Founder’s Club

Suneet Singh Tuli – Founder and CEO of Datawind

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EXHIBIT : Congratulations to the man behind Aakash tablet – the cheapest ever tablet in the world by Datawind. Tell us more about its inception story and the journey so far since 2011.
Suneet Singh Tuli: Thank you!!! Datawind made the world’s cheapest tablet knows as “Aakash” for the Indian government. We won the contract to supply 1 lakh units of Aakash tablets at a price of USD 49.98 per piece in 2011, which was ₹ 2,276 at that time. Tablets market in India in 2011 was 2.5 lakh units and today it is 50 lakh units. We have placed about 27 lakh units in the market. Last quarter IDC showed as at 23% market share and in below ₹ 5,000 units we held 58% market share. In 2011-12 end we had about `1 crore revenue in 2016 March 31, now we are close to ₹ 300 crore revenue from India.

EXHIBIT : In the same context, would you like to tell us more about the development of hand held net surfing device called as “Pocket Surfer”.
Ss: Pocket surfer made by Datawind was based on a web-delivery platform developed by Datawind. Datawind worked as an MVNO and bundled web platform with pocket surfer hardware to sell a package. However, pocket surfer was a product ahead of its time and did not witness huge roll-outs. Pocket Surfer was mobile hardware which allowed one to collect emails, send messages and check sites whilst on the move. We learned a lot from all that especially our focus on shifting computing and storage burden from client to the server.Suneet Singh Tuli

EXHIBIT : You hold the Guinness World Record for having developed and created the world’s largest Fax machine. What’s special about the same?
Ss: Back in the early 90s, when I was barely out of college and working with my brother on a new line of business, we encountered a challenge – sales! Since our background was engineering, sales and marketing was always a task even after hiring management specialists. We were facing difficulties in selling the fax machines designed for construction engineering sector and we knew that our product was better than any other in the market; just awareness about the same was an issue. Then I decided to try a noble way. I pitched these fax machines as the World’s Largest to the Guinness Book of World Records. The idea paid off brilliantly. We always knew that by driving cognizance and sales will follow. Guinness happened, sales started to roll and in two years we were out with an IPO.

EXHIBIT : And what about your biggest success story?
Ss: Project Aakash was the start of our success story followed by introduction of 2G tablets, 3G Ubislate tablets and then launch of Pocketsurfersmartphones in 2013. Recently we have launched Droid surfer netbooks last year. Geographically and by operation, company has fore folded and now employs around 1200 employees globally and has major presence in India, North America and Africa.

EXHIBIT  : How have things on technology front changed since the day you had started off till today?
Ss: The market has significantly grown since 2011. Android based tablet and smartphones dominate the market and OS, iOS followed by Windows. The Indian Mobile Phone Industry is extremely competitive as it is flooded with various low cost tablets and Smartphones.

Every consumer IT Company is trying luck in the smartphones space and is offering products embedded with latest technology and apps. The most persuasive component is affordable price. When a customer is actually on a buying spree, he is facing a tough time while choosing the best Smartphone or Tablet since multiple options are available. Also, it has become little challenging for seller to come up with best of the technology and applications to offer at minimal price range. The trend was to meet customer expectations both in terms of the products and pricing.

EXHIBIT : What added advantages do newbies get today while starting up a new business or an initiative?
Ss: A couple of advantages including startup cost benefits in taxes and more importantly unlimited potential of growth. Because in today’s world, success is more dependent on new ideas and innovations.

EXHIBIT : Who or what has been your biggest inspiration on your way to success?
Ss: Faith and teachings of Sikh Gurus. Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak are always my greatest inspirations. My older brother and father have been great mentors and have inspired me.Suneet Singh Tuli_quote

EXHIBIT : Apart from your work, what else keeps you going in your daily life?
Ss: I keep myself motivated by increasing my knowledge base and by bonding with my family. With my very busy schedule and constant travelling, spiritual growth keeps me motivated.

EXHIBIT : Work, fun, addiction – what do you use social media for?
Ss: Social media is a powerful tool to connect these days and I use it for both work and fun.

EXHIBIT : Your favorite book – what about it inspires you the most?
Ss: My favorite book is BachitraNatak – the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. What inspires me the most about it is his way of looking at things from Waheguru Ji’s point of view.

EXHIBIT : Your views on Startup India.
Ss: It is a great campaign provided it is actually beneficial for the new ventures. Campaigns like this will definitely help promote “Make in India” (in house production).

EXHIBIT : Another side of Mr Tuli which many of us don’t know?
Ss: I am a family man, having four children and I actively contribute to their growth and nourishment.

EXHIBIT : Words for Exhibit and its readers to get going in life.
Ss: Life is not about money. Sometimes it is easy to get and sometimes difficult. It is about the value and benefit you are delivering to the society. It always takes longer and is difficult than you would have imagined. Many people give up too early. It is all about perseverance. It was too easy to have walked away and too easy to fail. Look at your work with passion.

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  1. Pingback: Suneet Singh Tuli – Founder and CEO of Datawind | Exhibit Magazine

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