What made you decide to become a web designer?
As a child, I loved to draw, watch cartoons, and loved 3D animations. I studied 3D models, created animated drawings, and used to draw 3D sketches of human bodies. Originally, I wanted to become an animator and work for Hollywood in Pixar or any other movie production company, but I did not have enough financial support to explore this opportunity. So, I chose the next best thing for me, which was a designer.
What made you take the jump from working for somebody to starting Pyxlfox (services-based business) and then more recently KitchonApp (product-based business)?
I worked as a graphic designer for multiple companies over the span of 10-12 years. I did freelancing on the side but when I lost my job due to COVID-19; I made this my full-time job. I wanted to take this opportunity to make a name for myself and create my own branding. I wanted people to know me as Arun Prashad, the founder of Pyxlfox, and not Arun who works for someone else. I think Pyxlfox and KitchonApp have both given me some sort of recognition where people know who I am and what I am capable of.
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Why did you create KitchonApp and what are you hoping it becomes in the next 3-5 years? Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
I created KitchonApp to bring a product-based business during this pandemic. I knew how hard it was for me when I lost my job, and so I wanted to help anyone else who was struggling. The local food industry seemed to be struggling without being able to provide a lot of dine-in services, so I developed KitchonApp to help these businesses. In the next 3-5 years, I hope KitchonApp is something that all restaurants use for their marketing needs, ordering system needs, and POS system needs. New updates are currently being made to make it more compatible with all devices, and easier to use for everyone. I want to be able to provide everything under one name.
In 3-5 years, I want to continue to help the community and the Tamil community learn more about branding, marketing, and building a social presence. I want to build my company and have at least 10-15 employees working under me. Additionally, I want to be able to provide opportunities to new graduates, people looking to grow themselves and their companies, and internships.
What has the impact of social media been on your various ventures?
Without social media, Pyxlfox would not have grown. My friends and family knew I had a company, but that was about it. After I grew my social media presence, ran giveaways, and started collaborating with others who had a social media presence, my ventures became recognized. People began to realize that Arun is the face behind Pyxlfox. With this recognition, I was able to create a logo for an Australian company, so I can proudly say that Pyxlfox is starting to be recognized worldwide.
What would be one piece of advice you would give other entrepreneurs?
This isn’t exactly one piece of advice, but my first advice would be to make mistakes and learn from them. Mistakes allow you to grow. Trying to be perfect all of the time will halt this growth and restrict you from moving forward. Another piece of advice I have is to not compare yourself with others. You do not know what position someone started from, or how much effort they have put in. The only thing you can do is work hard and not give up on making yourself successful.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you in the progression of your career? If not, who would be somebody that you would want as a mentor now?
I didn't really have a mentor that helped in my career progression, but if I wanted someone to be my mentor, I would want Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is a real example that "hard work never fails." He started with nothing and established a huge company that we all know today as Apple. One of my favourite quotes is, "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life." This quote truly inspired me to start my own company and gave me a wake-up call about how working for someone else isn't my passion.
Can you tell us about 1 major win and 1 major loss you’ve experienced so far in your career?
A major win I would say I’ve experienced is that the name Arun and Pyxlfox means something to people. All the hard work and late nights pay off, and it shows with the opportunities I get presented with. A major loss, in my opinion, is time. I wish I could have spent more time working for myself, than for someone else. If I had that time, I think I would have been able to grow myself more. I don’t regret the path I’ve travelled, but sometimes I wonder where I would be if I had started this earlier.
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey? Did you have any doubters?
I felt completely lost after losing my job. I knew I had the skills to do something myself or go find another job, but I didn’t have it in me to do a job search. When I came up with the idea to start Pyxlfox, I first shared it with my wife and she was 1000% supportive. She had more faith and belief in me than I did in myself. She told me always to trust myself, and that I can make the best of the situation if I put my heart into it. There have been many nights when I have been stressed and she always motivated me. She has done her best to try to help me with any project. I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect wife for me and a mother for my children. My parents also supported the idea and gave me their blessings. My friends cheered me on and tried to bring me clients as well. Cucini Catering and Yal Market were one of my first website clients. Appa’s Original was my first client on KitchonApp, and they also allowed me to manage their social media platforms. These clients are not only some of my closest friends, but are also my biggest supporters.
