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Sanjay Nayak, co-founder and chief executive officer of Proyog.
Sanjay Nayak, co-founder and chief executive officer of Proyog.

Lot of opportunities as an entrepreneur now: Sanjay Nayak

Nayak's new yoga wear start-up Proyog plans to raise $7 million in June, with a global launch scheduled for 21 June

Sanjay Nayak, who announced on Monday that he was quitting as president of McCann WorldGroup India, is setting up a yoga wear brand called Proyog. An almunus of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Management Kolkata, Nayak, who has been with McCann for the past 14 years, has set up Proyog with three others, Malika Baruah, Dave Banerjee and Priyaktha Iyengar.

The Bengaluru-based start-up is being backed by Naresh Malhotra, who was previously with Sequoia Capital, and Ajay Malhotra of VAMM Capital. The company plans to raise $7 million in June. The global launch of Proyog is scheduled for 21 June, the International Yoga Day declared by the United Nations.

In an interview, Nayak, chief executive officer of Proyog, spoke about the decision to leave advertising, being inspired by the government’s “Make in India" campaign and what brand Proyog will be all about. Edited excerpts:

What’s prompted the decision to leave McCann Erickson after 14 years and turn an entrepreneur?

I think there are a couple of things. When you have spent pretty much a whole lifetime advising companies what to do with their brands, the opportunity to start something on your own and create a brand from scratch seemed really appealing.

The idea behind Proyog is to become a global Indian brand. When we were researching opportunities in this space, we realised that there weren’t many Indian brands that could truly be called global. The Make in India campaign is something I’m also inspired by.

I think it’s time we showed that India has all the capabilities and infrastructure in place—to design, develop and manufacture, all within the country.

What are the opportunities for a venture like Proyog?

There are lots of opportunities on a global level. Besides India, we are targeting markets like the US and Europe. In fact, the market size for yoga-wear globally is worth around $12-13 billion approximately. Most of the apparel available in this space is largely sportswear in disguise. There isn’t much that has been created for the practice of yoga. And we’re aiming at bridging that gap with Proyog. We’ve spent about two years developing this product.

How are you looking at marketing the brand?

We have got our own e-commerce site in place, through which our yoga-wear will be available. We’re also tying up with online retailers such as Myntra, Jabong and Amazon. We’ll have a shop-in-shop presence and are in talks with companies here. We’re also setting up our own store, first in Mysore, given that the city has a large number of yoga practitioners. We’ll look at expansion opportunities as we move forward.

What about price and the kind of revenue you’re are targeting?

Currently, we’re launching only a woman’s wear range. We may expand into men’s wear and yoga accessories. The range will be priced between 1,900 and 3,900. We’re looking at hitting revenues of 100-150 crore initially.

There have been plenty of high-profile exits in the advertising world over the last few years. Any particular motivation for turning entrepreneur?

It’s certainly exciting and liberating at the same time. There are a lot more opportunities as an entrepreneur now. Also, there is a better professional entrepreneurial ecosystem. That makes it easier.

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