“My Goal Was To Break Down The Barriers Between People And Technology”

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Manoj Kumar Pansari, chairman and MD, Astrum India

Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, Manoj Kumar Pansari developed a mindset of an entrepreneur at a very young age. He had a strong desire to build a big empire, and that was his only motivation from the beginning. After completing his commerce graduation, he worked with several startups. Before founding Astrum, he worked with Kaira Pvt Ltd, a regional distributor of computer parts, accessories, IT products, networking and data storage products. He started Astrum in Hong Kong because of the good demand for technology there, and later moved the company to India. In a candid interaction with Nijhum Rudra, he shares his professional journey, the various obstacles he faced and his contribution to the industry.

From my hometown in Rajasthan to Hong Kong has been a long journey. There were days when I worked 24 hours without resting. The idea of setting up a technology brand and a vision to offer consumer products beyond IT had gripped my mind. These thoughts crystallised while I was working in Kaira Pvt Ltd, a company owned by my uncle Suresh Kumar Pansari. His vision and commitment towards the company was also one of the reasons that motivated me to start Astrum with perseverance and dedication.

A few of my favourite things Hobbies: Reading books, listening to classical music, cooking
Favourite music: I am more into classical music
Favourite food: My home-town food—Rajasthani dishes
Favourite books: I like reading books that help me grow as a leader, such as ‘Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell’
Favourite actor: Amitabh Bachchan
Favourite actress: Late Sridevi
Favourite singer: Evergreen Kishore Kumar

My goal was to break down the barriers between people and technology, which helped me create the roadmap for the company. Astrum’s growth internationally over ten years, with products sold in 42+ countries, was possible only due to the hard work of my team, besides my efforts to think smart and challenge the norm by offering exceptional products.

It was challenging as well as liberating when I took the initial leap of independence, leaving behind whatever I was doing to start my own business. But the period after taking that first leap was what really proved to be testing. However, after many late nights and lots of hard work, I eventually realised that it was time to recruit some help and start building a team.

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Our success mantra
Every year, from the time Astrum was started, has been a turning point for the company. From 2013, we started product portfolio diversification to get new products launched in each quarter. The company established a subsidiary in India in the year 2017, and soon had a pan-India presence. In 2019, we unveiled our first manufacturing plant in India, which is spread across 16,000sqm in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. The same year we launched Made in India products in the audio and mobility fields.

Having a fresh mindset for success is my way of energising myself and breathing new life into my work, with a new, more productive approach. In our workspace, we follow the ‘Flexibility and Individuality’ mantra. It’s the casual atmosphere that enables us to nurture top talent and lead the IT world in innovation. Our flexible work schedules for working moms, stay-at-home dads and avoiding lengthy commutes differentiates us from other brands.

Learning is constant
I believe one can learn at any age. That’s what I teach my team and help them bloom, and try coordinating with them on a regular basis. I update and interact with them using every possible means these days, including emails, WeChat, and conference calls—if the network is too bad for a video call. I have always followed this agenda, having believed that continuity and consistency is the key. It is about channelising our energy for effective use of mind and body towards improving overall wellness. The same applies to work as well as personal life; channelise all the energy to focus on tasks to be completed through the day and the objectives to be met.

We won the ‘Best Employer Brand Award 2019’ and three prestigious awards from India’s reputed media house, Mobility, last year. This year, we have received ‘Asia’s Most Innovative Technology and Electronic Solution of the Year’ award from Asia’s Most Valuable Brand Awards 2020, and hope to continue doing our best in the future as well.

Coming from a small village, I always had big dreams from a very young age. Leaders like Ratan Tata and Bill Gates, with their enthusiasm for growth, along with a unique combination of business expertise and a creative mind, have always inspired me to get the best results. Even today, when Astrum is listed among the top accessories brands, I like watching movies about business leaders, and reading their biographies to understand leadership and management. I believe books can help one keep active and keep learning, irrespective of one’s age.

Astrum’s future and roadmap
At Astrum, we are focused on getting as much visibility for our products as possible, both on offline and online platforms, so that it gets easier for customers to avail our service. Soon, we will be unveiling new upgraded products in India as well as on the global platform.

As per our analysis, the demand for electronic products has never decreased. The demand has always been high, whether people are working in an office or are working from home. In fact, this COVID-19 pandemic has given a boost to digital infrastructure all around the globe.
We will be coming up with a lot of new things, and we are working on bettering our services, both online and offline, for our customers. Due to this pandemic, we are becoming more aggressive on e-commerce platforms, and also trying to keep the price of our products under control.

Speaking about our production, we have already started making new models of smart devices, IT accessories, mobile accessories, etc. At Astrum, we try to sell the products that satisfy the demand and requirement of the customers, maintaining standard quality with proper pricing.

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