“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
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?
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