early advertisers and readers, we gauged the need of an exhibition and announced the first one in Jaipur which was organized in Feb-2016.
Q. Do you feel that being a media house in this sector benefits your cause as an organiser? Would you be liked to called a Magazine publisher or tradeshow organiser – which one of the two more fondly?
A. Yes, Incense Media magazine has been the main base for our exhibitions. It has helped and supported a lot in publicizing our exhibitions. With the help of a magazine you can communicate with readers on regular basis. Though, print media is a very expensive model in today’s digital world, yet very effective. Our readers who are the potential visitors to exhibitions are directly targeted with the help of our publication.
Magazine Publisher and Trade show organizer are two different side of a coin only, to us. We are really enjoying both the positions and it is really very tough to choose your favourite one. However, publishing is still more exciting to me.
Q. How has the journey been so far as a tradeshow organiser?
A. Everything was a “hit and trial” for us as we had no prior experience in Exhibition industry. With Incense Media’s print platform we could get initial recognition and help in business development. Journey so far, as an organizer has been a great learning and a big challenge to us. With every edition, we are improving on our services, show management and trying to provide good experience to visitors and exhibitors.
Q. What have been the major challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
A. All our exhibitions have been organized at a newer location as of now. So working with new vendors at a newer place always, has been a big challenge. In my understanding, exhibition is such a business, where you plan and prepare for it for long-long time and you have just 2 or 3 days time for the results. You are either done or lost. I feel, our industry works like Film industry, where one production team works day and night to make a movie and on the day of release, either you are the Hero or just rejected.
I remember, just a week prior to our Mumbai exhibition which was on 16 & 17 Nov. 2016, demonetization was announced by PM Modi. Effects were seen in next 4-5 days. You left with just 2-3 days to deal with a National issue.
Almost every exhibitor wanted to cancel the show, visitors started cancelling their trips to visit the show and so on. Really a horrible experience and still show went very well.
In one of our shows, one fabricating agency who had 13-14 stalls to fabricate, failed and that failure created toughest moments for us as an organizer.
So challenges are very un-predictive in exhibition industry.
But I have observed that with honest approach, positive mindset and a supportive team, you can overcome such issues.
Q. You have done your shows in different cities. Has this been a fruitful move and what has been the logic behind it?
A. Yes, keeping the shows in different cities has been an experiment to us. We find it very successful and fruitful to our exhibitors. Agarbatti is still a small scale industry in India and treated to be a cottage industry. Gradually it is taking a bigger shape and being treated a FMCG product.
So small scale businesses find it difficult to travel too far locations usually. Rather, we take the businesses to them to cater their needs. Hence, exhibitors find good regional response.
Q. What were the highlights of this edition of Agarbatti expo? Area covered, exhibitors, visitors, states participation, international participation if any and how has the show grown over its previous edition?
A. Recent Agarbatti Expo in Kolkata was bigger than ever in size. Exhibitors & visitors not only from India but from overseas as well, participated in the expo. Presence of visitors from 6-7 countries also proved to be an accomplishment of the show. Earlier we used to organize expos in indoor venues only but this time we tried outdoor venue, as no such big indoor space was available in Kolkata. 40000 square feet was the area we covered, which is almost 30% more in space than the previous show which was in Mumbai. To set-up a German Hanger for all this space was pretty challenging but eventually it remained excellent aspect of the show and was admired by all Exhibitors and Visitors.
Q. How big is the Agarbatti industry in India. What kind of impact is your show able to make for the industry overall?
A. It is difficult to comment on it, as Incense industry is not the part of organized sector. However, it should be somewhere Rs. 4000 to 5000 Crores in size. But more than anything it is very important, that it is giving employment to a larger mass in the country. Our efforts to put the industry on a platform are appreciated by many large and small size businesses. Small businesses feel connected with Bigger ones, on any such platform.
Q. How lucrative is it to venture out as a tradeshow organiser in today’s times? What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs? Any tips to succeed in this business of organising fairs?
A. I personally see exhibition industry with very optimism. You need to have proper initial working, database and research of individual industry before putting up a show for it. We are a start-up for exhibition industry, hence giving suggestions to others will not be justified. I must say, challenges are everywhere, so, in this industry also. But you need to keep your passion alive to make it. Give your best, Leave the rest.
Q. You follow a very busy routine. Can you take us through the course of your day right from the time you wake up till the time you retire to bed? Do you find time for family, friends and recreation?
A. You can succeed in business only if you are supported by your family well. Ours is not a different case. My family has been a back-bone to our family’s brain child, Incense Media. My father, wife and brother have active support with their specific roles My wife Leena left her reputed job in the capacity of H.O.D. in an Engineering College to support the family and to ensure that we have ample family time and work is not affected due to her assignments. My brother Praveen, who worked for a Telecom MNC also has joined the team and has been an integral part and support system to Incense Media. So a usual day, while I am Jaipur is a mix of Family and Business responsibilities. I do travel a lot too.
Q. You also organise Incense Arena.. Please tell us more about it.
A. Incense Arena is a national conference for Perfume & Agarbatti Industry. It is a platform to listen, interact and meet industry leaders. We usually have experienced that, people don’t want or willing to take part in a conference, which is organized during an exhibition. Hence we have kept the conference model separate from Expo.
Q. What are your upcoming plans?
A. We already have got into Soap & Detergent exhibition, with its first edition in Ahemdabad. Soap Exhibition also has created a mark in the industry. We have plans to start 3rd domain of exhibition shortly. We are also eying International destinations to put up exhibitions and conferences.