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Murali Retineni, Executive Director, Celkon Mobiles

May 26, 2015
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Murali Retineni, executive director, Celkon Mobiles, co-founded the Hyderabad-based mobile handset company in 2009, a time when the Indian smartphone market was dominated by foreign players. It was challenging, but exciting, for him to carve out a niche for Celkon in the presence of these well-established companies.

A postgraduate in management, Retineni worked with a few IT companies before launching his own venture. Given that he had a good understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences helped him make Celkon a success. “Handsets came with several unwanted features which consumers did not use; however, these features were accounted for in the phone’s mark-up price. By eliminating such features, we have been able to offer handsets at reduced rates. We pioneered this model, and everybody else followed,” says Retineni.

Over the years, Celkon, along with other local handset players in the country, has built a strong value proposition by offering innovative features at competitive prices. However, of late, the Indian handset space has become very competitive with the entry of several new local players and Chinese vendors. According to Retineni, “The big challenge now is to compete with these new players while keeping our price points intact. In India, most of the research and development activities in the handset manufacturing space continue to be software driven as compared to hardware. Developing the right handset ecosystem in the country will be crucial for the sustainability and growth of this industry. The manufacturing sector has huge potential in this country, especially after the launch of the Make in India initiative. In fact, the next two years will be very crucial for the Indian manufacturing industry. In five to seven years, India can become the next China in terms of manufacturing. I would be glad to see this transformation.”

Retineni manages Celkon’s three offices located in Hyderabad, Delhi and Shenzhen (China), and oversees all aspects of product development, including identifying potential markets and designing effective marketing strategies. His job demands a lot of travel. He spends almost five to six days every month in China, two to three days in Delhi and the remaining in Hyderabad. He makes it a point to attend various global mobile expos. “It helps me keep abreast of the latest developments. Also, these expos offer good exposure in terms of creating a roadmap for new products,” he says.

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