Perseverance is Key to Success, Says DataWind CEO

Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli is passionate about devotion to his Gurus as well as for the technology to change lives.

Published: 02nd May 2016 04:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd May 2016 11:04 AM   |  A+A-

Perseverance is

Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli is passionate about devotion to his Sikh Gurus as well as for the technology that can change lives. In a freewheeling interview he tells M.Rajendran that the youth of today needs perseverance as it is the key to his and their success. Excerpts

How has been the journey so far?

I was born in India, but left for Iran when I was eight years, there was revolution when I was 11 and we went to Canada. I supported a rural school in India and introduced internet, in 1995. But I realised that computer lab was not the way and people need to have their own device. My brother developed a technology that can offer high speed internet in low bandwidth. He has 18 patents on them. In 2003, I made first presentation to IT secretary of Punjab. I pitched my product and service as internet for masses. I did not make much progress. I made presentation at every level of the government, state and Centre. In 2010, Nicholas Negroponte came up with $100 Laptop in Davos and raised $200 million and got order of 10 million units. In India, he was asked to offer the Laptop for $30-40. Now, the environment was ripe for us. Tender was floated by IIT in Rajasthan for 1 lakh units and we won it. The journey had begun for me.

What was the impact on your business?

I got a good customer and global attention. We launched portable devices. One single order was double my annual volume, it had huge additional production. IIT Mumbai was given the products, they issued the completion certificate. After a tough year in 2011, as we were focused on this project, we saw the huge opportunity in commercial market. Tablets market in India in 2011 was 2.5 lakh units today it is 50 lakh units. We have placed about 27 lakh units in the market. Last quarter IDC showed as at 23% market share and in below Rs 5,000 units we held 58% market share. In 2011-12 end we had about Rs 1 crore revenue in 2016 March 31, we are close to Rs 300 crore revenue from India.

Where does the revenue and business in India go from here?

We are targeting Rs 500 crore revenue in 2016-17. From just eight employees in 2011, we are now 1100 employees. The overall market is stagnant, but the sub Rs 5000 segment is growing from 20% of the market it is now 40% of the market. Over 100 crore people in India need internet and computing devices.

So what is next?

 Telecom Commission has approved a policy for virtual network operator and that gives us an opportunity to offer our or any other devices bundled with one year of internet browsing for about Rs 100.

Who inspired you in this journey?

Faith and teachings of Sikh Gurus. Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak. My older brother and father have been great mentors and have inspired me.

What is your message for youth?

Life is not about money. Sometime it is easy to get and sometime difficult. It is about the value and benefit you are delivering to the society. It always takes longer and difficult than you would have imagined. Many people give up too early. It is all about perseverance. It was too easy to have walked away and too easy to fail. Look at your work with passion. Don’t hire people who cannot tell you where they will be 10 years from now.


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