Mumbai’s DOT leaps into services domain for next growth phase

Mumbai’s DOT leaps into services domain for next growth phase
Tushar Dhote (third from left) with some members of DOT team

For many decades now Dhote Offset Technokrafts (DOT) has been pioneering the commercial printing segment and is now among the leading print service providers in Mumbai. Managed by brothers Tushar and Uday Dhote, the company has been at the forefront of bringing in fresh ideas and approach to how a print house should be managed. So, it was not a surprise when DOT announced during Pamex 2017 that it will be setting up a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) for services to help the industry get more organized and also add value to the DOT brand.

“Of late, the print industry has become very static and we needed to look into how to add value to our brand. We wanted to now have a presence in services as well and that is why DOT established the SBU,” says Tushar Dhote, managing director, DOT.

This is a significant decision for DOT as it ventures into three separate services verticals through the SBU: education, print consultancy and web-to-print.

DOT Institute of Graphics Communication
DOT has forayed into the education space by establishing the DOT Institute of Graphics Communication (DIGC) through which DOT is looking to bridge the skill gap in the print industry. DIGC aims to introduce fresh graduates to the practical aspects of production and provide focused training in various aspects of print technology. DIGC will run a six-month course on prepress, press, postpress and press management. The theory classes will take place at DOT’s Jogeshwari facility while practical will be conducted at DOT unit at Goregaon where all the machinery is placed.

“We have to accept that there is a big mismatch in the skills that fresh graduates currently possess and what the print industry requires. DIGC will help bridge this gap,” says Dhote.

There are some eminent personalities in DIGC’s Board of Studies. They are Ramesh Kejriwal of Parksons Packaging, Dr Rajendrakumar Anayath, vice chancellor of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University, Sonepath, Kamal Chopra, past president AIFMP, Naren Kalapi of Technova, Aspi Forbes of Jak Printers, Dr Akshay Joshi of Pune Vidyarthi Griha, Bhargav Mistry of Grafica, Dr Ashutosh Tripathi of IIT Kanpur and Ramu Ramnathan, editor, Printweek India.

DIGC is not the only endeavor of DOT to make print industry more professional. It plans to spread awareness about career prospects in print industry to students from non-print colleges as well. Initially, it will be targeting five Mumbai colleges where it will show two films dealing with various career options that exist in the print industry and create awareness about what the industry has in store for graduates who are not from print colleges.

“The idea is to attract top quality talent and intellect to the print industry. Initially we will target five Mumbai colleges and then take it to colleges in other cities of Maharashtra and then all over India in the coming years. I know this will not happen overnight, but someone has to make a start if we want to bring in more intellect into the industry,” argues Dhote.

Dhote 2DOT’s offset and screen printing equipment

Print management services
The second vertical in the SBU is the print management services which provides end to end consultancy for startups and new projects. Through the print management services division, DOT will do pre-initializing audit, feasibility study, project planning, implementation, resource procurement, process thumbnailing, and training and retraining.

“As of today, we have executed two projects successfully while a few more are in the pipeline. Yes, this is a business for us but I feel we are also creating quality and professional printers by offering our print management services to someone who wants to start new,” states Dhote.

With the proliferation of internet and smartphones, the number of services offered through the internet and mobile apps has boomed. From food to electronics to clothes, almost everything can be now ordered through a computer or a mobile phone. Print services have also not remained untouched. However, a vast majority of web-to-print ventures that were launched in the last decade or so have been unsuccessful. Dhote believes, the reason is weak back-end.

“You can create a great front-end but if your print back-end is not up to the mark, you cannot go far enough. Most of the ventures that were launched in the past were unsuccessful because there were issues such as poor and inconsistent quality, patchy delivery, among others. That is why we have made sure our web-to-print venture is backed by a very strong back-end,” Dhote says. DOT’s back-end currently is located in Goregaon at its 15,000 square feet facility, which has prepress, CtP, offset, digital, postpress, packaging and logistics under one roof. It has two Ryobi offset presses, multiple digital presses from Xerox and Konica Minolta, Sakuria screen printing machine and a strong postpress section, among others. DOT has also ordered a slew of digital finishing equipment from Duplo, Technova and other smaller machines, which are expected to be installed in the next few weeks.

DOT’s web-to-print venture will have both B2B and B2C segments with former catering to items such as books and magazines while the latter will deal with stationery items. The beta version of the DOT’s web-to-print venture will most likely be launched around July.

Stake sale
Dhote is of the view that DOT’s SBU will reach a critical mass in terms of revenue by financial year 2021-2022. The ultimate objective of DOT, Dhote says, is to have multiple storefronts in various cities of the country by that time. For such an expansion, a lot of financial backup will be needed, which, Dhote feels, can be provided by an investor or multiple investors. However, he is clear he is not looking for angel or venture funding.

“I am not looking for funding. That we can have even now. We are only looking for an investor or investors who are looking to buy outright stake in the company,” he concludes.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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