Cheap Chinese items have always inspired jokes in India.
But three IIT-BHU graduates — Ravi Jakhar, Rohit Sharma and Aditya Agrawal — are trying to break that age-old myth by providing affordable and quality devices through their Mumbai-based start-up ICE X technology.
The 2004 batchmates, Ravi, Rohit and Aditya floated their company in 2011 with a seed fund of Rs3 crore and a team of six people, which has grown to 20 people. They conceptualised tablet PCs and smartphones, keeping Indian needs in mind and got it manufactured from Shenzhen (China).
Before putting up the products for online sale, the three took all precautions to remove bugs to create quality products. "The first batch of our products came out in the market in 2012. The encouraging response pushed us to innovate more. We are now designing routers, portable charger and other accessories," says Aditya Agrawal who hails from Varanasi and also holds a management degree from IIM Indore.
Aditya, 32, was working with Ernst and Young, Rohit, 31, was running a gaming company and Ravi, 31, was employed at All Cargo till 2011 when they decided to work together after a lot of market research.
They knew that the key lay in innovation and credibility; so, outsourcing the non-core activities would help the business grow faster.
In its first year, ICE X technology clocked a sale of Rs10 crore from its own brand and Rs40crore from other brands. The company signed a three-year contract with Rajasthan Royals in 2013 for their limited edition tablet — ICE extreme pro. The Rs8,000 tablet (5,000 pieces were launched) became a huge hit among youngsters because of its dual core processor, dual sim, 3G calling and a jewellery box like cover that gave it a royal touch.
On quick success Aditya says, "The credit goes to affordable price, our commitment for quality and our own servicing centre. We wanted to break the myth of poor quality of Chinese products. All big companies, including Apple, outsource their manufacturing to China. Our success also says Indians are ready to pay a little more if they get quality product."
Theirs is the only Indian company providing solutions on 3-D printing, wireless charger and 22-language keyboard. Aditya says, "We will soon launch a tablet PC with 22-language keyboard for which we have tied up with an Israeli company. The tablet, which also has a calling facility, will enable users to use any of 22 Indian languages."
Since excise duty on ready devices is less than the components imported so it's always cheaper if we get the products assembled in China.
The company provides online solutions for repair considering the busy schedules of people. Customers can register their complaints and the devices are picked up from their home, repaired at Bhiwandi and delivered back to home for which they have tied up with a courier company. Soon, they will send engineers directly to customers.