The man who managed to transform Micromax around – Rahul Sharma is the CEO and Cofounder of Micromax Informatics. Micromax Informatics is the maker of India’s most selling Mobile phones – Micromax.
The Midas touch that Rahul has brought to the company has only helped it even more to gain an impressive growth to become the 10th largest smartphone vendor in the world.
With his 13 years of experience, he is said to be the actual driving force behind the company who has managed to bring it to this commendable position in the Indian mobile handset market.
But Rahul believes otherwise. Being his true inspiration & hero of his life, he gives his father the complete credit for the success that he has attained today. He says that it was his father who instilled in Rahul a sense of honesty, humility, strong work ethic and sincerity, which led him to achieve and become what he is.
Talking about his qualifications; Rahul holds two undergraduate degrees. The first is of Mechanical Engineering from Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, and the second is his Bachelors in Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
When he is not an entrepreneur, Rahul loves sports and has a passion for fast cars and Formula 1 racing. Additionally, he also likes to spend his free time playing badminton.
And lastly, what has got him nationwide fame and moved him to the Page 3 section of the newspaper is his recent engagement with Bollywood film actress Asin in September 2015.
The Past Life That Led Him To The Present Success…
Although, today Rahul lives in the luxurious Mehrauli suburb and rides in a Rolls-Royce Ghost, but just like most of the most successful people in India, Rahul too had a very humble beginning. He was the son of a school teacher and used to travel using the local transport just like everyone else.
Now there is no detailed information available about his past life, but to give you a gist, in a total, Rahul has more than 13 years experience of working experience in sales and marketing.
With a strong background in product goods and technology marketing; Rahul is widely known to be a genius marketing architect. Apart from his general business and marketing knowledge, Rahul also holds an extensive knowledge of building brands and launching new products.
He has kick-started and led a range of successfully campaigns for global brands like – Procter & Gamble, Microsoft Xbox, Shaw Communication’s on demand television services, etc. Additionally, from February 2004 onwards, Rahul had also worked with Shaw Communications Inc as their Vice President for their On-Demand Television Services.
He was responsible for Corporate Sales and Marketing, and also oversaw the marketing and development of Shaw’s On Demand products such as Pay Per View, Video On Demand and Digital Pay Television. Before he joined Shaw, he had also worked on a range of Management-level roles in Communications, Consumer Marketing and Brand Management as well.
Now for a fact, he knew that this was a vicious circle and he wanted a way out of it. He wanted to do something meaningful, something that would make a difference.
And that is where it all began!
The Chronicles of Micromax…!
It all began when his father gifted Rahul a computer around the end of 90’s. The technology impressed him so much that he decided to launch Micromax Software in 2000 along with three of his friends.
For the first seven years, Micromax evolved many times. Initially it was an IT software company that had begun by offering enterprise-resource training on embedded platforms, which then evolved to selling Public phones (PCO’s) first for Nokia and then for Airtel.
While he was at it; he happened to bump into an incident which changed his life and gave him the idea of the decade.
In 2007, he happened to be in a village called Behrampur in West Bengal which had no power. He was shocked to see an Airtel PCO being powered by a truck battery.
Every night, the PCO owner would drag the battery for 12 kms to a connected to theirs on his cycle, charge the battery there the whole night and then drag it back to Behrampur in the morning.
His interest grew further when he saw that surprisingly, the operator always had a huge line of people to use his payphone and was making a great amount of money as well.
He was stunned to notice the depth of innovation the man had adapted to meet the unchangeable conditions, to drive his business. This opened his mind, and made him realise that – Success only comes to those who dare to dream!
Keeping that in mind, Rahul convinced his other cofounders to change the path of their currently functioning company and decided to transform the company.
And finally in 2008 Micromax shifted their focus to making and selling Mobile phones.
Entry of Micromax Mobile Phones…
The problem was that companies like Nokia and Motorola used to cook in their countries and used to serve in India, but their flavour never suited the Indian requirements.
Hence, in an attempt to solve a pain point, Rahul decided to provide the Indian masses with what they wanted, covering all the basic issues that a common man faces, and at comparatively lower prices.
Having said that, in the same year, Micromax launched their first phone called – ‘The Xtreme’. The beauty of these phones was that, unlike its competitors Micromax’s first phone also had a battery back-up for one whole month.
The first batch was of 10,000 phones. Believe it or not, the whole batch got sold out in a matter of just ten days. This was a great achievement for them. It clearly proved that they were on the right path.
Hence, Rahul quickly began innovating using the ideas that he got through various mediums like – he had noticed that his cook had three SIM cards, and constantly used to swap them, hence, noticing an opportunity, Micromax launched their first Dual-SIM phone, and so on…
In the next couple of years, the company developed and released a range of phones, and by 2010, Micromax was being counted as one of the largest Indian domestic mobile handsets company. In the same year, the company also entered the Tablet market with their Funbook Series as well.
Around the same time, what Rahul came across was although disheartening, but he decided to turn it around into an opportunity. Micromax Devices had gained the reputation of “Chinese phones” a term that we Indians usually refer to as cheap and below standards. To worsen the situation even more, a whole range of copycats had got China-made phones and had stamped them with Indian brand names, including their own.
