Starting with a small shop in Delhi, UBON is today present across 3,000 cities in India
UBON weathered tough times like demonetisation to scale growth in the mobile accessories market and has built a robust distribution network of 100 partners across India.
The mobile accessories industry in India has seen a boom in India over the years. From power banks, mobile chargers to earphones and handsets, there is enormous demand for them. According to a report by research platform Research Nester, the Indian mobile phone accessories market is expected to reach $3.54 billion by the end of 2024.
Mandeep Arora’s father was into the trading of mobile accessories such as earphones for walkmans in one of Delhi’s oldest and biggest markets, Lajpat Rai Market. Mandeep joined the wholesale business in 1998 and noticed a lot of gaps in the electronics industry.
The quality of electronic products in the market was low when compared to the prices at which they were being sold. Working with his father gave him extensive knowledge, experience, and insight into the industry.
In 2004, Mandeep, his father Om Prakash Arora, and his brother Lalit Arora co-founded a mobile accessories company, UBON in Delhi.
Mandeep did not disclose the turnover of UBON but adds that they are aiming to reach Rs 1,000 crore in the next three years and want to achieve 20-25 percent growth every year.
SMBStory spoke to Mandeep about the business and why he believes demonetisation was worse than coronavirus.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory (SMBS): What were the difficult moments in your journey of setting up the business and then running it?
Mandeep Arora (MA): Initially, a lot of things were challenging, whether it was driving sales, expanding business, or even finding the right channel partners. But today, we have an established structure. When we started out, India’s electronic industry was at a very nascent stage.
So, even finding good quality and right raw materials was a big challenge. Initially, the majority of our raw materials used to come from China, but gradually, we stopped importing them. Today, we are making 99 percent of the products in-house. We are only importing the pin of the USB cable from China as of now.
Having said that, the toughest time for us was during demonetisation. We are the kind of a company which doesn’t give credit. Back then, people did not have money to give us and we were in a huge crisis. It was like a nightmare. We couldn’t believe that something like that could ever happen. We were all very clueless.
Coronavirus scare has lesser impact on our business when compared to demonetisation. During coronavirus spread, at least we have time to prepare ourselves. During demonetisation, we could not take note of the situation. Gradually, we took steps and found our way back.
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SMBS: Where have you set up your factories?
MA: We have two manufacturing units in Delhi and Noida. We are planning to open a third one soon to manufacture bluetooth speakers.
SMBS: Tell us something about your online and offline presence?
MA: From a small wholesale shop in Lajpat Rai Market to opening an exclusive showroom in Karol Bagh’s Tip Top Market recently, I think we have come a long way. Moreover, today we are present in 3,000 cities of India through offline presence.
We have been producing chargers, power banks and data cables and screen guards since 2014. We have worked hard to create such a robust distribution network with more than 100 partners, suppliers, retailers and much more pan-India.
We also opened another store in Lajpat Rai Market. In addition, we are also present on Amazon, Flipkart and Instagram for online selling.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
MA: This industry is at a nascent stage right now. But it is going to be huge in the coming years. A lot of entrepreneurs are entering this space because it has so much scope.
Despite our strong consumer base, we believe that we have been able to utilise only one percent of our potential and that we have a long way to go. So, we are planning to diversify and expand.
For instance, considering the hectic lifestyle of today’s youth, we are exploring innovative products to help people stay fit. We’re working on designing and developing smartwatches, fitness trackers, and virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.
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SMBS: Now that coronavirus has shifted focus of the world from China, which is the largest exporter of raw materials, how can India leverage this opportunity?
MA: This situation is a blessing in disguise for India. A lot of companies from the US are coming to us for samples of raw materials because they don’t want to import from China anymore.
So, we have sent them samples of power banks, cables, chargers and earphones that we have manufactured. I think this is an opportunity that we must leverage at all costs.
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)
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