The telecom market in India is a highly competitive market driven by regulatory challenges and issues. Delivering complex services and providing a consistently higher level of customer service across wide geographical areas is one of the major challenges that telecom companies face today. The Indian market is highly value-driven and price sensitive, telecom companies are in continuous pressure to deliver new services while improving customer experience and loyalty. Here, we talk to Rajiv Mohan Gandhi, co- founder, MobileComm India, the Indian arm of MobileComm Professionals, about the Indian telecom sector and his entrepreneurial journey till date.
How did the idea of becoming an entrepreneur strike your mind?
Being an entrepreneur is all about following your passion with determination. Despite being born and brought up in an entrepreneurial family, I found technology first and entrepreneurship later when the time was right. Infact, I was the only black sheep in my family, with a bend towards technical stuff.
My first job was with Infocom, an IT venture where I was responsible for system integration followed by a shift to telecom industry at the time when the first GSM call was made in India. My stint with telecom companies like Escotel, Lucent, Motorala, Essar, and NSN during my early years was the perfect ground to prepare me for my entrepreneurship journey. It was finally in 2008, I took the plunge to start MobileComm Technologies in India.
You have spent a considerable amount of time in the mobile segment around the world. How different is the Indian market?
Indian telecom market is very different compared to other markets. It is very price sensitive and characterized by high volume and low margins. Indian customers are value-driven unlike customers in other nations and make sure they are getting the best deal. As a result there is continuous pressure to deliver projects within timelines without compromising on quality.
The ongoing uncertainty in the Indian telecom market is a temporary phase that will slowly get settled and there are some expectations of revival in 2013. But the good news is that despite competition, uncertainty, which companies fear would reduce their growth – we are still going strong.
How has Mobilecomm evolved since you started in India?
Mobilecomm in India started in 2008 with two people – me and our co-founder Rishi Nandwana who is also our Chief Technical Officer. While in NSN and Motorola, there was a trend towards managed services which requires a large pool of trained talent and there was a huge talent crunch in the telecom sector. To develop the right set of skills for telecom, we need to grow and nurture people gradually. Thus, to bridge this academia – industry gap, we came up with specialized telecom learning program for students that proved to be a huge success with 100% absorption of trained resources in the industry.
Although MobileComm India was conceived as a telecom training company, our collective experience in varied fields and technologies has helped us provide value added solutions to our clients. Thus, today our business model has transformed from just learning services to full-fledged wireless engineering services with the strength of 250+ employees spanning India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
As we built relationships around the world and here at home, we have leveraged our position by expanding into services like RF engineering services, Wi-Fi services, In-building services, transport services and telecom software development.
How have you expanded in India? What are the demographics of your audience?
2009 was the year of our expansion in India as well as addition of RF engineering vertical in our services spectrum. Consequently, we evolved from a pure training company to a key industry player in the wireless services arena. We started taking turnkey projects in RF planning & optimization for Indian telecom giants. As a competence delivery partner, we conducted telecom trainings for telecommunication equipment manufacturers, service providers, and management consulting firms. Currently, within India we operate from our headquarters in Gurgaon with project offices in Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Assansol, J&K, Bhopal, Indore and Jaipur.
Our client group includes companies like Nokia Siemens Network, Ericsson, Huawei, Vodafone, Idea, Bharti, IndusTowers and AmericanTower across north, south, east and west India. Internationally, we extend our expert services to 50+ clients spread across Africa, Middle East, America and Australia.
What is your advice to people who think of starting up in such large domains?
My number one tip to all the would-be entrepreneurs is - be focused. Start something where you’ve competencies and become the expert in that. Failure will knock you down at times, but persistence is the key. Get up and fight on. Never ever leave what you’re passionate about, since it is your passion that’ll drive you on your entrepreneurial journey and make you a brand.
Rajiv is optimistic that 2013 will bring with it a slew of opportunities for Indian telecom industry.