Founded by Dr Mahesh Gupta, an IIT graduate in mechanical engineering, Kent RO began as a tiny venture in a small room in his house.
Last year, Kent RO Systems generated Rs 830 crore in revenue. Gupta estimates next year the company will close at Rs 940 crore. With an ambitious growth plan, innovative marketing strategies and state-of-the-art technology, his vision is as clear as water itself.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18’s Mangalam Maloo, Dr Mahesh Gupta spoke about the brand’s unique story. Edited excerpts:
Maloo: Let’s talk about some of the initial challenges. You were a serviceman first and then started your business launching a product that didn’t exist. How difficult was the climb?
Gupta: It was very difficult. If I go back to 1998 when I launched it, the price of the RO purifier was Rs 20,000; against a regular purifier which cost Rs 3,000. At seven times the cost, it was a tough sell for that first year. In addition, we were not a brand at that time. People said you might sell the product, but won’t be here to service it when required. But we kept going. In the first year, we may have sold only 200 pieces, but whoever bought those were happy with it and felt it prevented them from visiting the doctor. That gave me confidence. If these 200 people are finding it useful, we will find certainly find success someday.
Maloo: So from there you’ve gone to five lakh this past year?
Maloo: Why is the water purifier market not growing?
Gupta: Even I don’t have an answer. Only 3 percent homes in India have an RO purifier today. In fact, washing machines come at a similar price and every home has one. But, do people really need it? I think a water purifier is a must because it impacts your health, but you can wash your clothes another way too. Eventually, it’s people’s choice. They prefer to pay for convenience than for health, which is unfortunate.
Another reason is that people still believe that boiling is the best way of water purification, which it isn’t. Boiling will not remove things that are soluble in water. If you add salt or sugar in the water and boil it, it won’t come out. Similarly, if you have insecticides and pesticides or dissolved impurities in water, can they come out after boiling? No. But people believe otherwise.
Watch the complete episode here
to find out more about Kent RO’s brand growth as CNBC-TV18’s Disruptors.