Mumbai Capital

No bank for Radha Kapoor

Radha Kapoor at the Indian School of Design and Innovation in Mumbai. — Photo: Vivek Bendre  

adha Kapoor, daughter of Yes Bank MD and CEO Rana Kapoor, has a simple answer for why she didn’t follow in her father’s footsteps. “I was never a number-cruncher,” says the 31-year-old. Besides, she adds, Yes Bank is like any other professional set-up, and it was never a given that either Radha or her two younger sisters would join it. Nor has Rana ever nudged his children in that direction.

“Somehow he always knew that I would go for something more creative,” says the younger Kapoor, “and encouraged me to take up whatever I was passionate about.”

She certainly has, and it couldn’t be further from banking. Ms Kapoor is a ‘creative entrepreneur’ who is involved in multiple ventures: a high-end laundry and dry cleaning service called Pressto, a wallscaping and interiors-design project called Brand Canvas and the 2013-established Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI).

All three have been nurtured under the umbrella of a holding company called Do It Creations, which Ms Kapoor founded in 2009, shortly after her return to India from the US, where she was studying design at The Parsons School in New York.

The company is entirely managed by Ms. Kapoor as Founder-CEO, and also has investments in media, retail and sports (it owns the Pro-Kabaddi team, Dabang Delhi, and the Hockey League franchise Dabang Mumbai). “I wanted to create a portfolio of investments,” says Ms Kapoor.

ISDI, by far, is the project closest to her heart. The school has three branches set up in collaboration with some high-profile partners. The design school is a tie-up with Radha’s alma mater, Parsons; the school of communications boasts an association with WPP, one of the best-known advertising and communications agencies in the world, and the six-month-old startup Accelerator draws its credibility from an alliance with Microsoft Ventures.

In a way, ISDI is an attempt to bring design and industry together. “Innovation is a big part of companies today,” says Ms. Kapoor, “whether its product design, or structures and processes. We wanted students of design [and future corporate innovators] to understand that.”

The school offers a three-year undergraduate programme in media and communications, and a four-year undergraduate and one-year graduate course in design. At between Rs 4 and 5 lakh per annum as fees, she says her institute is in the middle rung of the cost scale, compared to other schools.

The Accelerator programme, which begins with an 11-month course, offers startups the knowledge, investment and general wherewithal to enter the market. And next month, Ms Kapoor hopes to close on a partner for a journalism school.

Her idea is to subsidise the academic costs for students by taking on industry work. Among other things, she plans to turn an existing 10,000 sq ft space into an incubation centre that companies and independent entrepreneurs can rent as offices, studios or maker labs.

Emotional investment

As an entrepreneur and investor, Ms. Kapoor first cut her teeth with Pressto, a Spanish chain that has been in India for the last seven years, with 27 outlets in Mumbai and Delhi. You feel her emotional investment in the Rs 150-crore business when Radha begins to speak, quite passionately, about solvents, running colours and how difficult it is to get paan stains off ethnic wear.

“During our research, we also found that a lot of people wait till they travel abroad to get some of their more expensive clothes cleaned, or send them to hotels,” says Ms. Kapoor. “With the retail boom in India, we felt there was a market for a good dry cleaning service.”

The work that has a direct line to Radha’s design DNA is Brand Canvas, which uses art to create brand recall for organisations, whether in the offices of companies, in hotels or even public places like malls or airports.

“We often go to commercial spaces and see art which is meaningless to its surroundings,” says Ms Kapoor, “so we decided to customise art for brands.”

The team creates installations, sculptures, wall murals, video art — anything that makes the brand, and what it stands for, stick, with employees, stakeholders or casual visitors. Ms Kapoor has worked on a mammoth installation for steel major JSW, and recently created a sculpture denoting global economic growth at Mumbai’s Indiabulls Finance Centre.

Yes Bank, is not a client, yet. If Kapoor senior is disappointed that none of his daughters became bankers — including second daughter Raakhe, who studied finance and even did a stint with JP Morgan — he certainly hasn’t expressed it. Radha says her father is “a great believer in creative ideas, and always felt that each of his daughters should run their own businesses.”

They use him as a sounding board, and he always looks out for them. “He may come across something interesting in the papers, and ask us to have a read,” says Ms Kapoor, “Sometimes he sends across a clipping with a post-it note, which carries some action point.” Sunday lunches -- possibly the only time the family can sit together for a relatively leisurely meal – sometimes devolve into mild grilling. Mr Kapoor may ask for work updates from Radha, or tell her she’s going too slow on something. “It is his hard work and his money, so he obviously wants to see good returns on it,” says Ms Kapoor, referring to the family finances she has drawn on, for her various investments.

Still, Radha is a chip of the old block, feels educationist and former Sheriff of Mumbai Indu Shahani, who has known both father and daughter for many years. “Rana is a banker and a visionary, and I’ve found that Radha has learnt a lot from him,” she says.

“She respects and admires her father, and tries to emulate him in her own way.” While the older Kapoor is more gregarious and high-profile, Radha is a quieter, behind-the-scenes person who allows people the space to work and grow. “You won’t even realise she’s in the room, but she does her homework and comes fully prepared during meetings,” says Ms Shahani. “Their personalities may be different, but their thinking and vision is the same.” Papa would be proud.

(The writer is a freelance journalist)



Indian School of Design and Innovation is a bid

to bring design and industry together



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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 4:04:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/no-bank-for-radha-kapoor/article8013182.ece

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