PRATT PANDE, 38
Proforma Idea Press, Alpharetta, Ga.
How does an electrical engineering major end up in the print and promo world? It’s an interesting story best told by Pratt Pande. “After working in the automotive industry as an engineer for a few years after college, I started an e-commerce company in partnership with my mom,” he said. “Our websites sold personalized photo gifts like blankets, pillows, canvas art and wall decor items to consumers back in 2006. At first, the plan was for it to be a part-time side gig, but the website became popular and business grew rapidly, making it our full-time venue.” Demand continued to increase, and Pande’s products even gained traction with large corporations like Disney and Enterprise, who used the logoed merchandise as corporate gifts. Pande and his mother used this as an opportunity to grow their total addressable market. After much research, they attended their first industry trade show, which validated their curiosity regarding customer reach. Soon after, they learned of Proforma, and a discovery day with the Top 50 Distributor powered a “light bulb moment” for the former engineer. The Pandes pivoted their business plan, expanding beyond personalized gifts, and officially joined the Proforma family. In addition to serving on Proforma’s Owner Advisory Council, the younger Pande is chair of its Under 40 group and a member of the prestigious $5 Million Dollar Club.
Why he loves his job: Frankly, I love every aspect of it, but one thing that keeps me motivated every day is being able to provide a meaningful solution for our customers’ marketing and communications problems.
Age roadblocks and advantages: I am not sure if there are challenges or advantages based on my age today, but if I looked back when I was in my late 20s when I started, I do think my advantage was the sheer amount of energy that I was able to apply toward a task or goal. The challenge was to be able to communicate my passion in a relatable way for older generations.
His biggest career influence: There have been several, as everything I know about print and promo is acquired knowledge from my interactions with our Proforma peers. But if I had to point to one person, it would be Greg Muzzillo, founder of Proforma. After we joined Proforma, we were new to the industry and also to the distributor business model. At the Proforma events, Greg’s keynote sessions were huge motivators for us to grow and build our business. Over the years, Greg has always been a great source of business wisdom for me. I do attribute a lot of my business success to implementing his principles and advice in our business.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: Being able to get listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. Proforma Idea Press was listed at No. 448 in 2018, and No. 2137 in 2017.
His differentiating factor: Our strong relationships with clients and our custom-made solutions [make us stand out].
What he hopes to accomplish in the next year: Personally, I would like to run and finish a half marathon. Professionally, l would like to finish 2020 as our best year ever.
Why he believes the future is bright: Companies will still need marketing to promote their product and service offerings in the next five years.
How the industry can better recruit young talent: [It needs to] increase awareness about the industry and the successful career path that exists.
What he does for fun: [I enjoy] spending time with my kids.