He is a pioneer, a dreamer and an achiever. Sunil a former student of Harvard Business School, graduated from Punjab University. The son of a parliamentarian Sat Paul Mittal, Sunil did not want to follow his father’s footsteps. Sunil started in business (making cycle parts in Ludhiana, India) in 1976 at the age of 18 with borrowed capital of Rs 20,000. Later he started operating from Delhi and Mumbai, india, mainly importing and distributing products.
His imports mainly included portable generators from Japan. In 1982 when government banned the import of portable generators then he introduced the push button phones in India and by the early 1990s he was making fax machines, cordless phones and telecom gear. After been awarded license for mobile phone services Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was formed in 1995 to offer cellular services under the name AirTel which is now India’s largest telecom business operator. In November 2006, he struck a joint venture deal with Wal-Mart, the US retail giant, to start a number of retail stores across India.
Sunil Mittal, father of twin sons and a daughter operates his business with his two brothers Rakesh and Rajan. About his early business life he says that the period from 1976-1985 was a period of great struggle, a period of great pain but a period of great learning and it was not so easy to establish oneself in the market as it was not as open as today but when they went in telecom in 1985-86 and manufactured telephone instruments, there was clearly a vision and foresight that this industry will do well.
In spite of his deep involvement in work, Mittal the man, is calm, seldom ruffled and very down to earth. He says he achieves a sense of detachment and peace with regular practice of yoga. Sunil Mittal says that to be successful one has to have a positive frame of mind through which he has made virtue of extremely bad situations. For his business model he admires the uncompromising image of Tatas and business blend of Ambanis. He has been very conscious about his social obligations and have set up the Bharti Foundation. In Madhya Pradesh, India, his Bharti AirTel has funded 50-odd schools.
He has also given Rs 200 million to IIT Delhi for building a Bharti School of Technology and Management. Sunil Mittal has been honoured with several awards for his contributions. He was chosen as one of the top entrepreneurs in the world for the year 2000 and amongst ‘Stars Of Asia’, by ‘Business Week’, he received IT Man of the Year Award 2002 from Dataquest and CEO Of the Year, 2002 Award (World HRD Congress), he received `CEO of the Year’ award in the service provider category at the Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific ICT 2006 awards.
He is the member of National Council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Chairman, Indo-US Joint Business Council, Member, Advisory Committee constituted by Ministry of IT. Bharti AirTel Bharti Tele-Ventures Limited (BTVL) is India’s largest Telecom Business operator with more than 64. 4 million subscribers as of April 2008. Bharti Airtel since its inception has been at the forefront of technology and has steered the course of the telecom sector in the country with its world class products and services.
Sunil Mittal’s optimism, hard work ; clear vision has led the company towards great success. Such leadership has motivated the company’s employees towards achieving its goals. The company has been instrumental in bringing down the high STD/ISD, cellular rates in the country by rolling the countries first private national as well as international long-distance service under the brand name IndiaOne. In 2001, the company entered into a joint venture with Singapore Telecom International for a $650-million submarine cable project, the countries first ever under sea cable link connecting Chennai in India and Singapore.
The businesses at Bharti Airtel have been structured into three individual strategic business units (SBU’s) – Mobile Services, Airtel Telemedia Services ; Enterprise Services. The mobile business provides mobile ; fixed wireless services using GSM technology across 23 telecom circles while the Airtel Telemedia Services business offers broadband ; telephone services in 94 cities. The Enterprise services provide end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national ; international long distance services to carriers.
Marketing of Airtel has been very adaptive and focused with the changing demands and consumer perception. In 1999 after the new telecom policy came into effect, replacing license fees with a revenue-sharing scheme and license period becoming 20 years Airtel’s communication changed from “power” to “touch tomorrow”. In 2002, Airtel signed on music composer A. R. Rahman and changed its tune to “Live every moment” which became the most downloaded ringtone in India.
The following year the company adopted the “Express yourself” which is also its current tagline. Airtel was the first cellular service provider to start customer centres (called Airtel connects), where customers could pay their bills, apply for new connections and touch and feel new handset models. Future Plans Personally, Sunil Mittal wants to play a larger role in society without entering politics and wants to do something for his intellectual enrichment.
He has set a target of 125 million subscribers by 2010. The company plans to launch many new products and with exciting offerings, the management expects figures to rise very fast. Bharti also plans to offer direct-to-home (DTH) services and IPTV by the end of the current fiscal. Other than DTH, Bharti plans to offers new products in broadband internet access as well. The company has even planned to enter the telecom market in Sri Lanka.