It is often said, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. This, perhaps, best sums up the entrepreneurial journey of Anuj Mehta and Shyam Makhija, the duo who founded Mumbai-based Pegasus Toy-Kraft in 2007. Makhija, who holds a PhD in organic chemistry, left his job as a research scientist at Searle India to scale up his family business in electronic equipment distribution. He then diversified into distributing toys and worked with companies such as Blow Plast (who sold toys under the Leo Mattel brand) and India Book House. However, his business suffered in the late 1990s when the bigger stores started bypassing him and went directly to the manufacturers.
Around the same time, Mehta, a computer programmer by education, used to handle his family business of making traditional toys and was a supplier of original equipment to Blow Plast. However, with increasing imports of toys, the company suffered huge loss and shut shop, leaving its suppliers in the lurch.
But both Makhija and Mehta were determined to turnaround the business, and joined hands to launch a new range of innovative toys under the brand name Toy-Kraft in 2007. It has since been renamed as Pegasus Toy-Kraft, after the mythical winged horse. And their perseverance has paid off.
Over the past 11 years, the company has established itself as a strong toy manufacturer in India, with over 200 products across categories ranging from art and craft hobby kits, metal construction toys, jigsaw and educational puzzles to board games. “We are the only company to be present in so many categories. We have original IP and offer strong differentiation in each of our products,” says Makhija, gesturing towards the wide array of toys lining the walls of his cabin. Their toys are sold across 2,000 retail outlets, including stores such as Crossword, Big Bazaar and HyperCity as well as on their own e-shop and online sites such as FirstCry. They also export to 25 countries including Poland, Middle East, Lebanon and Sri Lanka and are targeting revenue of Rs.80 million this year.
Toy-Kraft not just makes toys for the retail market, but also creates original product ranges for companies such as Pidilite, Reliance Retail for Hamleys as well as Club Mahindra, which stocks Toy-Kraft toys at its resorts’ creative corner.
“Pegasus is one of the few companies which has an excellent business model in India,” believes Manish Kukreja