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We have made many mistakes, but I've left them behind: Datawind CEO

S. Ronendra Singh
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Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind
Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind

As many as one lakh students across the country were supposed to have Aakash tablets by now under a Government project. But this has not happened due to differences between the tablet manufacturer Datawind and its distributor Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Jodhpur (Rajasthan).

According to the institute, nearly 7,000 tablets it received in February did not pass some of required specifications. However, Datawind said such specifications were never mentioned in the Government’s tender.

After a good three months of arguments, the Government gave the responsibility to IIT-Mumbai, which is currently working on the improved product named Aakash–II, and has distributed around 20,000 units to students. Suneet Singh Tuli, Chief Executive Officer, Datawind, in an interview with Business Line shares his learning and talks of what is on offer in future. The Aakash-II will be launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday. Excerpts:

What are the learnings you received and how confident are you of Aakash 2.0?

The learning I have received is that when the customer and the reviewer are not same, you are going to be criticised.

To be successful in India, you have to be willing to perceive that. We have made many mistakes trying to make a difference, but I have left them behind.

Business is strong now. Consumer demand is greater than what we can fulfil. It is better to have more demand than supply.

We are delivering around 2,500 units a day and we get pre-bookings of 5,000-6,000 units every day.

We now have four contract manufacturing relationships, one each in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore, and including our own facility in Amritsar, where we started operations few weeks ago. We will continue to expand as when required. We prefer not to name our assemblers because putting out the name has not been good from the earlier experience.

How long will you take to meet the Government’s demand of one lakh units?

We are catching up. Because it got transferred to IIT-Mumbai, it took longer. We aim to deliver the remaining 80,000 units by December-end. The Government is coming out with another tender of around 50 lakh tablets and we are hopeful of getting a percentage.

The Government is one of our customers, but not big as of now. We have around 40,000 units of Aakash-II booked by consumers and we are meeting those demand as well. We have already supplied around three lakh units to consumers.

How strong is your Amritsar plant and how many units are you manufacturing from there?

We are manufacturing around 2,500 units every day and by December we will ramp up to double this size so that around 10,000 units are made each day, including other sub-contract manufacturers. We are setting up a fabrication unit in the plant for the touch panels. It should be ready in the next 30 days.

Our intent is to set up as many contract manufacturing arrangements as per requirement, because to scale up the numbers of tablets, these could do faster than we will be able to. Our business is traditional manufacturing services just like Apple – design, develop and own the technology – we sub-contract for manufacturing or assembling the products.

What investment have you made there?

We have invested around Rs 40 crore and hired 120 employees. We will continue to invest more in capital like inventories and plan to hire 10 times more people in the next two years.

What are other future plans?

We helped create a market of Rs 6,500–7,000 a tablet that cost Rs 15,000–20,000 a year ago by companies such as Micromax and Lava. We are selling our product at Rs 2,263 to the Government and for Rs 3,500 to the consumers. Computing/ Internet has arrived in India, which could leave behind the telecom revolution. We will continue to push the price pressure because we are sure those at the bottom of the pyramid need such products at such prices. We are getting a margin of less than 10 per cent from the Government deal and around 15 per cent from the consumers, but we do not mind that.

ronendrasingh.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 9, 2012)
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Comments:

Bleady frouder, i book a tablet and paid an amount in the month of
january till today not getting delivery.
Mr. tuli you are the biggest cheater, frouder of the country.
All the information and promises are fake give by Mr. S.S.Tuli.

from:  sumit
Posted on: Nov 11, 2012 at 00:14 IST

Where is the date of the article?

from:  Shiv
Posted on: Nov 11, 2012 at 11:54 IST

The man is a cheat and govt officials are on his payroll.
My department checked the tablet and it was a worthless e-book reader with no google playstore, extremely bad battery (quality and life)and a shelflife of not more than 2-3 months. The Media is also been giving Datawind and Tuli too much importance. Tuli has launched the tablet at least 4 time with the same promises.It doesnt take a super intelligent investigator to find all this out, just google it and go through the consumer forums. Tuli conveniently blames IIT for nothing, IIT should be praised for raising the alarm on this fraud. The children are going to get worthless devices and the politicians and beaurocrats along with Datawind are going to get rich. Shame!

from:  Naag Rikardo
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 10:47 IST

Mr. Tuli, Where are our tablets that we have booked earlier.......... I have booked and paid the amount for 2 tablets in March 2012 [Ack. no. PM4ED7C8A285 and PMDA7641E84E in name of sandeep and Zahid respectively].........
Till date we have not recieved any tablets..........

If you cannot manufacture tablets, better stop this and get into some other business..........

sandeep pawar - [sandeepgpawar@yahoo.co.in]

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 16:39 IST

Do not pay in advance........... I have paid in March 2012..... Did not get the tablets till date........

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Nov 12, 2012 at 17:01 IST

recieved ubislate 7ci...its amazing and hats of mr. tuli for bridging
cost barrier.
I recieved device week after writing at payment@datawind.com

from:  shalini
Posted on: Nov 14, 2012 at 22:22 IST
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