A lot of people have ideas, but only a few can execute them successfully. A first generation entrepreneur and a visionary in the true sense, Narendra Bansal, chairman and managing director (CMD), Intex Technologies (India) Ltd, risked venturing into the domain of information technology (IT) back in 1996, when the sector was not only new to him but also to the Indian market. The driving force behind Intex, Bansal has taken the company’s turnover from Rs 320 million in 2001-02 to Rs 10 billion in 2012-13. Today, Intex Technologies is a renowned Indian brand in the IT hardware, mobile phones and electronics manufacturing segments. In a conversation with Nitasha Chawla of Electronics Bazaar, Narendra Bansal shares his success story and talks of how his tryst with IT was a turning point in his life.
I was born in a village called Tehsil Badra near Rajasthan in 1963. My father was a grain merchant and my mother was a homemaker. I am the eldest of five siblings—three brothers and two sisters. Soon after I completed my primary education in the village from a government school, my family moved to Nepal due to my father’s business. I did my secondary education in Nepal from Vishwaniketan High School. I was very disciplined in school. Even though I wasn’t a bright student, I was loved by my teachers so much that my principal used to give me tuitions for free.
The way I conducted myself, my thinking, my behaviour and my nature were liked by my teachers. These traits were not something I inherited from my parents, but I developed over time.
Being bitten by the business bug and my brush with IT
In 1980, my family moved to Delhi, where I got a degree in commerce from Delhi University. During my graduation, I got more interested in business but was sure that I would neither want to join my father’s business nor work in a 9-to-6 job. I wanted to be independent and start a business of my own. I started looking for business opportunities and tried my hand at many things. At that time, audio cassettes were in demand, so I started trading in them. I used to buy them from manufacturers and sell them to the traders in Lajpat Rai Market and Palika Bazaar. Similarly, I took up trading of video cassettes and video cassette recorders (VCRs). This continued till 1987 and till then I managed to earn enough money to support myself.
My first brush with IT was with the arrival of floppy disks in 1987. With the same business model of distribution and trading, I expanded my portfolio from floppy disks to hard drives and RAMs. That’s how I got into IT and realised how big the sector would become one day.
My younger brothers, who were then in college, also joined me in the business. They used to lend their support by buying goods from the manufacturers, taking care of accounts and delivering the goods. Even though on a small scale, my business was going on well. I was able to sustain myself without borrowing money from anyone or delaying payments.
Birth of Intex was the first turning point in my life
When I was exploring better business opportunities, I identified that IT hardware had a high growth potential in India way back in 1993. There was no manufacturing of IT products in India, and there was a huge gap between demand and supply. Therefore, I worked up an import-based business model keeping in mind India’s market scenario. In 1996, I started Intex Technologies (India) Ltd with just Rs 20,000 as initial capital and just one product—Ethernet cards. I then had a team of two—my brother and a helper. I identified some vendors based in Taiwan and China from business directories and then made a few trips to these countries to meet them. That’s how I started importing Ethernet cards from manufacturers in Taiwan and China, and sold them under the brand name Intex. However, gradually Intex entered into contract manufacturing in China and Taiwan for products like computer peripherals, mobile phones, PCs, notebooks, TFT and LCD monitors, DVD players, computer multimedia speakers, headphones and Web cameras. It was only in 2004 that we started our own manufacturing units in India.
Today, we have three manufacturing units, two in Jammu and one in Himachal Pradesh, a workforce of 2000, 30 offices across India and 500 after-sales centres. Intex has also been felicitated with many awards. These include the Golden Rhino Award in 2003 in the ‘Best Products’ category for speakers, mouse, cabinets and keyboards; the Bhoomi Brands Award in 2004 for the ‘Best Speaker’ brand; Cyber Media Labs’ ‘Highly Recommended Award’ for Intex’s Gold PC in 2006, and several others.
Brand building was a challenging task
Establishing a new brand in the market was a challenging task, as I had to face severe competition from various MNC brands who ruled the market.
It took us six years to establish Intex’s footprint in the market. We faced challenges in terms of procurement of material, supply of materials, acceptance of the brand, etc. Building a brand image for the company has been a continuous process and with the introduction of every new product, we have become more aggressive in marketing it so that the consumers know what all Intex offers.
