Seventeen years ago, Sathish Babu, a young salesman of vacuum cleaners and water purifiers, set up a small store selling mobile handsets close to one of Chennai's wealthy neighborhoods. In the days of high call rates and a dominant grey market, Sathish Babu wanted to set up a store close to the city's elite who were the primary cellphone audience. Babu, is now the founder and managing director of the Rs 1,100-crore mobile retail chain UniverCell Telecommunication which runs over 410 showrooms and around 60 franchisee outlets, manages an advertising budget of Rs 30 crores with Tamil actor Madhavan as a brand ambassador.
After having established its presence in the South, UniverCell is looking to expand to the West and the North. The Company has lined up three formats - the first a buy-off-the-shelf format, the second a more lifestyle oriented store offering look-see-touch-feel of the products and the third, branded UniverCell Sync, a 2,500 sq.ft. format, which will also sell accessories such as small printers and pre-loaded music memory cards. UniverCell's will also be launching its own brand of tablets. The new product is expected to hit the market during the festive season and will be priced below Rs 5,000.