“Our first mile­stone will be to sell one mil­lion de­vices a month”

Sud­hir Ku­mar, CEO, itel In­dia in an in­ter­view with DQ Chan­nels re­veals the strate­gies of itel to ex­pand in In­dia

DQ Channels - - Front Page - Sud­hir Ku­mar, CEO, itel In­dia

Please tell us about your back­ground. I have over 18 years of in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence and have been in­stru­men­tal in trans­form­ing the IT and tele­com busi­ness to a sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue driver in his pre­vi­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions. I joined itel In­dia as CEO from Jan­uary, 2016.

Be­fore join­ing itel, I was re­spon­si­ble for driv­ing the strat­egy and ex­pand­ing the prod­uct port­fo­lio that in­cluded Mo­bile de­vices and IOT prod­uct lines. I joined In­tex in 2001 af­ter a two-year stint as a Project man­ager with a soft­ware com­pany Ramtek Cor­po­ra­tion Ltd. Hav­ing been with In­tex for more than 15 years, I was in­volved in iden­ti­fy­ing new chan­nel part­ner­ships and strength­en­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion net­work.

Can you briefly dis­cuss the work of itel In­dia, as they are just be­gin­ning to es­tab­lish them­selves in In­dia?

At the mo­ment this is a com­pany of 200 peo­ple. We plan to hire more peo­ple and by Di­wali we aim to have 1000 peo­ple. This is a group com­pany of Trans­sion Hold­ings con­glom­er­ate. It’s a multi-brand com­pany. Their brands in­clude itel, Tecno, In­finix. The com­pany is op­er­at­ing in more than 40 coun­tries world­wide. It cov­ers more than 50% of the African coun­tries and holds 35-45% of the African mar­ket share.

itel was es­tab­lished in 2007 out­side In­dia. Trans­sion Hold­ings con­glom­er­ate is the largest man­u­fac­turer of fea­ture phones. In­finix is their on­line in­ter­face, Tecno is their pre­mium prod­uct and itel caters to the masses.

Please tell us some­thing about what brands you see as your ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion and how you plan to face their com­pe­ti­tion. In­dia is a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket and the do­mes­tic con­sump­tion is huge here. There are more than 200 mil­lion de­vices sold monthly and this mar­ket is grow­ing. The launch of itel mo­bile will de­light In­dian con­sumers, who will now have ac­cess to itel’s high-per­for­mance, qual­ity-as­sured mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions, in or­der to ful­fil their mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity as­pi­ra­tions.

We are con­fi­dent that itel will emerge as the per­fect en­abler to drive the ru­ral and semi­ur­ban In­dian con­sumers onto a dig­i­tal plat­form and to pro­vide af­ford­able yet fea­ture-driven mo­bile phones for the aspir­ing In­dian con­sumers across ge­ogra­phies and so­cial classes.

Per­haps brands such as iPhone, Sam­sung, Sony, LG etc. will be your ma­jor com­peti­tors. How do you plan to strate­gise against them?

In­dia has emerged as a key ge­og­ra­phy for any global play­ers and ev­ery player has their own tar­get seg­ment. We be­lieve that the mo­bile ecosys­tem in In­dia is ripe for dis­rup­tion and that in­tro­duc­ing our brand itel would re­de­fine the level of qual­ity cost-ef­fec­tive of­fer­ings in the coun­try, which is the pri­or­ity ir­re­spec­tive of how the com­pe­ti­tions are mov­ing. Also, the brands men­tioned are all pre­mium prod­ucts of­fer­ings and we do not fall into the same cat­e­gory.

So, does this mean that your most ma­jor com­peti­tor will be Mi­cro­max?

Yes.

How do you plan to face the com­pe­ti­tion from Mi­cro­max?

itel has its own man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­ply fa­cil­ity. We are go­ing to pro­duce the phones in-house. We aim to pro­vide to the cus­tomers a ma­ture and sta­ble prod­uct, which is added with value and loaded with fea­tures and user­friendly. We aim to of­fer bet­ter qual­ity in the same price range as other In­dian brands. Our prod­ucts will cre­ate their own bench­mark with less or no com­pe­ti­tion in fu­ture

How do you plan to ex­pand your prod­uct in In­dia?

We aim to ex­pand all over In­dia. In the first phase we are work­ing at ex­pand­ing in 11 states of North In­dia, in­clud­ing Bi­har and Jhark­hand.

Do you plan to ex­pand in smaller towns and ru­ral ar­eas or would you just stick to big­ger cities?

We want to ex­pand in small as well as big cities and in ru­ral ar­eas. For this we are re­cruit­ing a com­mit­ted team com­pris­ing of lo­cal peo­ple, who are sons of soil, who know the small towns and ru­ral ar­eas, un­der­stand the ge­og­ra­phy and cul­ture and the mar­ket in these ar­eas.

I read in your pro­file that you be­long to Jhark­hand. You know, in states such as Bi­har and Jhark­hand there is a lack of ba­sic ameni­ties. For ex­am­ple, they have long hours of power cuts. We need elec­tric­ity to charge the bat­tery of our phones. More­over there is a prob­lem of con­nec­tiv­ity in these ar­eas. Are you do­ing any­thing to tackle these is­sues such as ne­go­ti­at­ing with the gov­ern­ment etc?

That’s a very good ques­tion you have asked. As a per­son be­long­ing to Jhark­hand I would say that you are very right about these prob­lems. But now the sit­u­a­tion is im­prov­ing. The power cuts are de­creas­ing. More­over, TRAI reg­u­la­tion is very strict now. They are pe­nal­is­ing the tele­com ser­vice providers for call drops. So with time there will be a more im­proved sit­u­a­tion in these states.

What is your ad­van­tage over Mi­cro­max?

We are giv­ing bet­ter qual­ity. For ex­am­ple, if com­pe­ti­tion is giv­ing a bat­tery of 1800 mAh. We are giv­ing 2500 mAh bat­tery at the same price point.

How do you fore­see your prospects in In­dia?

Our first mile­stone would be to sell one mil­lion de­vices a month. We also in­tend to man­u­fac­ture in In­dia and ex­port to other coun­tries. Our fo­cus is on qual­ity of prod­uct and the brand of the com­pany.

Is that a part of the Make in In­dia project?

Yes, cer­tainly. We are plan­ning to con­trib­ute to the In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s Make in In­dia scheme by set­ting up man­u­fac­tur­ing units in In­dia. We are look­ing for­ward to es­tab­lish 1000 ser­vice cen­tres across In­dia to en­able high-level of cus­tomer-cen­tric ser­vice for its users across the coun­try.

SUD­HIR KU­MAR, CEO, itel In­dia

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