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It pays to tinker around with gadgets

September 23, 2004

Vinod Moorjani has been a gizmo freak for as long as he can remember.

As a youngster, he would eagerly scan various science and technology magazines sent to him by his US-based cousin. When he visited Hong Kong and Singapore and saw the varieties of laptops and notebooks available there, he realised a business opportunity was knocking.

In partnership with a friend, Moorjani established V N Techno Structure to import gizmos and retail them in the Indian market at competitive prices.

The company has now opened a fancy showroom in Delhi, Gizmo World, to stock its products, and plans more in the next couple of years. With a turnover of Rs 3 crore (Rs 30 million), Moorjani has discovered that it does pay to tinker around with gadgets.

My family is Delhi-based. My father had stationery and departmental stores in Rajouri Gardens, and there was naturally the option of joining his business. But I was always enthusiastic about the idea of doing something else.

From an early age, I had been interested in gizmos and gadgets. Of course, at the time I was growing up and things weren't as technologically advanced as today.

Also, many international products hadn't made their way to India. So at that time, I would get excited every time I saw even a new car stereo. But my interest grew until it became an obsession.

When I was a youngster, my father presented me with a laptop and I was quite excited about it -- though compared to today's models it was very big and bulky.

Exposure to international magazines opened my eyes to what a huge gap there was between gadgets available in the Indian market and internationally.

I realised there were potential buyers in India. After I finished my graduation I went on a trip to Hong Kong, with Rs 15,000 in hand. It was partly a vacation but I also wanted to see what latest gadgets were available in the market there.

After visiting many shops and making comparative analyses, I picked up a second-hand laptop. When I returned and compared it to what was available in Indian stores, I realised there was a business opportunity.

So I set up V N Techno Structure in association with my friend Nitin Kapoor. This was around eight years ago; I was just 21 then.

We pooled in Rs 10,000 each from our savings and also applied for a business loan. To start with, we began sourcing products locally -- from people we knew who were frequent travellers to Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

We also bought from second-hand products from embassies -- when consuls and diplomats are leaving the country, they generally have products they want to sell off.

Our main focus was on notebooks, laptops and related products. Realising that our products would have to be competitively priced in order to grow the business, we cut our margins to as little as possible. I also made occasional trips abroad and built contacts with manufacturers and wholesalers.

Through word of mouth, our clientele started to increase until I decided the time was right to set up a concept store, which would have a range of IT accessories and gadgets under one roof.

So we opened our retail outlet, Gizmo World, a few months ago. It's a multi-brand outlet; we stock the latest products from Sony, LG, Toshiba and others. While we don't have an official tie-up with any of these companies, all our products are imported through legal channels, and we pay full import duty.

One of our unique selling propositions is the quality of our after-sales service.

All our products come with a service warranty of between one and two years, and we have specially trained engineers from companies like Sony to cater to customers' needs.

What next? I plan to open a second Gizmo World in Gurgaon next year -- that's where the major corporate offices are, and most of our customers are high-level executives.

We will then move into Mumbai and the other metros. But first, in the next couple of months I intend to start a gaming zone in the Delhi store. So far, most of our products have belonged to the notebook/laptop category, as well as iPods, palmtops and speakers but I plan to get into computer games hardware and software soon.

As told to Jai Arjun Singh

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