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Sudhir Hasija-The Upwardly Mobile Entrepreneur


wealthymatters.comSudhir Hasija is the chairman of the Rs 1200 crore homegrown handset maker Karbonn Mobiles.Here is a link to the company’s website:http://www.karbonnmobiles.com/.

His story will tell you how a person with few means can get into wholesaling and then into manufacturing.So for all would- be industrialists here is his story:

55 year old Sudhir Hasija, is the son of a government clerk. He left his home in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, after clearing his Class 10 exams. He then moved to Hyderabad where he spent three years in a machine tools company and saved around Rs 3,000. He used this money to set up a business selling TV accessories such as antennas and trolleys in Chennai. It was a difficult struggle. He would climb to the rooftops of buildings bare footed in the scorching heat to install antennas. He used to wash at railway stations and stay in low-cost lodges. However he persisted and managed to built a thriving business that he expanded across other southern cities. 

In 1996, when the pager and mobile phone revolution first started in Karnataka, Hasija bagged a lucrative contract to become the telecom hardware distributor for Alcatel-Lucent SA , France’s largest telecommunications equipment maker. Soon he ended up as a distributor for Nokia, the world’s largest handset-maker. He remained their distributor till 2003. As more global firms started to tap India’s booming telecom market, Hasija got another opportunity from Samsung Electronics Co , the world’s biggest television maker to become their distributor for entire South India.Within 6 months Samsung made him distributor for the entire country.

Then 3 years back when many Indian companies started to make their own handsets to tap the country’s booming mobile handset market, Hasija too jumped in. He gave up Samsung in 2009 to start his own mobile phone brand Karbonn. As he puts it,”I thought of building my own home, rather than living in a rented house. I had enough experience to take the risk and my children had also grown up.”Hasija founded Karbonn as a joint venture between his Bangalore-based distributing firm United Telelinks and Delhi-based Jaina group run by his long-time friend Pradeep Jain, who was also a distributor of mobile phones.

From its 2009 beginnings in an old office block in Bangalore with Hasija’s savings and a 100 crore capital from IDBI bank, Karbonn now has a market share of 4.5% in India. The mobile handset industry in the country was valued at Rs 3,200 crore in November 2010.Excluding the grey market,120 million handsets were sold in India in 2010. Hasija now sells over six lakh phones in a month.This is how Hasija explains his success:”I understood the psyche of Indian population such as value for money and attraction towards innovation.” Karbonn made its debut with phones, which could hold two SIM cards that allowed the use of two services without the need to carry two phones at the same time.They were also designed to have a longer battery life, a real draw in areas with irregular power supply. This innovation and low pricing clicked for Karbonn. After sales service and visibility even in rural areas helped Karbonn crack not only the the urban market but also penetrate the rural markets, which were untapped.

India’s mobile phone market expected to grow by nearly a fifth over the next five years.   Karbonn hopes to ride this wave of consumer demand.However there are challenges to be faced.Karbonn is not the only home-grown mobile phone maker.There are others like Micromax giving it competition.In fact the very success story of Karbonn attracts new entrepreneurs to the market.

Also as Karbonn expands any flaw in the quality of service, distribution channel and post-sales service will mean a drop in growth.These days it doesn’t matter if the brand is foreign or Indian, customers are now agnostic to brands .Consider the fate of Nokia, which once held a 72% share of the Indian mobile handset market!

Moreover technology evolves fast.It is now a challenge to stay afloat in a market where newer communication devices pop up with metronomic regularity. To deal with the challenge Hasija is in final-stage talks to buy a South Korean cellphone design house in an all-cash deal of about $40 million. The deal will be financed with a portion of the $250 million that Karbonn expects to garner from private equity firms . The 150-member  the Korean design-house will closely work with Karbonn’s team of software developers in Bangalore. Handsets designed by the Korean firm will be tested at Karbonn’s Bangalore software development facility before being shipped overseas. Karbonn plans on targeting not just the Indian markets with these phones but also other emerging markets in Africa and Latin America.Also later in the year the company plans on  releasing a line of low-cost tablets to compete with Apple’s iconic iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab but priced at half to one-fourth of what the global majors sell at.With the launch of the new line of tablets the company will be competing on full terms with the multinational majors.  A start-up challenging major manufacturers was not possible 10-15 years ago but now entrepreneurs with access to technology need to only understand customer need, manage the supply chain, identify good vendors and maintain quality to successfully do so.And entrepreneurs like Sudhir Hasija show us how.

