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              MBA Entrepreneur Brings Technology To UK Manufacturing

              Gaurav Singhal, an Aston MBA graduate, is helping forge e-commerce with iron manufacturing in the UK. But he is also eyeing exports.

              Gaurav Singhal, CEO and founder of Door Ironmongery Ltd, moved to the UK to expand his fleet of small businesses.

              Launched last year, his newest start-up aims to become one of the leading suppliers of door furniture fittings in Britain. It is an innovative take on the old-age process of manufacturing and shipping iron goods, in the form of door handles, doorknobs, hinges and front door fittings, which come in various designs, colours and materials.

              The business model is based on establishing direct supply channels with end consumers by importing products directly from manufacturers, eliminating intermediaries.

              He set up his first company, J P Hardware, which manufacturers and exports hardware, in 2007 in India, making profit of $600 on his first order. After passing it onto his father to manage, he launched Indware Ltd in 2010 in UK, which sells hand-forged traditional ironmongery products to UK wholesalers and retailers.

              Gaurav in 2013 enrolled on the MBA program at Aston Business School, based in Birmingham, one of the UK’s burgeoning entrepreneurial hotspots.

              He received funding of £1340 courteously of the BSEEN program, a collaborative initiative that seeks to support start-up businesses that Aston students launch.

              Why did you decide to begin an MBA?

              Although my start-up businesses were inculcating me with a good sense of management responsibilities, I always felt something was missing. I did not want to put myself in a position where, even after achieving success, I did not work efficiently.

              I decided to enhance my entrepreneurial skills by joining the MBA at Aston University[‘s Business School].

              What made Aston Business School standout?

              Aston provided a platform to think practically and globally through a series of events led by industry experts, managing directors, Aston alumni and other speakers from around the world.

              The key to the Aston Business School MBA is rigorous teaching and management training, with a global focus applied through projects addressing current issues and challenges for real organizations.

              How did you come up with the idea for Door Ironmongery Ltd, and how was the company founded?

              The MBA helped me to reconstruct my existing businesses’ structure, and also helped me to learn the workings of multinational companies. As a result, I decided to start another business in the UK with a new approach and new strategies.

              The Aston MBA provided full support to everyone in my cohort to become entrepreneurs.

              The Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network (BSEEN) is one such initiative, in which Aston University provides workshops, tailored mentoring, and the workspace to support students’ start-ups. It analysed my business idea and helped me to start [up].

              Would you describe it as a logistics company?

              No. Door Ironmongery is a mail order company that operates through the main web store.

              The main focus of the company is to become one of the leading suppliers of door furniture fittings products in the UK. The business model is based on establishing direct supply channels with the end consumers by importing door furniture fitting products directly from manufacturers, eliminating intermediaries and passing on the benefits to the end consumers.

              Door Ironmongery aims to provide next day delivery on all products, while ensuring a fast and efficient service. 

              The range of products includes all types of door handles, doorknobs, hinges and front door fittings in various finish, designs, colours and materials.

              How helpful has the BSEEN grant been, and what have you used the investment for?

              BSEEN has supported me by providing a workshop, tailored mentoring, and workspace and [funding], which helped me to purchase software to upgrade my websites, and to purchase goods from India. It works as the foundation for my business.

              Do you value your MBA on an entrepreneurial career path?

              Yes – it helped me to reconstruct my existing businesses and as a result I decided to start a new business in the UK. I have no doubt that joining the MBA at ABS to polish my entrepreneurial skills was the correct decision to achieve success with my businesses.

              Do you plan to expand your employee base?

              As a start-up business, I do not want to increase any expenses by hiring employees. I am working alone on this business and doing everything on my own, whether it is creating different websites, SEO [search engine optimization], account management, stock management, or purchasing.

              Thanks to the advancement of today’s technology, I have designed everything in an automated way, which will reduce my expenses.

              Which regions are covered and who are your target customers?

              The UK Architectural Ironmongery industry’s direct sales are only 20% of entire sector, but the trend of supplying directly to end user consumers is increasing, with the growing trend of e-commerce in the ironmongery industry.

              I am targeting UK customers, but five years down the line the company’s major sales will be through exports.

              Birmingham is emerging as a start-up hub. Can it compete with London?

              I believe start-up businesses are vital to the long-term health of any economy, and they will definitely help Birmingham’s economy [to grow].

              London is famous for businesses with global brands but today’s start-up businesses of Birmingham can become the global brands of the future. I believe in the long run Birmingham will be the new destination for every business in UK.

              Multicultural Birmingham has an aspiring business community, where people openly share ideas and forms partnerships. Along with this, Birmingham council is developing the city through schemes ranging from the transformation of the Paradise Circus area to redevelopment of Birmingham New Street [rail] station.