Calling villages the ‘real India’, Britzo plans to unleash low-price smartphones for the rural populationSampath Putrevu
Britzo’s founders shared a dream to empower rural India with an affordable way of keeping in touch and staying connected.
Founders: Pradipto Ganguly, Dharamvir Shaw
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Noida
The problem it solves: Makes low-cost smartphones for users in Tier-III, IV, V cities
Sector: Mobile phones
Funding raised: Bootstrapped (Undisclosed)
"The future of India lies in its villages," the Father of the Nation had said. What adds weight to Mahatma Gandhi’s words is the ongoing digitisation that has swept the nation, and, no, unlike earlier periods of innovations in the country, the hinterlands are not left behind this time.
At the start of the Digital Age, innovative offerings were developed and targeted at urban markets, and would eventually trickle down to the rural population over a course of time. But startups like Britzo are now betting on a complete reversal of the status quo, and are engaging with the rural population, which presents a huge opportunity.
Founders Pradipto Ganguly and Dharamvir Shah are confident that their continuous efforts will prove that this feat is possible. With that, the duo is launching Britzo officially on April 17, 2018.
Britzo is a communications brand and the latest entrant in the Indian mobile phone market, which claims to be leveraging on its in-house innovations in ICT (Information and Communication Technology), to offer a technologically evolved alternative to feature phones.
Its smart range of products is targeted at and designed for consumers in Tier-III, IV, and V markets. Their mission statement - 'Provide mobile phone for every Indian at a price and quality that brings a smile to them.’
What sparked Britzo?
Pradipto has a 19-year track record in leading diverse roles that required him to spearhead high-level transformations for across-the-board processes. He was a core team member of Samsung and TECNO Mobile and played a pivotal role for the companies at their crucial growth stages, something that helped them achieve their current market positions.
An economist by education, he is an analytical decision-maker, a strategic thinker and a technology enthusiast with an interest in social responsibility.
Dharamvir was born and raised in Kolkata. He holds a Master’s degree in Marketing and has honed his skills in sales and distribution by working for over 15 years with global giants including Nestle, Motorola, Samsung, Gionee, and TECNO Mobile.
"With the launch of Britzo, our objective was to bring this rural mass online and deliver superlative smartphone offerings to them. Our complete focus is to drive digital enablement across the 'real india' and offer an evolved and smart alternative with greater functionality when compared with feature phones."
Britzo was incorporated in December 2017. The team has not launched its product offerings as of now, which they will as per their product roll-out schedule. It aims to acquire its first set of customers by extending them technologically evolved alternatives to feature phones at a cost-effective price point by leveraging their in-house innovations in ICT (Information and Communication Technology).
"Apart from our innovation in product, we have also on-boarded the finest talent with an accumulated experience of more than 200 man-years in the handset industry," he says.
Britzo says it has a service presence of 200 direct/indirect channel partners and 20,000 retailers, in addition to more than 900 service centres on a pan-India level. Its end-to-end product offerings come with a 201-day replacement warranty, on top of the 12+3 months product warranty from the date of purchase.
Its manufacturing facilities have been reportedly certified with ISO 9001:2015 for quality management and they incorporate more than 20 quality control (QC) methods (including automated and manual QCs) to ensure quality standards higher than the national average.
Pradipto calls Noida-based Britzo a company without hierarchy. He says,
"The brand, moreover, has market research-driven inline QC and individual QC checking in place. We have deployed specialised testing teams for software and hardware quality checking. We aim to secure 3 percent of market share in the Indian mobile phone segment by the end of FY 2018-19."
It envisions achieving this goal by establishing its product iVVO’s market presence across 17 states including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Northeast and Assam, and Gujarat during the first phase of its expansion.
The company will target other regional markets across India after Q1 of FY2018-19. Britzo intends to invest Rs 100 crore on indigenous development of products towards the Make in India initiative. It has tied-up with 25,000 E-Seva Kendras to ensure service availability in tier-5 regions.
The secret ingredient
Pradipto describes his handsets as new-era smart feature phones that are developed through extensive research with regard to Indian masses and the prevailing challenges.
He opined that the unique selling points of Britzo are its human assets, competitive product range with innovative features, extensive distribution partners, and seamless after-sales services.
"We envision enabling convenient access to customers across the socio-economic spectrum. The price range starts at Rs 700 and will bring about a smarter experience with customised Operating Software (OS) that gives our customers access to smartphone-like applications."
The team is now banking on the traditional model of channel distribution. They put their faith in the model of 4-tiered channel distribution.
Super Distributor -> Distributor -> Retailer -> End Consumer
"We are also contemplating partnering with a major online player that has the greatest penetration across rural geographies in India," he said.
Employee to an entrepreneur
Pradipto calls his friends and family his backbone and without their constant support, this would not have been possible.
"The shift from an employee to an entrepreneur in itself was an exciting experience. It is not easy to follow a dream by setting aside a secure and comfortable job. After realising where my life’s true calling was, I had to win over my family and friends to believe in me and my dream."
The next challenging yet fascinating experience for him was getting his first few team members onboard and convincing them to share the same vision in achieving this dream. For the first few days, the team worked from Pradipto's residential pad, ideating round the clock. Then channel partners came into the picture.
The duo and their team were extremely cautious in choosing them as they were the first touch points for the veritable 'king', the end-customer, they intended to serve.
"After 19 years of my professional journey, the passion that I feel for the brand Britzo is an intense and indescribable one. It’s something like falling in love again," he prides.
Talking about the future, Pradipto says that they have started working on 4G feature phones as well as affordable smartphones and by 2019, the company intends to enter the connected devices market.
In terms of partnerships, Britzo is now in talks with operators for better consumer offerings. By the end of 2019, diversifying into smart consumer appliances is what the team is aiming at.
Having A/B tested his career with engineering, sales, writing, and product management, Sampath now executes a callback function for a second stint with YourStory. Loves to eat, learn, write, travel, and take photographs. Often spotted consuming lethal doses of Dosa on the main roads of Bangalore. Tweet to him at @sampathptrvu.