When you’re 16 and finishing high school starts to look doubtful, you are willing to do anything. Which is why B.G Girish was prepared to cycle around town selling photoconductive plates. When Girish’s father took premature retirement from the Army, money became scarce for the household, and the boy had to pay his own way through school. But what could a youngster at that age do? His uncle working for Kores, suggested that he sell consumable to Xerox retailers. Girish set in place a business plan: to buy duplicating plates and hawk them to retailers at profit.

For starting capital, Girish used the money he’d been saving since he was six – all of Rs 1,500. He bought five duplicating plates at Rs 300 a piece and sold them for Rs 350 each, a profit of Rs 50. In just two years, he had made Rs 25,000. Some 25 years later today, he owns Daxso Prints, a printing press that makes a Rs 2 crore a year.

Within 3 years, Girish had decided upon his career, and he promptly enrolled in a three year diploma course in printing Technology, juggling the life of a student with that of an itinerant salesman wasn’t easy but Girish stuck on.

By then, he’d also hit upon  a new business idea. In two years of pounding the streets, Girish had noticed that several advertising agencies went to typesetters seeking innovative fonts. If  only  he  had typewriter,  he  could


design letterheads and cards for these agencies and print them cheap. Says Girish: “I gathered all my courage and approached Canara Bank for Rs 5,000 loan to buy a Electronic Typewriter.”

  A lending hand  

But why a loan ? Surely he was earning well enough to be able to invest some of his own savings in this new business venture. He says by taking a loan instead of investing, I was tying myself down to the discipline of regular repayments; fear of defaulting drove me to work hard.

He did repay on time, and by the time he had finished his course, he was doing well enough for the bank to confidently extend another loan – this time Rs 54,000 for a network typewriter and an offset machine. Daxso Prints was on his way.

By now Girish’s network of contacts and customers had grown. And since he no longer had classes to attend, he could spend those precious hours meeting customers. Nights were spent reading Proofs and printing. He was only 23 when he had invested close to Rs 1 lakh on capital, and was repaying close to Rs 5,000 every month on his loan accounts.

The hard work paid off, and by the end of the first year, Daxso’s turnover touched Rs 50,000, But profits were elusive, till he landed his first big deal – a Rs 1.25 lakh state government order. Says Girish : “For a whole week I kept the cheque in my desk before I gathered the courage to present it at the bank!”

  Choppy waters  

By end of 1989, Girish was eager to expand his horizons. He was newly married, and all set to upgrade his company. He started off by investing Rs 1.5 lakh in a DTP – based system. Before he could do much with it, a relative invited him to Dubai. Girish accepted the invitation, hoping to take a few months off to build new contacts abroad.

But business back home suffered. His team of five employees could not meet deadlines, customers defaulted and loan repayments suffered. By the time Girish returned, losses mounted to Rs 3 lakh. And he found that he had to spend a similar amount to repair and renovate a property that had been in litigation for two decades. He scrimped and scrounged, and pumped in all his personal savings into rebuilding, so that his family would have a home of their own.

  Stamp of success  
On the business front, luck soon smiled on him and he landed a Rs 10 lakh order from Home Page Point Services, a Motorola offshoot. That took care of repayments and the losses. More multinational clients followed, and Girish launched an offset printing subsidiary called Gap Tech to cater to these customers. By 1997 he says we crossed the Rs 1 crore mark in turnover. It was time to re-evaluate the business again.

This meant keeping pace with technology, involving investments of atleast Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Although he had an overdraft limit of Rs 5 lakh and could also have taken a term loan, he opted not to invest in new equipment. Instead, Girish tied up with two established printing businesses on a turnkey basis. This allowed him to keep abreast with technology and maintain his client network – without raising his debt exposure. Today, he’s looking forward to doubling his turnover in five years.

Working for a living from when he was 16 has taken a toll on his health. But moving to a turnkey model has helped bring down his stress levels. Says Girish : “Quality of life has been as important to me as success in business and I want to find a way to balance both.”
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