It was only by 2002 that we have become well known among consumers. This shift happened with the introduction of our after sales service centres. Those days, the IT market was dominated by multinational brands and local firms were only distributors importing IT products and selling in India; hence, they were not providing after sales services to the customers. Intex differentiated itself by offering these services and a replacement guarantee for our products.
When we decided to go for this business model, we knew it was going to be a difficult step for us but we wanted to differentiate ourselves from other players. Since we were confident about the quality of our product, we offered these services to the customers and eventually it paid off.
Another step which helped us a lot in penetrating into the market was the expansion of our distribution network. We wanted Intex to reach tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well, where no other big company was present. Therefore, we appointed distributors across India and also opened our sales offices in some cities.
Today, I can proudly say that many of our customers have been with us since the beginning. They have faith in our brand and they have helped and supported us to grow.
I believe in walking the talk
It is very important for an entrepreneur to keep his team motivated. However, I believe that you can’t motivate anyone just by talking big; you need to walk the talk. Therefore, I do what I say and I judge the capabilities of a person before having any expectations from him. People are the most important asset for a company; this is something I realised when I went for a 10-day management course at IIM Ahmedabad. It was an eye-opener for me, as I learnt to be patient while dealing with my employees and acquired other managerial skills. I have also attended other seminars and management programmes to add to my knowledge and grow as a leader.
These courses have helped me to develop a knack of knowing my employees better, and building a
relationship of trust and understanding with them as I feel, without this attitude, a company cannot grow. I am also very close to my partners and distributors. I can proudly say that some of my employees who worked with me even before I formed Intex, are still with me. They have grown within the organisation. They joined as executives and apprentices, and now are department heads.
The second turning point: Meeting my wife
I got married in 1990 to Alpa. I was introduced to her by a friend in Ahmedabad during a business trip and we fell for each other. We soon got married with the blessings of our parents. My wife is a homemaker in the true sense. I am lucky to have her as my life partner. She has been instrumental in mellowing my temper, which was my major drawback. I was a short-tempered person and I regret some of the decisions I have taken in my life, in a fit of anger. My transformation into a calmer person has been only because of my wife. I used to believe that being angry and dominating was characteristic of being a man but I have realised that I was wrong in thinking so.
It’s only because of her loving and caring nature that my entire family shares a strong bond. Adopting some of her characteristics has not only made me a better person but also helped me in my professional life as I no longer let my anger rule my decisions.
Alpa has given me two adorable kids, son Keshav and daughter Ishita. Keshav is 21 years old and is preparing for an MBA, while Ishita is studying in Class 12. I want both my children to set their goals and then work hard to achieve them. I am always there to guide them in whatever they choose to do in their lives.
We have aggressive plans for the next financial year
I want to take the Intex brand to the next level. For this, we will promote the brand on a global scale. We are also focusing on state-wise advertising. Intex will be seen on TV commercials as well, mainly to promote our mobile phones. We also have plans to enter the inverter and battery business. We may also go in for security products. I think it is the right time to exploit the brand Intex. All this should happen in the next three to six months, and we will continue to add new product lines to our portfolio. The basic idea is not only to make money but also to contribute to society. We want our customers to associate themselves with our brand for the long term. Their satisfaction is most important for us. It took us six years to reach a Rs 320 million turnover, but in 2013, we will be closing with a turnover of Rs 10 billion and targeting Rs 20 billion in 2013-14.
|One thing that I would like to change
In this world: The quality of Indian leadership, for a better-ruled country.
In society: I wish the people in our society would become more responsible and empathetic towards each other. When somebody you don’t know needs help, nobody cares. However, to protest against injustice, we are always ready.
In my work place: I would like to have a bigger office with a youthful and vibrant look.
In myself: I have always lost something whenever I have shown my anger—be it a business opportunity, money or my health. These incidents have taught me to handle things with love and changed my life for good. Now I feel it is easier to manage work and people, with love.
One incident that taught me a lesson in life: Once, a very close friend of mine cheated me in business. Since then, I have changed my opinion aboutrelationships. I am now more careful with people and don’t trust them blindly.
THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS…
|Food||Any vegetarian cuisine|
|Book||Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Godfather by Mario Puzo|
|Sport||Table tennis and badminton|
|Colour||Black and white|
|Political figure||Nelson Mandela|