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Rang Rage: Hand-Painted Lifestyle*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - FLAME, 16 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Neeti Jain, Co-founder, Rang Rage Ganesh N Prabhu, Professor, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

Case Preview

Rang Rage: Hand-Painted Lifestyle

 

“Hand-painting has global appeal; this creates a very exciting opportunity for Rang Rage to become an international lifestyle and fashion brand.”

– Neeti Jain and Gagan Jain, Co-Founders of Rang Rage


Business Idea

“We struck the hand painted merchandize idea purely by chance. My husband Gagan and I lived in Muscat – we had a comfortable lifestyle with cushy jobs. In my free time I used to paint but I got bored painting on canvas and hanging the paintings in the house, so I decided to paint on apparel. I painted a character on a pair of denim trousers for Gagan (Exhibit I). He wore that denim when he visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris. There was a huge crowd of tourists but every head turned to look at his denim trousers. Gagan wondered if there was some unique pull in painted denim that the most fashionable people in the fashion capital of the world could not miss it!”, said Neeti Jain (Neeti), Co-founder and Creative Director of Sharvian Art & Fashion Private Limited (Rang Rage).

“When I came back to Muscat, we decided to take this idea a step further. We bought plain T-shirts and identified a few designs to be painted. Neeti’s hometown is Jaipur and she knew a few painters there, so we exported the T-shirts to Jaipur for painting. After a month we received our first consignment of painted T-shirts. The response to hand painted T-shirts was very encouraging; we sold all of them within three months,” said Gagan Jain (Gagan), Co-founder of Rang Rage.

“We were amazed at the discovery of such a cool and simple business idea. Send stuff to India, get it painted and sell it in the Gulf, nothing could be better! But a good idea may not be always easy to implement. When we approached the artists again with a second lot three months later, most of them had left painting. They said, “An artist has no value in India. We can’t run our home through this profession.” This statement affected us strongly and it really compelled us to pack our bags and shift back to India. Though there was no business plan in place, we decided to put our savings in our dream for the next two years at least. Thus Rang Rage was
born,” said Neeti..................

Teaching Note Preview

Rang Rage: Hand-Painted Lifestyle

 

Synopsis

The case provides an in-depth view of a family startup that creates value by linking artists in small towns who need an outlet for their artwork with customers who want art-based products and are willing to pay. The gap that the firm fills is the difficulty both sides have in locating each other – artists in small towns find it difficult to locate customers willing to pay well for art products and such customers find it difficult to locate good artists and their fine art-based products. The startup firm actively recruits artists through low cost campaigns and seeks to train them to produce art products with consistency and high artistic quality. It has developed effective ways to identify good and reliable artists and to enable them to improve the quality of their products. It assigns artists to projects based on their skill and pays them a good amount to make this a viable activity for these skilled artists, many of whom work from home. It then charges a high price to buyers who have higher willingness to pay so that an adequate amount can be paid to artists.

The main challenges are (a) to find enough customers willing to pay premium for art based products, (b) to identify products and product categories which will appeal to customers willing to pay premium for art products, (c) to manage costs of recruiting artists and costs of merchandizing the art products so that the business is viable while paying adequate amounts to artists to retain them in an activity whose demand is seen as declining.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding/Before the Classroom Discussion

• Teece David J., “Business Models, Business Strategy and Innovation”, Long Range Planning, Vol 43, pages 172-194, 2010

More recently there is pricing pressure on the company from online marketplaces in India that expect steep discounting – a move that goes against the Co-founders’ view that artists should be paid well to encourage them to continue as artists. The case describes the various methods used by the Co-founders to encourage and recognize artists within the company as well as with the buyers of their art products. It also describes the startup challenges in detail and covers all the bootstrapping methods used at the startup stage with mixed success as the two Co-founders decided to not use commercial borrowing to start their business.............

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Abstract

This case study showcases the interesting entrepreneurial journey of Gagan Jain and Neeti Jain in setting up Rang Rage, a startup focused on art-based products. The case provides an in-depth view of a family startup that creates value by linking artists in small towns who need an outlet for their artwork with customers who want art-based products and are willing to pay. The gap that the firm fills is the difficulty both sides have in locating each other – artists in small towns find it difficult to locate customers willing to pay well for art products and such customers find it difficult to locate good artists and their fine art-based products. Some of the main challenges of the startup are (a) to find enough customers willing to pay premium for art-based products, (b) to identify products and product categories which will appeal to customers willing to pay premium for art-based products, (c) to manage costs of recruiting artists and costs of merchandizing the art-based products so that the business is viable while paying adequate amounts to artists to retain them in an activity whose demand is seen as declining.


Pedagogical Objectives

The case illustrates a bootstrap startup process and illustrates the difficulties of running a business with primarily a social objective while selling products to potentially supportive yet highly discerning customers. The typical tradeoffs between doing business and meeting a social cause are illustrated in the case, giving students an opportunity to debate on the choices made by the company and examine their consequences. Since this is an early stage case, a number of potential new product and new market opportunities can be identified by students and their feasibility and viability can be examined. Business model, innovation and business strategy linkages can be explained with the help of this case. The case also illustrates many dilemmas and tradeoffs identified in product development. It is also a useful assignment case.


Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in:

  • BBA and MBA courses in entrepreneurship and product innovation
  • Strategy sessions on inclusive business models, sessions on business ethics and in valuation related sessions


* FLAME INTERNATIONAL CASE CONFERENCE 2016

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