Mr Vikram Redlapalli_RDPRDP, India’s leading IT Hardware & Mobility Manufacturing Company. In an interview, Mr. Vikram Redlapalli, Founder & CEO, RDP talked more about company products, industry, market focus and key challenges.
  1. Who are the target audience of RPD and its existing range of affordable product portfolio

There are many buyers for thin-clients and mini PC’s. We have many business professionals, students who work on accounting applications, college students and even working professionals who have a limited computing requirement, looking out for pocket-friendly options. Our target customers fall into these categories: first time laptop buyers, students who are looking for budget-friendly alternatives, schools, SMBs (small or medium-sized business) and SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises). We have a varied mix of customers when it comes to our laptop products.

Our Product portfolio includes:

  1. Low Cost laptops (11.6 inch & 14.1 inch Laptops, 360 degree convertible Laptop)
  2. Tablets (7 & 8 Inches)
  3. Thin Clients
  4. Commercial Desktops & All-in-one PC’s
2.Tell us about IT Hardware & Mobility Manufacturing industry overview and your experience in this sector?

IT Hardware & mobility industry is a part of Global electronics industry. Today you know pretty well, if you look at all the commodities; after oil, the second biggest sector is electronics and IT hardware /mobility products. The new generation is majorly opting for cloud computing, and the devices we are manufacture come in the forefront. Definitely on IT Hardware & mobility, there are a lot of form factors. Different form factors are adopted by people every day for their various needs. Ex: Productivity form factor, Entertainment form factor etc. We are very optimistic with our approach, going forward. Thanks to the data technologies which are emerging. You can achieve everything at a single click because of the 4G connection and good connectivity. I feel the industry where we are in is highly optimistic. One needs to be always innovative and how you can be ahead in the race makes you a differentiator.

Before I launched our laptop, I was addressing a very small requirement of IT hardware need while we were into manufacturing thin clients and mini PC. But the total addressable market for that category is very niche and out of 100 % of the computer market, that was less than 1 %. Now after I started manufacturing laptops, I recon laptop as a form factor has become more than 50-60 % of the computing need. It has become a consumer product. Back then we were only into working with institutions,. The dynamics of dealing with manufacturing a consumer product and laptops is a different kind of form factor. This is a complete paradigm shift for a company like RDP. Consumer products by-and-large is completely a new learning process every day. We have to be innovative not only with the products but also with our business process, our approach and everything. It’s been a fantastic journey day in and day out. Every day is a new day, thanks to all my colleagues who are working very hard to crack this plan.

3.What are your upcoming products and how affordable are they to the customers?

RDP products are moving up the value chain.  In computing language there are 3 levels:

  1. Entry level- Entry Laptops
  2. Value of the mainstream
  3. Premium or Performance

Right now we are in the Entry level and doing a good job at it. We are now entering the mainstream and value segment. We are still figuring out the sweet spot, especially in terms of pricing and features. I am sure, that in the days to come we will double our volumes. We have been working for this and we have a roadmap to launch. At least for next 1-3 months we don’t have any product launch of any new models, but we may plan something in the second quarter or the early second quarter of the next financial year. Definitely the price will be a big competitor in the next financial year, and we are planning to launch 2 new SKU’s in the value scheme or value range.

We want to come back with the Celeron processors along with 4GB RAM and with hard disk compatibility and Windows OS at affordable prices. In the mid of Third Quarter (Indian FY 2018-19) we are adding a couple of ‘Value Segment’ SKU’s (Celeron / Pentium).

4.Brief us about your association with Intel & Microsoft? What kind of service/support do they offer?

Our devices; Thin Clients, ThinBooks, Mini PC’s, Desktop PC’s & All-in-one PC’s are equipped with Intel processors. Reaching Intel and Microsoft was an easy yet important process for us as we are selling a varied number of products; which helped us reach the qualification to become an OEM of Microsoft.

I would like to thank Intel, Microsoft and WPG support towards us. Surely RDP is leveraging a lot at this stage to go to the next level. Intel and Microsoft currently are our principle companies. Any IT hardware manufacturer has to know how to leverage things from these 2 principle companies. Because, they share with us the entire road map of the processor and they connect with the right component manufacturers assisting us in design and engineering. Apart from all these, RDP is still growing and associating with many companies and this has become is a huge credibility for us. In fact we have won so many customer deals because of this association.

One side is distribution and the other side is manufacturing and we are taking the help of WPG for distribution. WPG being one of the national distributions abd having a good credibility in the market, carry our product in the IT Channel. This also brings a lot of momentum to RDP.

5.What is the focus of your company on manufacturing innovation and R&D activities?

For any product manufacturer, designing and engineering is the first step. You can design and engineer based on the market trends, market requirement and customer requirements. How to be a niche in terms of product performance, design and many other factors would be considered. Based on the market customer needs, we try to design our product, manufacture it and take it to the market. With the growing needs of the consumer, we are trying to meet up all their requirements.