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In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I want to be remembered as a genuine person who works hard for his success. I want people to know that I never worked for the money, but for complete satisfaction and client success. I put my heart and soul into every project and everything I do, and that's what I want people to know.
Who is one person from the global Tamil community and one person who isn’t Tamil that you admire and why?
One person from the global Tamil community that I admire would be Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet Company (Google). Pichai was born in a middle-class family and grew up in a two-bedroom apartment. I admire him because of all the obstacles he faced in his journey; from living in a middle-class family, to becoming the CEO of an influential company, which makes his journey an inspiration for everyone, including myself.
One person who isn’t Tamil that I admire is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, better known as MS Dhoni. Dhoni began his career as a soccer player and made his way into cricket. He is a famous cricketer and captain of the Indian cricket team, who led India to win the World Cup in 2011. Sadly, Dhoni retired in August 2020. He would not have received all this recognition and love if he did not put in hours of rigorous training to be a skilled cricketer; which is what I admire about him.
What is a great business idea that you would be working on if you weren’t focused on your current ventures?
A business venture that I would be working on if I wasn’t a web designer would be having a small restaurant or catering service. To say that I love to cook would be an understatement! I love watching Gordon Ramsay and his videos. I watch the Food Network and a lot of other cooking videos during my spare time, and it is something I want to take up in the future.
What do you think you would tell 16-year-old Arun looking back?
I would tell 16-year-old Arun that the journey and all the pain suffered in the journey is worth it. I don't want to change anything in my journey, but to tell younger Arun that you will make a name for yourself.
What is/are your favourite book(s) you've read recently or a podcast(s) that you've listened to recently that's had an impact on you?
As I mentioned earlier, Steve Jobs and MS Dhoni are two people I admire, so I watched their movies and read their books. Watching the Steve Jobs movie and reading his biography made me feel as if I had a mentor by my side. I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I try to apply in my life. The book, "Captain Cool: MS Dhoni" was an interesting read. It shows the path he travelled to win the world cup, despite all odds. From being clueless about cricket to winning the World Cup for India definitely shows how one person can grow.
What is a new belief, behaviour, or habit that has most improved your life?
A new belief that has most improved my life is the belief I have in myself and the self-confidence I gained. When I worked for someone else, I did not have this as much; but by having this now, I know I can network, make connections and build and maintain relationships with people.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
Honestly, this is hard to answer. To me, the amount of money has never mattered; just the satisfaction. I think I would try to establish Pyxlfox more around the world and help grow creativity worldwide. I also want to focus on giving back to the community by taking part in a variety of initiatives and encourage and support those who want to start new ventures. I used to teach a couple of classes at an institution, and I think I would want to spread knowledge by establishing schools where students can learn without paying and develop their graphic design and creativity skills, especially in developing countries. There is no bigger joy than knowing that you are helping someone else.
How would you describe the impact that the Toronto Tamil community has had on you personally and your business?
Without the Tamil community, I would not have had the opportunities that came to me. When I lost my job, the Tamil community offered me jobs. Some Tamil companies, to name a few, are Bar6ix, Pro-Life Wellness, Cucini Catering, Appa’s Original, Yathavan Selvarajah, and Yal Market. Before I explored reaching out to others, the Tamil community helped me.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
My favourite Tamil food would be Kothu Roti, especially Seafood Kothu Roti.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
I have a lot of favourite Tamil movies, but I think right now my top favourite movie is Soorarai Pottru starring Suriya. This movie shows how hard it is to start something, and the initial joy and happiness when there is some sort of accomplishment. Ajith would be my favourite actor. He started with no connections in the industry and is now one of the top actors that the world knows after being a car mechanic.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
Tamil culture means different things to everyone. The generic definition I think everyone knows and uses to explain Tamil culture is "the expression of the behaviours of Tamils," or something about the different arts, music, food and activities in the Tamil culture. To me, I think that Tamil culture is emotional, and involves a lot of love and respect. We are taught by our parents that we should never give ourselves up, or the struggles that identify us as Tamils, and to love and respect each and every individual; whether they are our parents or a stranger.
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