“It was in those days when people used cheques very rarely. I once went to Brijmohan Lal Munjal, the founder of Hero Cycles, and asked him to write a check for Rs 5,000. He immediately agreed to it. When I was leaving from there, he told me one thing which touched my heart. He told me son don’t make a habit of it.’
Sunil Mittal narrated this anecdote while remembering his early days. Sunil tied the knot with Munjal. Riding on his hard work, dedication and the policies of the government, Sunil Mittal is the owner of Airtel company worth Rs 4.36 lakh crore today. Airtel is the second largest mobile operator in India with 350 million users.
Airtel is in the news recently by increasing all its prepaid plans by 20-25%. Today we have come up with the story of Airtel becoming a brand…
Life lessons learned on the streets
Sunil Bharti Mittal was born on 23 October 1957 in Ludhiana, Punjab. His father Satpal Mittal was a politician and was also elected MP twice. Sunil’s early education took place at Vinberg School in Mussoorie. After this he went to study at Scindia School in Gwalior. Sunil completed his graduation from Arya College, Panjab University in 1976. Sunil says that he got life lessons on the streets more than in the classrooms. Such was the atmosphere of Ludhiana that he decided to do business.
Tried everything, then chose the right one
Soon after graduation, Sunil borrowed 20 thousand rupees from his father and started the work of cycle parts. Within a few days, Sunil realized that this business has a limit, but he was made for unlimited flying. So in 1980 he moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) in search of other business opportunities. Sunil, along with his brothers Rakesh and Rajan, founded Bharti Overseas Trading. He got an import license by selling his cycle business.
Sunil first acquired Suzuki’s dealership and started selling their electric powered generators in India. In this he made a lot of profit and the business started to freeze. In 1983, the government banned the export of generators before he could fully settle in this business. His business came to a standstill in a jiffy.
Entry in Telecom with push button phone
Sunil Mittal has a thumb rule that he does something that no one has ever done before in India. Following this rule, they decided to import push button phones in 1986. They imported push buttons from Taiwan and started selling them under the brand name Beetel in India. They made a lot of profit from this. By the 1990s, they started making fax machines and other telecommunications equipment in addition to push button phones.
In 1992, the Government of India started distributing licenses for mobile service for the first time. Sunil grasped this opportunity and obtained cellular licenses for Delhi and adjoining areas in association with French company Vivendi. In 1995 Sunil Mittal established Bharti Cellular Limited to offer cellular services and started operations under the Airtel brand. Seeing them, they became 20 thousand, then 20 lakh and then 200 million users.
World’s top telecom company made with aggressive strategy
In 1999, Bharti Enterprises acquired JT Holdings to expand cellular operations in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2000, Bharti acquired Skycell Communications in Chennai. After this, Spice Cell Kolkata was acquired in 2001. Thereafter the company was listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange.
In 2008, Airtel crossed the 60 million subscriber mark in India. At that time, the valuation of Airtel had reached $ 40 billion. This made Bharti Airtel the top telecom company in the world.
Airtel staggered after the launch of Jio
The big challenge for Airtel came after the launch of Jio in 2016. At the time of Jio’s launch in 2016, there were 8 companies in the telecom industry, which are now reduced to 4. At that time the average calling rate was 58 paise per minute, which has come down to 18 paise in 2018 and now even below. Airtel also had to bring down its rates according to the market.
Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Airtel India & South Asia says, “We have to come in around Rs.300 to make a profit. Right now we have increased the tariff to Rs.162 ARPu, but this is not enough. Even to keep the head out of the water, we have to go to 200 K Rpu.
A senior journalist believes that Airtel has taken Indian customers lightly. When Jio was trying for 4G spectrum, Airtel did nothing. Airtel was a leader in the telecom sector in India for 25 years. He kept on improving his 2G, 3G services. Airtel started work on 4G very late. However, now the situation is improving. Airtel is not only expanding its customer base, but it has also started trying to turn a profit by increasing its prepaid tariff plans by up to 25%.