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About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

24 Responses to Sudhir Hasija-The Upwardly Mobile Entrepreneur

  1. VIKRANT RAI says:

    Hi
    Never buy karbonn handset very poor service center and customer care response I have buy karbonn mobiles and after 1 month there is touch pad problem then I have submitted Mobile for repairing it’s almost 5 months gone still I didn’t get any resolution from customers care

  2. mdshahadalam says:

    dear
    jab se hanset maine liya suru complain chal raha hai .aur is sab sara jimmer service team aur consundepartment hai .service hame phir se jaan bhugh kar hanset khrab mobile diya hai
    ye mobile kisi aur waikti yani maharastra ke abhay naam se hame mobile diya hai mobile khrab diya hai ye sab serviceteam ka sajish hai isse pehle bluetooth khrab diya aur mobile khrab
    mobile mei no 911123209319183, 911123209319191 arjit tondon hame khrab mobile diya hai
    mera pehle imei 911123206065805

  3. Alok Uniyal says:

    His story is quite interesting. Hope he improves on customer satisfaction for the company growth.

  4. RPS Yadav says:

    i have done a blunder mistake by purchasing Karbonn A26 mobile. i purchased it from my city Rajpura from bansal telecom vide bill no 1970 dated 2-1-2014 IMEI no 911322101495725. The copy of the bill is attached with this mail.. It was mistake because after one month its speaker got faulty and i went to the shopkeeper for repair as it was in warranty. I went to him because there is no Karbonn service center in Rajpura. However he got it rectified within two days. it was working ok then.
    Now on 10th june it again got malfunctioned, now its speaker, mic and got faulty. i went to Bansal telecom for repair, this time he asked me to get it repair from service center at Patiala, as it will be repaired fast if you go directly there.
    i went to Singla communicators Sco 65, New leela Bhawan patiala for repair.But i was shocked as he refused to repair it saying that it is tampered. I told him that i did not know about it and i have not gone to any other person for repair. and why should i go to anyone as my set was under warranty. But he did not listen to me and he has not accepted my phone for repair.
    Now sir, is this the service and support of a company that want to grow like Karbonn mobiles. With this type of service Nobody would like to buy these mobiles and even the customers will have a very bad impression about the company. If a company provides good services like Nokia and Samsung, their customers do Marketing on behalf of the company by telling others that he has purchased a good value Mobile. And the customers of karbonn will do negative marketing.

    But at present i just want that my mobile set may be repaired in Warranty as it is still in Warranty so that i may not lost the faith in Karbonn. Which has a great potential in Mobile sector by providing best and also cheap mobiles in the world with best support and services

    I am enclosing the copy of original bill of my mobile handset .

    Thanks and regards
    RPS yadav
    561 Dalima Vihar Rajpura
    contact no 9417704200

  5. S M N Azmi says:

    I cogratulate Mr sudhir Hasija working with the team of so inefficient peoples at karbonn mobiles who are repairing my A29 Karbonn mobile around three months old for the last three months and not returning me my mobile,still launching new products.Please have pity on poor customers on whom support success will be at your doorstep.Please tell me the contact details of a person in the company if byou can who can help me

  6. I never expected such a dull response from the company like you who haven`t response the customer after selling their phones . My case is pending from last 1.5 months and there is no revert received from your side regarding this please Look into this matter as soon as possible otherwise I obliged to take a legal action against your company . it`s totally ridiculous . I`ll suggest all my friend not to buy any mobile of your company . I m writing you last time regarding this next time i`ll file a sue in consumer court for not been taking care of my issue . Below are the details of my product . I`m also attaching the job sheet of your service center .

    Model-Titanium S5
    IMEI -911309353201174

  7. mahesh says:

    karbonn service is too poor kindly look into the matter as many consumer having a problem with poor service………………………………..help

  8. Prince Arora says:

    I want to address you about something. Please provide me your email Id. I do not want to publish it globally.

  9. saravanan says:

    Great Man!!!

  10. Anindya Ghosh says:

    Hi, Sir, Its great to read the story wich you have told me about your early days of sruggle.
    Its allways give us inspiration for the future – I wish you all the best Sir……Anindya Ghosh(West Bengal) Kolkata-

  11. i KNOW MR.SUDHIR FOR LAST 25 YEARS AND I KNOW HIS CAPABILITIES AND HIS STYLE OF WORKING.ALWAYS IN CHEERING MOOD.GOD BLESS HIM

  12. Anjan Chatterjee says:

    Hi Sudhir, It is a great job started, Wishing you all the Best & all success, in your efforts.

  13. Hard work and dedication always pays.

  14. Kayleen says:

    Interesting story.Very gritty man!

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