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The family start-up – A dynamic father-son partnership

By A.K. Madhavan

Most fathers, having their child excel professionally, working with some of the largest global companies in London, and making a mark in their careers, fills them with pride. But the joy in being able to work with your son, in a professional capacity, is far more exciting!

I chose to become an entrepreneur at the age of 54. When I had the opportunity to start Assemblage, I was supported by a solid team, and by combined effort, Assemblage Entertainment grew from strength to strength, from 50 to over 300 people. On one of his visits to India, just as I had setup Assemblage, my son Arjun popped in to see what I was up to and he quickly figured out the potential and possibilities of the business. Interestingly, he saw something different from what I did. With his passion for taking up new challenges and with his risk appetite, he saw the favourable opportunities in the animation and media industry. Coming from different perspectives turned us into mentors for each other that generated a combined intangible value to the organisation. As the business expanded from its entrepreneurial beginnings, I mentored him in the ins and outs of the animation industry, and in turn, Arjun helped the management team in addressing performance and governance challenges.

As our studio employs youngsters, Arjun brought in a fresh perspective to running the studio. With his global experience, he assigned importance to areas like digitisation, innovation, and professionalization. His connect with the teams is at a different level. Their relationship with him, and his understanding of their issues adds higher value to me and to the Company. His hard work combined with his experience, underlined his meritocratic approach to leadership, encouraging his acceptance from employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders. I am acutely aware that for someone with Arjun’s calibre, the opportunity cost of getting out of the global financial market is high; that is the path he has given up. It assures me of his commitment to the company and its people. Something which is well appreciated by all.

On a personal note, seeing his amazing professional growth in the industry that I love, makes me proud and beam with a smile every time a client pulls me aside to tell me how much they enjoy working with him. I have been asked many times about the obstacles of being in business with my son, I honestly think there are not many, when goals and expectations are matched. From my viewpoint, I treat him like every other employee and fairly, which I know he greatly appreciates.

On the flip side, Arjun jokes that he cannot complain about his boss at home.

The writer is CEO, Assemblage Entertainment

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