It is only fitting that I begin the first article by giving a little glimpse about my team and I. For those of you who do not know me, I am Essa Merchant – the founder and managing director of Advanced Group. I ventured on to this exciting journey of learning and growing in the telecom and distribution business with the launch of pager devices in India. I remember those days like it was only yesterday, the pager was the big rage at the time and was at the bleeding edge of the technology, the "new cool" as the young people today would call it. I founded Advanced Computers and Mobiles India Private Limited (now Advanced Group) with limited funding, just a couple of thousands, and a small workspace I had taken from my dad. He was not convinced and perhaps a bit skeptical of my decision of venturing into this unknown industry, but he still supported me.
In the early days, I would market my products through classified ads. My delivery model is what, I believe, gave me the edge over my competitors. In 1995, in a world before last mile delivery services, I had hired a small fleet of bikers that would allow me to deliver stocks to my customers at a distinguished price and unparalleled speeds even in the heavy the traffic of Mumbai city.
Only a few years before this, even landlines had been a rarity; the few people in the neighborhood in possession of one would often receive and relay messages for their neighbors. The landline had only recently achieved wide-scale adoption and a new era of communication was already upon us – the mobile phone. My distribution model and network of customers were already in place to start the distribution and sales of this revolutionary new product! The journey from there to today, of practically seeing everyone with a high-speed internet enabled phone, has been very exciting.
During my time of service, I have worked with multiple brands and have learnt from many distinguished people that I have had the privilege to meet – my peers, partners and competitors. Being one of the early members of this industry, we were faced with many first-time problems that our job required us to solve, we worked out distribution plans tailored for the geography, planned delivery schedules, figured out payment modes, etc.
We have come a long way since. Today, the Advanced Group not only has a pan-India presence but it has also built relations globally. International trade now forms a sizeable portion of our business. The work, till today, yet continues!
My team deserves considerable appreciation and gratitude for this, being with me through thick and thin. For without their help, this dream of substantiating my business into something big, would have remained a dream. We have tasted success together and faced failure and learnt from our mistakes together.
We endeavor to continue to contribute to the Indian economy by creating more jobs. As we head towards an Omni-Channel future for distribution, we continue to invest heavily in the development of these new-age platforms to enable streamlined distribution across the breadth of India.
I would like to invite you for a fireside chat that will be my blog, where I will candidly share small tit-bits, experiences and stories from my life.