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Meet the low-profile businessman who launched a smartphone for Rs 251!

Last updated on: February 19, 2016 15:52 IST
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Mohit Kumar Goel has created a flutter in India launching the world’s cheapest smartphone.

Image: Mohit Goel Director of Ringing Bells, with CEO Dhaarna Goel during the launch of Smartphone-Ringing Bells Freedom 251, in New Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI
 
 

Ringing Bells, the company that claims to have launched the cheapest smartphone in the world, is a newbie in the 100-million-units-annually sold Indian smartphone market.

While the unbelievably low price tag of Rs 251 has created interest among customers, what's even more intriguing is the background of the company.

Incorporated in September 2015, Ringing Bells is owned by a UP-based business family.

The company has three directors - Mohit Kumar Goel, Sushma Devi and Rajesh Kumar.

While Sushma and Rajesh are Mohit Goel's parents, the younger Goel, who studied at Amity University in Noida and has an MBA from Western Sydney University in New South Wales, is the face of the company.

Mohit's brother Anmol and wife Dhaarna are part of the company too, but the Goels mostly keep a low profile.

At the launch of the smartphone on Wednesday, most of the questions were fielded by Ashok Chadha, the president of Ringing Bells.

Image: Ashok Chadha, President, Ringing Bells with Director Mohit Goel and CEO, Dhaarna Goel during the launch of Smartphone-Ringing Bells Freedom 251, in New Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI
 
 

Chadha, who has 46 years of experience in chemicals, automobiles and the financial services industry, seemed more comfortable talking to the media than the Goels.

According to Chadha, the Goel family has been into the agri-commodity business, with interests in UP and Haryana, and is the proprietor of Ringing Bells.

The family is investing Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) into the venture in the form of equity capital.

The funds will be used to set up two plants- one in Noida and another in Uttarakhand-to manufacture handsets.

In addition to the family investment, the company will raise Rs 300 crore (Rs  in bank loans for the plants.

"The Goel family has invested their savings into Ringing Bells," Chadha told reporters at the launch event.

Image: Goel family has invested their savings into Ringing Bells. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI
 
 

Yet, how the Goels plan to make their venture profitable is a mystery.

At Rs 251, the smartphone is priced at one-tenth of its manufacturing cost of Rs 2,500.

The company is banking on an "innovative ecommerce platform" for marketing , savings on excise duty from local manufacturing, and economies of scale to cut production costs.

"These measures will result in savings of Rs 1,500 on the production cost," says Chadha.

However, experts say the costs don't add up.

They believe the components of the smartphone, which runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system and has features such 1.3 GHz Quadcore processor, 1 GB RAM, 8GB internal memory and two, back and front cameras, can't be procured at Rs 1,000. Chadha did not reveal the company's plans further.

In a country like India where at least 150 smartphone companies are jostling for a share of the market, the adventure seems unusual to most industry players - who with years of experience and well established teams are finding it hard to hold on to their market.

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