We want to build the Apple of India: Smartron founder
By Express News Service | Published: 18th June 2017 12:28 AM |
Becoming a technology OEM is not an easy task, especially not in India. But, Mahesh Lingareddy, founder and chairman, Smartron has a plan. Excerpts from a conversation with Jonathan Ananda:
What is the Genesis of Smartron?
India does not have a big technology OEM brand. We looked and the product ecosystem, at Chinese firms and realised there are no product oriented Indian firms. India’s tech firms only provide labour or skill as a service, which is the reason why they struggle today. Chinese might have begun by manufacturing cheap knock-offs, but they evolved into making their own products. Indian firms have not.
This is where Smartron came from -- a desire to create an Indian technology OEM firm. We want to build an Apple or a Samsung of India.
Why do you think India hasn’t produced big brands in tech hardware yet? How will Smartron manage this?
We have invested a lot of effort in R&D. In fact, after we were founded, we spent the first two years on R&D. Other Indian firms go overseas to acquire their product designs, which is why they cannot compete with China. We are focused on our own research, in Artificial intelligence, IoT etc.
How are you planning to take on your competitors?
We have developed what, for us, will be our Windows. Tronx is a platform that will intergrate all our devices, form an ecosystem where some very unique experiences will be provided. When a customer buys a device, be it a phone or a laptop or a werable, they are not just getting the device. They get on Tronx.
Recently, we formed a partnership with Eros Entertainment for content and that is just the beginning.
How will your devices be positioned and when are the launches scheduled?
We have already launched a few devices -- the tphone, tbook and the srt.phone. While we are positioning our brand as a premium one in terms of quality and customer experiences, since our R&D facilities are in India, we can provide products at 60 or 70 per cent of the cost as an Apple or a Samsung. So our prices will be in the mid-to-premium range. We will also release devices like the srt.phone which is priced at Rs 13,999.
This fiscal is the big year, with eight to ten launches scheduled. We are investing close to Rs 250 crore this year and expect to sell around 10 lakh devices.
Our investors span the US, the middle east and India mainly, including Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Jha.