Noufel A N - Whatever You Do, Do It With the Highest Level of Passion and Ethics (Founder - Honeycomb India)

                                         

From an army of 4 members, we have grown to a team of 80 employees over the years. Today, we cater services like Video Production, Website Development, Graphic Design, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Fine Art Prints, and other Onsite Studio to clients from across the globe.


Tell us about your background, journey, and upbringing.

I was born and brought up in a village called Thiruvilwamala, near Palakkad of Kerala. I was the 11th child of my parents. Studied in the village school till 10th. Pre-Degree (Today class 11 and 12) I studied Physics, chemistry, and Biology thinking that I can become a doctor. 

I failed at the Medical entrance and so I decided to take another interesting subject, Geology. The College was around 80 KM away from my home. I was staying in a small rented place near to the college. Completed the first year. Due to my financial crisis at home, I could not take the course further. 

So one of my friends, Jayaraj Thekkethil, suggested a PolyTechnic course, which is interesting and also the scope of getting a job is very high. It was a 3-year Printing Technology Diploma at the Institute of Printing Technology at Shoranur which is around 30 km away from my home and I could be a day scholar. I joined there. 3-year flight. I passed out in first class. 

As job opportunities were less in Kerala, I decided to move outside Kerala. Completed a short course at Anna University, Madras. Sponsored by another friend, Muraleedharan and Sobha. As soon as that course was completed I got the opportunity to work with India’s leading Pre-Media company, Comart Lithographers in Mumbai and later transferred to the Bangalore office. My actual career starts there.


When and how did you get clarity on what you wanted to do?

My father was a businessman. He and my brothers were running Rice and Paddy business. I too liked to become an entrepreneur. Tried initially after college. But could not get proper guidance and mentorship. Somehow I started working. Other than Comart Lithographers I worked with Gettyimages, the India office also another company for a year. 

Overall I worked for 14 years. Towards the end of the 14th year, ie in 2008 March, I got PINK SLIP from the last company and they called me “Communist” as I questioned them for a few wrong things. That day was the end of my employee life. 

I literally cried while getting down from that office as I did not expect the termination. Also, I have to pay my EMIs, Kids' school fees,s, etc. My bank balance was only a few thousand. It was a real mid-life career crisis at the age of 36!

I was having a good network of friends and college batchmates. Few of them were in Dubai and I had a chat with them about going there and finding employment. As I tried that before and failed, they discouraged me. 

Also suggested, to start something in a small way in Bangalore as I have a good network of people. And they are ready to give 50K as a donation to me when they get their next month's salary. 

They kept their promise. I got 2 Lakh rupees from four of them and I bought an Imac and Pirated Adobe software to start an image editing studio. Formed a Private Limited company, few of my ex-colleagues showed interest to join and my entrepreneurial journey started from there.

From an army of 4 members, we have grown to a team of 80 employees over the years. Today, we cater services like Video Production, Website Development, Graphic Design, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Fine Art Prints, and other Onsite Studio to clients from across the globe.



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What does your typical workday look like?

I start at 9.30 with a review meeting with my team. Around 10.30 onwards I start work on the TODO list from my diary. I handle Marketing and Strategy for the company. Also, I don't miss calling a few clients from my list every day. PR and Networking are highly important. I strongly follow that.


Several global companies have come out and thrown their support behind not needing a formal education. What is your opinion about this?

In few cases, it may work out. Like in our company, for a video editor, he/she may not need graduation or a certificate in that particular area. If they have a good experience, Communication, Aesthetics, Passion, and Creativity regarding how to stitch or animate a video, I will go for him/her. 

It also depends on how the people are upgrading themselves in the area of their work. A person who is always learning and unlearning is the right fit for today's ever-demanding scenario.


How do you handle someone who has lied on their resume?

It was 4 years ago, I was interviewing a candidate for our web Division. Test given. He could pass that. In the final round of the interview, I was asking about his last company and experience. Many things he could not answer. I rejected him. The night this boy called my manager and asked him sorry and he agreed that he forged his resume.

We decided to take him for a 3 months trial. He succeeded. Today he is one of the efficient and smart Web developers in our office.

                               


What are some of your typical challenges and how have they evolved over time?

Rolling Cash/Fund was my biggest challenge in the early days. I came to know about a scheme called CGTMSE for term loans and Overdraft. We utilize the scheme even today. Our Bank, SBI, is very supportive. Another challenge for a small company like us is Employee retention. 

We give different levels of soft skills training, mentorship, Incentive, etc. We sponsor our people for learning new skill sets and courses. Our attrition rate is in single digits. That's an achievement in tough times. 

Another challenge is, people leave and start their own company, which makes us happy. Besides, they poach our clients for business. Many could not succeed. As long as we give good service and quality, no one can break our deal! I strongly believe in that.


What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or those eyeing the top job?

Whatever you do, do it with the highest level of passion and ethics. Always learn new things. Learn and Unlearn.


Which is your favorite book and why?

The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. It's Inspiring.

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