Hence, to break their stereotype, Rahul played a very smart move and launched their first Smartphone – Canvas A100 in 2012. This phone had a 5-inch screen was sold at a highly reasonable price of Rs. 9,999 ($166), at a time when foreign brands were charging $700.
The market was on fire. People were simply loving them. This literally brought about a revolution in the industry.
Looking at the drastically growing popularity, their R&D lab in Bangalore and their design team in Beijing were also asked roll out new phone models every week as well.
To grow and capture their market even more, they even began with Television Commercials. Bollywood Superstars Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna were one of the first celebrities to endorse the Mobiles.
This was followed by signing of Hollywood’s Wolverine – ‘Hugh Jackman’ as the brand ambassador of Micromax. He had also appeared in the action-pack commercial for their Canvas Turbo A250, Canvas 4 and Canvas Sliver 5 model phones in 2013. In July 2013, even Chitrangada Singh had posed for Canvas 4 smartphone in New Delhi as well.
TRIVIA: – Very few people are aware that every month, Rahul walks into a random mobile phone store in any one of the India’s crowded bazaars, takes off his jacket, poses as a sales agent and sells phones of all brands for the next few hours. While at it, he asks these buyers about their usage habits, features they want or like, and their pain points.
The Shining Present…
In the coming two years i.e. between 2014 and 2015, the company has made significant developments, which has led them on to a path on which they are now not only competing with Domestic but the International bigwigs as well.
The year of 2014 was a complete power-packed one which started off by Micromax becoming the first Indian mobile company to start sales in Russia, by launching their first Octa Core smartphone called Canvas Knight A350.
This was followed by the launch of their Android One smartphone known as Canvas A1, post which the company also initiated the manufacturing of their LED TVs and tablets at their factory in Rudrapur(SIDCUL), Uttarakhand.
While at it, Micromax was also an official Windows Phone 8.1 hardware partner and had launched two Windows Phone handsets in June 2014, which again were priced at very low rates of Rs. 6500 and Rs.9500.
To have an even more strong footing at their home-ground, Micromax also went on to launch a subsidiary called YU Televentures, in collaboration with Cyanogen Inc in December. This was done to target the Chinese rivals, by imitating their flash online sales.
YU Televentures was basically an Indian electronics brand, which offered products like YUreka (The first mobile under this brand ‘YU’), YUphoria (second mobile with same specs as his predecessor YUreka), YUFit (fitness tracking band), YUpix (a portable printer), and jYUice (a powerbank with the capacity of 5000mAh and 10000mAh). YU holds official Cyanogen’s OS rights in India.
Within Micromax’s share, Rahul owns 99.9% in YU Televentures, and the other 0.1% stake is owned by the other two Micromax’s founder Vikas Jain and Sumeet Arora.
And by the end of the year, Micromax as a company had defeated Samsung to become the mobile phone manufacturer shipping the most number of phones in a single quarter in India. During that period, Micromax had sold 4.6 million units and controlled 22% of the overall Indian market.
Moving on the current year; the company has adopted an even more aggressive approach and is in no mood to slow down their pace, given the entry of several Chinese and Taiwanese phone vendors.
Micromax has recently launched Micromax Canvas Sliver 5 in June, which is being said to be as the slimmest phone in the world.
Since the last few years; the company has been growing massively by 39% and have already crossed Rs.10,000 crores mark in terms of revenues.
They are also in preparations to add a Rs. 500 crores manufacturing plant in Alwar district, Rajashtan, post which they will set up their manufacturing plant in Hyderabad at an investment bracket of Rs. 400-500 crores.
Looking at the near future Rahul is in plans to either have five more countries to their present kitty to make up the next 1 billion potential customers, or he needs China. According to him, if the Chinese can come here, why can’t we go there?
The company, which is experiencing an incredible growth, is also looking out for Venture Fund to maintain and sustain the growth. They are already in talks with SoftBank to sell 20% stake at a valuation of $3-5 billion.
Apart from Samsung and other brands, Micromax faces the biggest competition from Xiaomi. But since the company is solidly profitable, they are strongly in a position to deploy a “sizeable war chest” to counter all its rivals.
To add to that, the trump card of Micromax and many other Indian brands like them is their solid distribution network, and a service system that holds the potential to reach the innermost India. The Chinese or any other foreign brand will take years to get that kind of reach.
Talking about investments, the company has raised a total of $88 Million from 4 investors including Madison India Capital, Sandstone Capital, Sequoia Capital and TA Associates. On the other hand, they have also invested an undisclosed amount in Gaana as well.
- Named in Fortune Magazine’s Global Power List of 2014
- Fortune Magazine’s ’40 under 40’ list of 2014
- GQ Man of the Year (Excellence in Business)’ in 2013
- Micromax was listed as the ‘Emerging Company of the Year 2011’ according to India’s leading telecom magazine – Voice & Data.
- Awarded as Forbes Person of the Year 2010