Moving from Jalore to Mumbai for odd jobs, how this entrepreneur built a mobile accessories brand for new India
Nilesh Mali started KDM India in 2011. Today, the company is one of India’s leading manufacturers of affordable mobile accessories, clocking a Rs 30 crore annual turnover.
Thursday November 25, 2021,
4 min Read
Nilesh Mali started his first job at the age of 18 years when he moved to Mumbai from Jalore, a district in Rajasthan famous for the Marwari horse breed. With dreams of achieving something big in his life, Nilesh took up odd jobs in retail shops in the early 2000s. He then moved to other electronic goods such as selling walkmans and radio.
Almost two decades later, Nilesh is running a company with an annual turnover of Rs 30 crore. According to the founder, the company, 2011-founded KDM India, gives a lifestyle choice to people living in tier 2 and 3 cities.
India manufactures affordable mobile chargers, earphones, speakers, neck bands among others.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Nilesh says, “I come from a very small town but when I came to Mumbai to find work, I had very big dreams. I struggled for days and took up a lot of small jobs to earn money. I still remember the day when my friend suggested trading mobile accessories as they were hot selling then and that changed my life.”
KDM India now makes 200 SKUs (stock-keeping units) and has a distribution network pan India.
From rags to riches
After taking up multiple jobs to earn money and feed himself in the city of dreams, Nilesh started working as a salesman to sell walkmans and radios back when these products were in demand. By this time, Nilesh had been in the city for two to three years. The early 2000s were also a time when India was changing rapidly. Nilesh’s friend guided him towards trading in mobile accessories, primarily chargers, as mobile usage was seeing traction.
Nilesh took the trading route and contacted wholesalers to start selling mobile batteries. The business took off well after which he worked upon expanding the portfolio.
“I ran the same business for two years and in 2008 for the first time in life boarded a flight to visit China. I contacted the manufacturers there to directly procure products from them and enter the wholesale market.” Nilesh tells SMBStory.
However, Nilesh wasn’t satisfied with importing products from overseas.
He cites two reasons for this; first, he didn’t have control over the quality, and second, he felt that the price point was not fair.
By then, the market for mobile phones as well as accessories had ballooned. Nilesh knew that it would be a good bet to stay and grow in the same business. In 2011, Nilesh finally began in-house manufacturing for mobile accessories and began with intelli covers.
“By this time I had money to invest in business. I poured in Rs 50,000 to start my own manufacturing business,” he says.
Since the foundation of the manufacturing unit, there has been no looking back for Nilesh and KDM India.
Giving lifestyle choice to Bharat users
Nilesh had a vision of serving the masses with quality and affordable mobile accessories.
“You see there are many big brands in the market that are giving the best quality products but those are not affordable to the masses, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities. I wanted to fill this space through KDM India.”
With the same vision, Nilesh initially started making intelli mobile covers and then universal charges, famously called then ‘jaadu charger’ that helped the brand find customers. Today, after almost a decade, KDM India makes mobile chargers, earphones, speakers, neck bands to headphones in its own manufacturing units. Price range of the product lies between Rs 99 and Rs 1999 and is also getting it manufactured through OEMs.
Competition and the way ahead
Besides a presence in tier 2 and 3 cities, KDM India has a customer base in metro cities. It primarily operates in offline mode.
Competing with the likes of boAt, JBL, GoNoise, and others, Nilesh says KDM India is stepping up its efforts to go online. This would give the brand an equal platform to compete with the prominent brands in the market.
Talking about the future prospects, Nilesh says that the brand has occupied 80 percent of the Indian market and is planning to penetrate deeper. The brand has recently taken rigorous initiatives in running marketing campaigns and will continue to do so and will also work towards product development and packaging.
The vision of the company, according to the founder, is to be a household name in every town and remotest area of the country.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti