Micromax, the name might ring a bell, once a giant of India and a leading smartphone seller is now finding it hard to keep its feet into the business. However, before learning the rise and the decline let us know a bit about the company and its humble beginnings. Micromax was never a smartphone company or even a phone based company. Micromax was largely a software company known as Micromax Software back in the early 2000s.
Rahul Sharma, one of its co-founders was talking about the beginnings. He said that in 1999 the only thing the world was talking about was the dot-com revolution and the only thing on his mind was software. Micromax Software was doing great for themselves. It had an INR 10 crore annual revenue while it was working with Nokia.
It was working as an M2M partner for the giants from Finland. Micromax Software was their ally on the Indian soil as the company founder Rahul Sharma was then pitched an idea of fixed wireless terminals by one of his Finnish colleagues. This was a technology which allowed to use sim cards in the rural areas where it was impossible for the landline to reach.
This ‘one sim card used by many people’ idea was a great initiative and was exploited by Rahul Sharma and Micromax. This M2M business of Payphones rose to the second position in the whole world. However, Nokia decided to sell this Payphone business. But Rahul Sharma was adamant to stop and continued it further by adding Micromax made terminals and installing them in payphones.
They started off by installing one in Vaishno Devi, which reaped good results. This gave them confidence as Vaishno Devi is one of the most extreme terrains in India. The response after spreading it to the whole country was outstanding. Their turnover went from INR 10 crore annually to INR 100 crore. This was the venture that put Micromax software on the map. However, this was just the beginning.
Micromax Software was not stopping there. Rahul Sharma, once wondering in the northernmost part of India came across a village where Payphone was powered by a truck battery. There was no electricity and the battery was charged from the nearest village which was 11 km away. Sharma then came up with an idea of tapping the phone market.
Phone market in India then was majorly shared by Samsung, Nokia, LG, and Motorola then. His idea when pitched to his peers was not well received as the market was already shared by some of the best companies in the world. However, the company decided to take the risk and they did fare well. Sharma’s idea was easy, to give people what they wanted.
He decided to target the people in rural areas where electricity cuts were on a high. He gave them a phone with a battery which lasted for around three days. The company manufactured 10000 phones but struggled to find a distributor. They had the product ready but no distributor was ready to sell them. The Indian company had to go through a tumultuous process of convincing distributors.
They turned to their existing fixed wireless terminal distributors who also took a lot of convincing before they agreed. Their 10000 Micromax phones were then sold within 10 days with a searing response from the consumers. This was the first taste for Micromax in the phone market. This was just the start, they had a long way to go from here and you will find their journey to the top in the next article.
– Unmesh Phule