The Pen is mightier than the sword


Meet Sanay Shah, a 17-year-old with a love for all things vintage and an unprecedented adulation for fountain pens

An ordinary day in the life of a 17-year old would include spending his days in college, hanging out with his friends and studying over the weekends, but Sanay Shah is a different kind all together. Along with pursuing his studies, he is also the owner of a luxury business. Might you ask what kind of ‘luxury’ business could a 17-year-old run; Sanay Shah is the owner of The Penman Co, a company that makes and designs fountain pens.

Sanay Shah

The pen-maker
Most kids are encouraged to begin their induction into writing with pens by using ink or fountain pens. The reason, they offer a steady grip and give room for an individual to develop his own writing style. Sanay Shah too began writing with fountain pens, but has not yet given up on them. Currently studying mechanical engineering at the College of Engineering, Pune – Sanay’s love affair with fountain pens began early on in his childhood. From using them to beautify his writing, Sanay now produces them from nib to design beautifying the product itself.

Fountain might and all that jazz
“Pens are a basic need and are something that will always have a certain charm. They are timeless, and the power of a hand written note is unparalleled,” says Sanay of his love for pens. Sanay is a fountain pen connoisseur in the true sense of the word. So much so that to learn about the art of penmaking, Sanay has travelled to Andhra Pradesh, the heart of the fountain pen industry in the country. He has also made trips to Calicut, Tenali, Hyderabad and Rajahmundry all for the love of learning the craft and enhancing his knowledge about it.

Artisan at work
Each pen is handcrafted by Sanay himself. From installing nibs to fixing the barrels and finally designing the exterior of the pens, Sanay does it all – all painstakingly handmade. It is therefore no surprise why a pen from The Penman Co has a starting price of `6,000. When asked about manufacturing these beauties, he says, “The pens are made by hand on a lathe and drilling machine and the nibs and converters are all imported from Germany.”

Initial investment
An initial investment in any business is extremely important. To get the ball rolling in any kind of business, an investment plays a crucial role. You’d think for a lad of 17, a business investment could have come only from his parents. In Sanay’s case, however, the initial investment didn’t come from his parents, but was a product of his own hard work. “I taught IGCSE and A Level students privately and raised money. I’ve not taken a single penny from my parents.”

Own a fountain pen
Fountain pens are one of those objects that will never go out of style. However, over the years they have been replaced by roller ball and gel pens, and hand-written notes have been replaced by computer-based prints and emails. Yet, Sanay believes that the fountain pen is here to stay. “A fountain pen’s nib adjusts to your hand. More importantly, they aren’t use and throw like most items today.”

The business
“Profit should not be the sole motive. Provide top notch stuff, and charge for it, but ensure quality. My pens have an unlimited warranty,” Sanay advises young businessmen and women who look to him for inspiration. In a day and age when the purpose of any business has become profit, Sanay’s stands out. His love for the art of fountain pen-making has indeed been the sole reason behind its inception. While he has his set of clients whom he sells pens to across the globe, one of the biggest challenges he faces is convincing people about the use and the beauty of a fountain pen.


Famous people you’ve designed pens for
Prem Panicker, Nitin Pai and Sidin Vadukut

Pen-makers you admire
All Indian fountain pens, irrespective of make

Your first investment
I’m waiting to turn 18 and start investing it!

Your inspiration
My granddad

Besides pens, an object you’d like to design


Volume 4 Issue 3


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here