Aakash Creator To Deliver Talk On Lessons Learned
The lessons to be learnt from doing business in India, especially with the government as your client, can be immense. Just ask Suneet Singh Tuli, the Toronto-based entrepreneur, most famously known as the man behind Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet computer. “There are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of moving departments,” says Tuli, who has come under fire recently for failing to deliver on the hype built around the transformative $35 device that was released last year.
“It’s interesting that while the minister might set one vision, you get entities like IIT Rajasthan that will move off on a different tangent,” he says, referring to the spat between his company DataWind and the college, which has reportedly yet to pay for receiving the first batch of Aakash tablets. Tuli will be in town on Wednesday, March 21 to deliver a talk organised by the Asia Society on manufacturing in India (Aakash is made in Hyderabad), and the trials and tribulations of the process. Of the negative reviews, which largely panned the device for its operating system when it was rolled out late last year, Tuli says “the reviewers and people that critiqued it were not necessarily going to be the users of the product”.
However, the UbiSlate 7+, as it’s officially known, will be re-released this April with upgrades, and sold to the public for Rs3,000 (the government version will cost Rs2,276). Tuli says despite the naysayers, they’re already sitting on 3.2 million bookings for the commercial version, and that had he the option of a re-do, he would still pick India—as opposed to China—as his manufacturing location of choice. “A lot of non believers said it couldn’t be done at that price point, and that Indians couldn’t do it,” he says. “This set up a challenge and exactly for those reasons, it was important for the product to be made in India.”
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