From bedroom start-up in year 2012, 720 Company growing the numbers

 Executive Curtain Rod company

Some of the workers at Executive Curtain Rod company.

Photo credit: Pool

Founded in 2012 by two mechanical engineers fresh out of the University of Nairobi, 720 Company started as a small venture in one of Kenneth Karuri’s rooms.

Today, it has grown formidably employing over 20 skilled professionals.

Mr Karuri, a co-founder and chief executive of the company reminisces about its origins, driven by the desire to utilise their engineering skills to create jobs.

With a modest investment of just Sh30,000, they set out to transform their dream into reality. “My friend and I are mechanical engineers. We wanted to leverage on the skills we learnt at the University of Nairobi to try and create opportunities for ourselves and others,” Mr Karuri told the Nation.

“By then, I was staying in a two-bedroom house in Kikuyu Town and we decided to come up with something that would earn us money and that is how we started the company in 2012.”

The two bought essential equipment with the Sh30,000 they had. “We borrowed a table and bought a welding machine which was around Sh10,000, a bench grinder which was around Sh5,000,” Mr Karuri added.

However, this was not the first entrepreneurial endeavour for the duo, as they previously ventured into selling tea leaves and juices, further honing their business skills.

“I would say that this was our first business. We tried doing several things before we actually broke through. We had a shop in Westlands and Kangemi selling juices and tea leaves but they all failed. But with determination and resilience, we decided to invest in this business.”

Officially registered in 2014, 720 soon outgrew its humble beginnings. The company’s name, inspired by the concept of encompassing both engineering and reverse engineering (360 + 360 = 720), captures their versatile approach.

Over the years, 720 has evolved into a parent company housing two distinct brands. The first, Executive Curtain Rods, exclusively focuses on curtain rods and accessories. The second, Set Paint, a new venture launched six months ago, caters to the growing demand for high-quality paint.

The curtain rods are sold at Sh1,800 per meter with free installation. “The reason why our products are unique is because they are locally manufactured, they are custom made, powder coated which means they don’t rust and we also do free installation,” Mr Karuri noted.

Some of the items produced by Executive Curtain Rod.

The journey of 720 has faced its fair share of challenges, with the breakthrough coming in 2015 when they secured their first employee after winning the prestigious Tony Elumelu grant.

“This was what really kick-started our business. From the grant, we invested in powder coating products and now a better space for fabrication,” Mr Karuri said.

This grant acted as a catalyst, propelling the company forward. Investing in powder coating products and expanding their fabrication space, 720 began to gain traction. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that they realised the true potential of their business, with an increased focus on tracking their progress and financial growth.

Things were not very smooth in terms of business. However, we started tracking our business record in 2019. This is when we realised there is money on what we are doing.”

While the onset of the Covid-19 scourge disrupted numerous industries, it served as a turning point for 720.

The construction sector experienced a surge in activity, allowing the company to thrive. With increased demand, they expanded their workforce and invested in advanced machinery, multiplying their bracket production capacity from 100 to 1,000 per day.

“When COVID-19 came, the construction field was booming. This is when things began opening up for us. Because of the workload, we decided to employ two more people.”

“Initially, we were just producing 100 brackets per day because it was manual. But with the new machinery, we are now able to produce 1,000 brackets per day. This is a game changer for us.”

Violet Odhiambo, the marketing lead at 720, recounts the company’s transition from traditional marketing to digital platforms.

“When I joined the company in 2019, I used to walk around on various construction sites asking for those who need the accessories and the curtain rods. However, the designers I met advised me to go digital. This is when I decided to create a portfolio from our company and the products we offer,”

“That is how we started Executive Curtain Rods in 2020 and we have been working with it up to date,”

Embracing social media, they established a strong online presence through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their own website. With the help of dedicated sales representatives and leveraging ground-level marketing strategies, they successfully reached a wide range of clients, including developers, contractors, hardware stores, and distributors.

With a dedicated team of 33 personnel, 720 takes pride in their commitment to inclusivity.

Forty-eight percent of their employees are women, while 99 percent are young individuals and three percent represent persons living with disabilities.

As the company sets its sights on expanding into the East African market, they aim to provide quality products while championing use of locally made materials.

Through their participation in exhibitions and memberships with Micro-small enterprise programmes, 720 has seized opportunities to showcase their products as proudly Kenyan-made.

“Last year we got a chance to exhibit our products in Kololo and this year we were at Embu during the first day of the exhibition and we proud ourselves with Kenyan made products.”

As the affordable housing project gains momentum, the company urges the government to recognise the potential of locally manufactured goods.

720 stands as a testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and a steadfast commitment to transforming humble beginnings into remarkable success.