B. Visweswaran, a 37-year-old Chennai-basedentrepreneur is aiming high as well. A former Intel employee, his two-year-oldstartup Wysene provides solutions that streamline the power usage of industriesin India.The firm's product tracks power drawn from the state grid and from newersources such as solar panels and windmills. The companies then can tweak theirproduction cycle to save power and costs. "Industries could shiftpower-intensive processes to off-peak time when electricity is cheaper andperhaps more regular," says Visweswaran, who has also worked out a product forhomes.
|The Big Picture|
The Indian electronics industry is on the fast track…
Loomba and Visweswaran have many others forcompany. The exploding electronics market in India is catalysing theestablishment of a range of diverse startups. According to several independentestimates, there are some 1,000 companies now operating in this market,scattered around the country. India'sconsumption of electronics, says a report commissioned by the Ministry ofCommunications and Information Technology, could grow almost tenfold in size inthe next decade to a staggering $400 billion.
Today, electronics account for the secondhighest foreign exchange outgo after petroleum and its products, in India's importbill. This opens up umpteen opportunities for local designers andmanufacturers. It is estimated that a fifth of India's Rs 927,969 crore tradedeficit is from electronics.
In telecom alone, analysts say India requiresimports of up to $50 billion yearly, with phone service firms spending half oftheir revenues on equipment imports. For example, in the $6-billion wirelinetelecom market, only half of the products are made locally. Or consider thewireless infrastructure: imports account for some 60 per cent of the $8-10billion equipment procured annually.
Indian enterprises, including some of thebiggest names in the business, have previously made unsuccessful attempts inelectronics manufacturing but were stymied by a dormant local market and anunhelpful bureaucracy. Bharti, the Tatas (with Telco) and the Mahindras, haveall made forays. But things appear different now, says the industry, with abooming domestic market. Beside cellphones, India is a leading market fortelevisions, VCD/CD players and other consumer electronic products. Thisopportunity could also generate four to five million jobs, many of them bluecollar assembly and testing roles, according to the Indian SemiconductorAssociation, or ISA, the industry body.
The domestic market straddles diverseindustries such as telecom, power, health care, defence and even entertainment.The evolving domestic electronics industry combines India's strength in software andnewer skills in computer chip design along with some skills in hardware andsemiconductor manufacturing.
The more the merrier
The people starting up, too, are diverse.For example, in a suburb in northern Bangalore,Sankara Reddy, who worked for 15 years at the Indian Institute of Sciencebefore turning entrepreneur, has started his latest venture, called Terminus Circuits.With a small team of just nine people now, he plans to develop a solution toprovide wireless charging for consumer electronic products. "We want to use ourintellectual property to build wirelessrouter-like charging stations," saysReddy.
The potential in the electronics industryhas also attracted the veterans of the information technology industry. Forexample, Anant Koppar, 51, an early employee of MphasiS (acquired by EDS inJune 2006 for Rs 1,800 crore) and prior to that of Kshema Technologies(acquired by Mphasis for $21 million or Rs 94.5 crore), is now making a freshbet. His latest venture, called KTwo Technology Solutions, wants to lean on India's expertise in electronics - strong indesign and evolving prowess in manufacturing - to devise low-cost products for India's ruralmillions.
On Semiconductor, a Phoenix, Arizona-basedsemiconductor supplier, recently opened its India centre and wants to join thelikes of Huawei and Longcheer in tapping the opportunity here. It will focus onmanufacturers of UPS and inverters, energy meters and LED lighting.
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