6.Which are the parts you import and what is the exact role of assembling center of RDP?

Currently we are manufacturing (SKD) in our ‘Anantapur factory’ (which is 200 Kms north to

Bangalore) and when it comes to design and development, it is happening in Hyderabad and Bangalore facilities.

As I mentioned earlier, any electronic product manufacturing company needs designing and engineering. That is our main intellectual property. The next step is manufacturing these in the ecosystem where everything can be done. Then assembling takes place. Assembling is only 20%, once I sell the product I need to take care of the customer for 1 year means 1 year warranty. And before warranty I need to sell. To sell, we need marketing, and before the product availability, the product engineering and designs. In the complete value chain, assembling is just 20-25%.

7.Tell us about your distribution network and strategies?

Ensuring the devices are present in all the sales channels is our major agenda. Our devices are available in across all three sales channel i.e., Enterprise, Retail and ecommerce. We are working with world class partners in each of the three channels to provide a good buying experience. In retail, we have appointed WPG as our national distributor and currently have 200+ JDVB (Jo dikhta hai wohi bikta hai) partners who are carrying our devices in their retail outlets. We are implementing strategies and schemes to increase the 2000+ JDVB partners.

We have these three sales channels that are addressing to different customer segments, so we have separate teams in all of the three channels. Right now, we are concentrating on both B-B and B-C. In enterprise we have our own 350-400 channel partners and it is the same in retail with around 350-400 partners. In ecommerce, we are working with 4 distributors and 4 different portals. I think we have built around 300-400 partners, but our vision is very clear to build 5000 channel partner network.

India is huge demographically, with 31 states and union territories and more than 700 districts. So we need broader deeper availability of our products to the channel partners but thanks to the recent initiatives like implementing the two ERP systems to ensure the growth of network. We have the foundation ready and are highly scalable.

8.What are the USP’s of RDP and how different are the products from its competitors?

These are the top-notch USP’s of RDP to give the best to the customers at affordable price

  1. Delivering Highest Value: Ex: We launched ‘Intel Z8350’ processor while others launched ‘Intel Z3735’, Ours Processor performance was 32% higher compared to the other players in the market.
  2. We got hundreds of reviews for device aesthetics, though the product is ‘low cost’, the design and finish of our products are matching the ‘premium’ category laptops in any class.
  3. Making ‘devices’ available in all the sales channels. We are working with world class partners in each of the three channels to provide rich buying experience.
  4. We have 200+ service centers PAN India and call centers to address the support queries, from 10am-6pm (weekdays). We have a ‘world class’ support ticketing CRM along with clear SLA’s defined to iron out any kind of support issue in less than 48 hours.

Rich features, good products, good price and a good support system to the customers are the biggest USP’s for an RDP customer

9.What key challenges you would like to highlight for this industry?

The biggest challenge in our industry is the ‘Ecosystem’. The ecosystem is not all matured for IT Hardware manufacturing. If there is no matured ecosystem, you have to depend on other countries for each and every small thing. To manufacture a laptop, you require 170 components of material. In our language we call it as a bill of material, hardly 10% of the components we have it in our ecosystem here. Even that 10% is very negligible. I don’t think this can be built overnight but still the government of India is trying to do their best with initiatives like ‘Make in India’ which is helping in providing benefits to the local manufacturers.

When it comes to mobility Industry, the government is providing a few benefits but unfortunately for the IT hardware industry, there is an IT agreement between some countries and as per the IT agreement for a mobile manufacturing company, if you import a mobile finished product, you will have to pay a 10% charge as the customer charge, but for IT Hardware that is not possible as India also is a part of this IT agreement.

The industry especially local manufacturers have been restricted by a few MNC’s from participating in many tenders by keeping some certifications like Energy Star etc. But those certifications are not relevant for Indians.

Unnecessary certifications were being implemented, but the manufacturing associations of the IT Industry formed few local bodies, local manufacturers and managed to convince the government to remove such certifications and mandatory clauses.

The government of India is working positively towards Indian manufacturers. However, there should be an increase in component manufacturing industries in India. Component manufacturing events which are mostly held in China should be hosted in India also.

10.According to you what is the impact of current policies w.r.t. manufacturing and Make in India?

I think there are good things about these policies, like removing EPP’s & Energy star certification. Yet, there is a very long way to go. I read an article on changing consumer perception in China and most of the native consumers there have started preferring local brands. If the consumer perception here, changes towards native brands instead of buying the multinational brands then we can highlight Indian brands, and get the same performance at a good price. I think the volumes will definitely increase and there is a good scope to increase our manufacturing capacity. Not only the government initiatives, but also there is a need for consumer perception and the ecosystem for our markets to evolve. I think we are optimistic and there is great scope for our markets.