Srinagar-based entrepreneur, Athar Bhat, tread the path less travelled when he chose to become an entrepreneur by starting d’Decos, an architectural and interior designing company that provides turnkey construction solutions to people.
For 30-year-old Athar Bhat, entrepreneurship has been a journey full of challenges but the accomplishment he achieved by setting-up his company d’Decos is quite fulfilling. While sitting in his plush office space at Rambagh in Srinagar civil lines, Bhat recollects the arduous path of entrepreneurship he chose against the wishes of his family.
Son of a banker, Athar as per his family customs, should have ideally chosen the medical stream or else made a career as a government employee. However, destiny had something else in store for this commerce graduate from Islamia College.
Soon after his graduation, Athar went on to do an MBA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration. A Bachelor’s in Interiors turned as a stepping stone for Athar to make a career which is all about an architectural and interior designing company that provides turnkey construction solutions to people.
“When I first told my parents about my desire to launch a start-up that deals with design and architecture, they were not so pleased. It was an alien idea to them but thankfully I have been able to prove my instinct right,” says Bhat.
The need for a new-age mechanism in construction and space development struck Athar first, when during 2013 his family was constructing a house at Habba Kadal.
“The labour and material associated with the construction was so unorganised back then. This personal experience made me realise that project management had a lot of scope for improvement and I took up the task of launching a start-up firm” says Bhat.
Soon after the idea of a business came into Athar’s mind, he was grappling with too many challenges at the same time.
While possessing a basic financial assistance to launch his start-up made him slog a lot, the space for his office was also an issue. However, both financial and logistical issues got addressed with time as Athar put in a lot of hard work.
“I started my business from the bedroom at home. This room was converted into an office space” says Athar. “Today there is no looking back. We have this beautiful office space where we love to work” says Bhat.
A door-to-door campaign to create awareness about the core philosophy of d’Decor, helped Athar to spread word of mouth publicity about his venture.
“We integrated three services i.e architecture, contractor service and material supplies. The first major business breakthrough we got was two years after the launch of our business. Till this point in time, we were only catering to a handful of client requirements here and there. This was the first major scalable project” says Bhat.
From constructing mega homes with modern architecture and design to customised space makeovers such as bridegroom bedrooms etc, d'Decos has come a long way.
“We designed 3D models and delivered them in letter and spirit to the client. This really reflected the complete idea of a professional way to handle a project” says Bhat.
Athar says d’Decos has completed 4000 to 5000 projects during the last nine years but is quick to add the challenges he and his team had to face, first due to 2014 floods and then uncertainty in the situation in Kashmir for subsequent years.
“My advice to budding entrepreneurs would be to explore yourself and your surroundings. One must make a career in what he or she is comfortable doing,” says Bhat.
As per Athar the boom in architecture and construction companies in Kashmir is on expected lines. This young businessman says the vast scope in these fields is a welcome step for the youth of Kashmir.
Athar proudly says he started the business all by himself, but at present d’Decos has a team of 25 employees. Besides, there are 350 persons indirectly associated with the company, Athar adds.
“These are all masons, carpenters, labourers, electricians and plumbers apart from other skilled labour. We are glad to have them in our family” says Bhat.
Athar’s major inspiration to work with passion comes from good architecture and designs. He is deeply inspired by architect Tony Ashai, a Kashmiri origin architect who is popular in the US.
Ask Athar about the expansion plans of d’Decos and pat comes the reply. “We want to have an office in each district of the Valley and also have a presence in the industrial sector. We aim to have production units which can help to generate local employment” says Bhat.
However, Athar highlights the nuances of traditional Kashmiri designs, which his team always incorporates in their projects.
“From wood carving to usage of other traditional motifs, we always want the local industry to boom” says Bhat.
As per Athar, his company is keen to provide free internships beginning next year in architecture, design and management.
“We strive to turn innovative ideas into reality with our skilled teams of designers, planners, and workers. Our dedicated and experienced teams give proper shape to ideas and lay a roadmap for our civil contracting, construction, and interior makeover teams. Our goal is to provide hassle free interior design, planning, and execution services to our clients with a complete key handover concept. We would love to have youth join us as interns from next year” says Bhat.