In Conversation with ‘The Notebook Man’ Ajay Batra, Founder of myPaperclip

Ajay Batra myPaperclip interview

For writers, artists and creatives all over the world, a notebook is nothing short of a best friend—it’s a sounding board that captures your hopes, dreams, failures, heartbreaks and successes. While all artists may nod their heads at this statement, we didn’t think many notebook companies would—until a notebook from myPaperclip caught our eye. Intrigued by its simple and thoughtful design, we reached out to Ajay Batra, Founder of myPaperclip. After an enlightening sit-down with him, The Yellow Sparrow can guarantee that myPaperclip doesn’t create notebooks—it creates companions out of paper.

What started as one man’s passion is now a thriving company whose annual turnover is more than two crore Rupees. We were intrigued when we found out that myPaperclip was born with an initial investment of just one lakh Rupees and couldn’t help but ask what the secret behind this was.

“Believe in the product you are creating. Keep your cost to the lowest. Keep your investment to the lowest. Don’t just go by projections but by the market response of the first level of product. Until you have the desired market response, don’t invest more,” he shared. Words to live by, we say, for all budding entrepreneurs.

myPaperclip Notebooks Ajay Batra

 

 

A Chartered Accountant by profession, Batra discloses that he always knew business was his calling, “By nature, I’m a very creative person and I’ve always been keen on new ventures.” That much is clear from his vast repertoire of business undertakings, from a computer education company in 1990 which had 150 centres across India by 1995 to digital processing for the printing industry to offset printing and finally stationery in 2012.

The story behind the birth of myPaperclip itself is a testimony to Batra’s entrepreneurial talent. A dedicated lover of stationery, he never came back without stocking up on new notebooks from his business trips abroad. This tradition continued over time until one day, he came to two realisations—that travelling hundreds of kilometres to buy stationery was slightly outrageous and that the shocking absence of good quality stationery in India presented a unique business opportunity.

Thus, myPaperclip was born—a stationery brand that promised International quality products at Indian prices. By then, Batra had been running a printing business for a while that often took corporate orders and that, he states, simplified the experimenting and manufacturing that a retail business like myPaperclip required pre-launch.

 

myPaperclip Notebooks Ajay Batra

 

In the past two years, myPaperclip has sold over 200,000 units. And how many errors and screw-ups, you ask? Just three. “Our quality control is very stringent,” Batra reveals. “All our products are manufactured manually. They undergo three quality checks before being packaged. Production is stopped right there if we find a single defect.” No matter which angle you look at it from, 3 complaints for 200,000 products is a stellar track record.

When asked about his top tip for running a profitable business, Batra smiles cheekily and states, “Your sales register should keep ticking all the time.”

myPaperclip is a revolutionary brand that has climbed onto the desks and into the bags of young India ever since its inception in October 2012. Functionality is the essence of myPaperclip—every product screams utility. It’s not hard to guess, then, that their design is as minimalistic as it is striking. As the founder, Batra handles all things creative—designing, sampling, aesthetics, etc. The production is then carried out by his staff. He claims that myPaperclip’s products are a reflection of his own personality—timeless, practical, and classic.

Batra breaks down myPaperclip’s design process into three major components, “The first is aesthetic—the way things look. The second is functionality and the third is ease of use.” Add some sugar and spice and can cook up the perfect notebook too!

 

myPaperclip Notebooks Ajay Batra

 

It is perhaps this utility-minded design that has contributed towards myPaperclip’s runaway success. Corporate customers, especially, have started associating simplicity and efficiency in design with their brand, Batra reveals. One look at myPaperclip’s multi-hued products and you will agree that their charm is almost iconic in its minimalism.

“The biggest compliment is perhaps when people complain about how they can never find our products on shelves,” he tells us with a grin.

He shared another instance with us that made the brilliance of his business acumen clear to us. When coming up with the name of a new venture, most entrepreneurs set their heart on a name and then lament the unavailability of an exact domain name or social media account. For myPaperclip, Batra did the exact opposite. “I searched for available website domains that had the word ‘paper’ in them because I wanted my company to have a proper web address and not a make-do one. I finalised the name after choosing the domain first.”

As someone who saw the relationship between social media and the youth blossom over the years, Batra readily admits that the internet has been one of myPaperclip’s biggest resources. It solved the problems of marketing and publicity for them, seemingly on its own, with happy customers spreading the word about myPaperclip without any prompting.

 

myPaperclip Notebooks Ajay Batra

 

One might wonder whether a stationery manufacturer sees today’s wave of digitisation as a threat to his sales. Batra is quick to dismiss that notion. “I would say that I’m almost foolish when it comes to this. I believe strongly that no matter how digital things get, nothing can replace a good old notebook.” He proved his point further by motioning at the notebooks we were carrying, in addition to recording equipment.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops can’t kill the human need to note.

A true blue entrepreneur, Batra reveals that he loves what he does so much that he gets stressed out when he’s not working. His love for design doesn’t stop at stationery, he has designed the house that he resides in and the furniture in it too. He coyly admits that he has received multitudes of compliments for the same. If his design philosophy is any indication, we can imagine why.

He reveals that for him, the best part about being an entrepreneur is the challenge of it all. “Every morning when I come to this office, there is something new which I am supposed to take care of. That’s what keeps me going.”

“We haven’t seen even a single dull day. We don’t have any sales or marketing guy. It’s all word-of-mouth publicity and the quality of our products that attract people, even companies like Crossword and Nappa Dori.”

 

myPaperclip Notebooks Ajay Batra

 

Ajay Batra’s passion for crafting stationery is so palpable that we might just have to check if printer ink flows through his veins along with blood.

When asked about his vision for myPaperclip, he stated simply, “If a young Indian is carrying a notebook, I want it to be myPaperclip.”

His aspirations might just turn into reality if you look at myPaperclip’s statistics. They’re projecting a turnover of Rupees three crore and sales of around 150,000 products for 2016 alone. Even with zero marketing efforts, myPaperclip is booked with orders for the next three months. In the future, they plan to venture into retailing their products through myPaperclip stores across India.

Humility may be the mark of a true hero but passion is what defines an entrepreneur and Ajay Batra personifies that belief in more ways than one. myPaperclip’s story is one loaded with lessons in entrepreneurship. We learnt a lot from him and we hope that you did too. After all, pearls of wisdom from The Notebook Man himself are definitely note-worthy.

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