From a mobile accessories shop owner to MD of Ambrane India, Ashok Rajpal shares life journey and company's future plans
New Delhi | Abhinav Gupta: In India, indigenous products are the need of the hour as the government itself pushes for Brand India to reduce the dependency on imports and become self-reliant. Ambrane India, as the itself suggests, is a ‘Make in India’ electronics brand that was established in 2012 with a vision to offer smart electronic gadgets.
After being in textile business for over a decade, Mr Ashok Rajpal - MD of Ambrane India - played a gamble and jumped into the tech industry in 2001 when it was on a boom. Noting a huge growth potential in the demand for peripheral devices, he decided to venture into this nascent industry, though he had no knowledge of it.
From beginning as a retailer of mobile accessories to owning a leading Indian gadget brand, Mr Rajpal’s journey is both struggling and inspiring. In an interview with Jagran New Media’s senior journalist Abhinav Gupta, Mr Rajpal spoke about his company and its future plans and a lot more.
Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Q. What was the idea behind starting a power bank focused brand? What is the thought behind the name ‘Ambrane India’?
A. We originally come from Textile background, and have been in that business for over 11 years now. When we saw the Tech Industry booming with opportunities, we took the plunge. Though we had no understanding of the Tech Markets, but had the understanding of How to run a business.
We started off being a small-time retailer at Nehru place, for Mobile Accessories, and with that capitalized the first mover advantage, and founded Ambrane for Power Banks in the Year 2012. We thought of entering with Power Banks, as it was an unfamiliar concept in India, though internationally (Japan, US etc) quite popular. We got listed with Ecommerce portals, and got a phenomenal response. With that, we were the first brand yet again, to adopt the ‘Make in India’ ethos, long before the Make in India movement officially began. Within a short span of time, we became one of the top manufacturers in the Power Banks category in the Indian Market.
Q. Your brand is not only limited to power banks now. What other range of products do you offer?
A. We began as a powerbank brand and gained immense popularity in this segment. Seeing the traction and opportunities in the market, we started diversifying and expanding our product portfolio. Apart from Power Banks, we now offer Audio ( Neckband, Headphones, TWS), Charging Solutions ( Wall Charger, Car Charger), Wearables ( Smartwatch, Fitness band) and recently we also ventured into the Personal care category. Today, the brand has become synonymous to Quality and Innovation, at the most budgeted price points.
Q. How do you see India’s ‘digital strike’ on Chinese apps and companies as an opportunity for Indian companies? What has been the impact of the ban on your company?
A. Digital strikes on Chinese apps did not impact Ambrane. However it’s the Boycott China goods that actually brought immense opportunities for the Make in India brands and challenges too. The Boycott China boosted the Indian brands and they became favored as against the Chinese counterparts. Be it Power Banks or TV – Vocal for Local gave an edge to Indian brands.
Being an Indian company, the impact so far has been positive for us. People are inclining towards Indian brands and supporting us more than ever.
The fact that people are getting more and more conscious about the product’s background has been beneficial for us. They are choosing Indian brands over foriegn ones.
Yes, they are challenges too when it comes to manufacturing but we take this as an opportunity to make Indian stronger rather than a hurdle. We are working to the best of our capability to work things out and be proudly Indian.
Q. Will the dependence on China for components go down in near future? What is the key alternative for tech brands to become a self reliant and completely 'Make in India' brand?
A. Seeing the awareness in people to support Indian small businesses and brands, the dependence on Chinese brands will definitely have a downfall. Although there are small scale industries who have setup manufacturing units, even at component level, but needs the support of the government to go that extra mile. Currently, they are also making components which were earlier imported from China, however it all comes down to volume, cost and quality. It's prominent that if the raw material is available within the country there would be no dependency.
The IT Industry can definitely develop alternatives within the country. There are ways to make the components as well as complete products within the country giving ways to more employment opportunities too.
Q. What are the best practices that your company implements towards the Make in India approach and creating environment friendly products as power bank uses batteries made of toxic elements?
A. We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that we do business in such a manner that its Win – Win for both the environment and us. That’s why we have taken small steps to do our bit too. For instance, we do have packaging for select products eco friendly. We have also tied up with recycling companies who pick up our scrap-waste products and recycle them for reuse. Prioritizing environmental protection we try our best to generate less waste, making the best of the resources.
Q. How Ambrane has been dealing with the current COVID-19 situation? How has the pandemic impacted the consumer demand and what is the company approach towards revival?
A. The pandemic has not caused any wide setback but to us, however we took it one day at a time slowly and steadily, strengthening ourselves. Fortunately at the initial stage of pandemic we had plenty of raw materials to survive through the import ban period in India and meet our consumer demands. Hence, there wasn't any negative impact of the pandemic on us. The only trouble we faced was that during the Lockdown our service centers were closed hence, we became highly active on our social media to answer any consumer queries and fortunately we were able to make the ends meet. The period was a learning for us.
Q. Tell us about the most memorable and remarkable moment of your life.
A. Crossing the benchmark of “10 million customers” was a milestone for the Ambrane family. Just imagining the grand impact that we have made on society was beyond words. Being the Indian brand we were able to give back to the society and maintain the standards of “Made in India” products.
Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
A. I personally think that once you are determined to achieve your goals there is no one stopping you, you don’t need external forces to motivate yourself. Your passion and hard work brings the result so keep hustling and never stop dreaming. Most essential - Treat your success and failures equally because it’s all a part of life.
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta