A trailblazer is someone who truly sets themselves up for success. They are known to be innovators and do things that have never been done before. They welcome problems and gain momentum by overcoming them.
Trailblazers bring everything they have to accomplish their goals — through their vision, their passion, their determination, and their willingness to learn. As leaders, they question assumptions, take risks, and transform the present for a different future.
One such pioneer who exudes unmatched drive, passion and rigor is Pranav Arora. Pranav is the Head of Division at Just Funky, a family-owned premier manufacturer with more than four decades of combined experience in manufacturing, licensing, retail, and creative development and offers manufacturing of licensed and private label merchandise.
He is also the CEO of JMTD Holdings, a private equity firm providing capital and invaluable partnerships to globally recognized industry leaders.
Pranav believes that entrepreneurship isn’t easy, “Sometimes it may feel easy when everything is going right, but the hard work comes when you’re trying to make it out on the other side of a nightmare week,” he adds.
Despite facing several trials and tribulations in life and business, he truly feels that if someone has all the traits listed above, this is what will set them up as revolutionary leaders in their industries.
His Million-Dollar Experience
Imagine a world where experimentation becomes central in our lives as opposed to an afterthought.
That’s the life Pranav has led from his early years.
“Business has been in my blood as far as I can remember,” he says. And he kept the feeling of experimenting alive by being on top of things and letting his curiosity glide.
“I would constantly share my business ideas with my parents from a young age,” he says. Then, in middle school, he started his first “business,” where he would sell packs of gum and pencils to his classmates in between classes. “This was my first taste of entrepreneurship; I was in love,” he recalls fondly.
As a 16-year-old, he started his first successful venture, Highly Educated. “I spent all of my spare time throughout high school and the first half of college growing my business, and then eventually dropped out of college to devote my full attention to my company,” he says.
This was the time where he learned to organize, to collaborate, to sell, to think like an entrepreneur. He learned—often unconsciously—and earned practical knowledge that turned out to be a great advantage in hindsight.
Little did he know that his early entrepreneurial experience was the ideal preparation for leading his own businesses later in life. “It was the best decision I ever made. That was my first million-dollar company and is what stoked the fire in me to continue that pace into today,” he shares.
Exceptional Success of Just Funky
Just Funky was not an overnight success. It took over four decades, a dedicated team, a muscle for adaptability and continuous innovation to get the brand’s name on the map.
Based out of Ohio, Pranav Arora brings his rich experience in the business, media and finance industries and he upholds his family-owned business in the highest regard.
Currently, Just Funky’s specialty areas include drinkware, impulse and novelty items, decor, and apparel. The company has more than 20,000 independent retail partners across North America and, more recently, the European Union.
Their products can be found at a number of big-name retailers, which bolstered their success. This includes the likes of Hot Topic, Gamestop, Target, and Spencer’s. Pranav and his team set goals with an end in mind which eventually resulted in the global expansion of their offices in Los Angeles, New Delhi, Ohio, London, and Hong Kong.
As a serial entrepreneur, he realizes that it’s integral to play games you understand and deliver beyond customers’ expectations.
With that vision in his heart, his company’s main goal is to create the most innovative product with unmatched quality. “We focus on brainstorming new ideas and being able to translate them to actual products for mainstream retail,” he says.
Just Funky stood the test of time as a premiere manufacturer of licensed and private label merchandise for decades and Pranav feels that there are many reasons for this.
Firstly, it is the warm yet dominant feeling of belongingness. He says, “There’s a certain sense of community that cannot be replicated by other retailers.” It is because of this; his company is able to continuously extend superior and customized services to their clients and customers.
Secondly, he feels that it’s the ability to create thousands of products that set Just Funky apart from its competitors. Later, his team forged ahead to collaborate with some of the world’s largest brands, without sacrificing two key elements: quality and innovation.
These two reasons have also helped the company to be recognized as the ‘Top Consumer Goods Company by Business of Shopping’.
Blazing The Entrepreneurial Trail
It takes forever to build a business and stay the course for years, let alone four decades. Pranav credits this extraordinary success of the brand to the entrepreneurial spirit of his team and loyal customers.
Currently, Pranav serves as the Head of Division at Just Funky. His responsibilities include overseeing all the units and divisions, heading up special projects, and improving B2B and B2C relationships.
Invariably, the entrepreneurial ride up until here wasn’t easy. Pranav recalls his journey to be an exciting one from the very beginning as it had several breakdowns and breakthroughs.
“It comes with its fair share of challenges —something that every entrepreneur goes through,” he says. However, problem-solving is one of his favorite parts of entrepreneurship, so that has taught him a thing or two.
But he doesn’t think there’s anything he would do differently if he were to start over again.
However, there is one thing that he feels he would work on: To accept that not everyone is going to have your back. “That was a difficult realization to have, and I struggled with it a lot at first, so that could have saved me a little grief at the start of my entrepreneurial journey,” he says.
Outside of his professional endeavors, he is an avid philanthropist who supports many causes, including funding education efforts and helping children in need.
He is Chairman of the Board for The Arora Foundation, which provides educational opportunities and resources to underprivileged and marginalized communities, and Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Just Funky Foundation, an award-winning non-profit organization passionate about creating opportunities for students everywhere.
The Best Business Advice
Being successful means learning from people who have already accomplished their dreams. And having a mentor is a blessing to any entrepreneur but not everyone can find one in person.
In case you haven’t found your personal business mentor, here’s one piece of advice that Pranav has for young and aspiring entrepreneurs:
Never give up.
He believes that courage is like a muscle — the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. This is especially useful when there would be days where you would question the outcome of your efforts and not everyone would believe in your vision, including your family and friends. The key to this is to trust the process, put faith in yourself and find a way to overcome the obstacles.
He also feels that entrepreneurship will sometimes make you feel alienated from the rest of the world. “But if you believe in what you’re doing, your hard work and determination will pay off and you’ll be so proud of yourself for not letting anything get in the way of your dreams,” he adds.
A Booming Future
The world is brimming with new ideas, but success comes to those who take action. After finding fortune and success, Pranav is optimistic about Just Funky’s future.
He says, “I think the future is bright. We will continue to onboard new talent everyday which is extremely important for our success.”
Additionally, he is humbled by the immense growth of his brand as it has a growing global presence with offices in Ohio, Boca Raton, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and India, boasting hundreds of employees.
Interestingly, he is also the sole founder of Just Funky’s sister ecommerce company, Stunned Mind, which is on its way to become one of the world’s leading commerce companies.
Besides being a serial entrepreneur, investor, and venture capitalist, he loves to spend his time with family and travel around the world.