ReNew IT: Impacting lives the digital way!

IJ Anita Tejwani
Published on: 23rd April 2015
In 2008, on meeting Mr Shiva Nanda – MD of Newport Computers (USA), Mukund was acknowledged about his business and how his company bought back old computers, harvested the working spares and supplied them to companies which do repair, after sales support etc. Around the same time, Raghav, who is now the co-founder of ReNew IT, had to upgrade his computers to run the latest software applications. Raghav’s old computers were still functional and his security guard wanted it for his children. That was how the seed was sown. “We realized that if we could source used computers from large organizations, refurbish them and supply them at affordable prices to millions of Indians – we can bridge the digital divide in India,” says Mukund.

There have been different challenges from the day we started on this journey. It is not very easy to start any business in India and hence the duo faced various challenges from the inception of their journey. It took them more than a year to get all the required approvals from various government bodies since they didn’t want to pay any bribes. “Once we had all the approvals, in the initial days, sourcing was a big challenge. One of the hardest things of starting up is getting the first client. Everyone wants to know who you have already done business with before trusting the credibility and giving business,” mentions Raghav.

“It took some time for people to understand what we were trying to accomplish. There were comparisons with us being similar to kabadiwalas. It takes time for people’s mindsets to change,” Mukund states. But today, people understand and appreciate their idea and that has resulted in the growth of their business as a result of referrals from satisfied customers. They even have some customers from abroad who have bought these affordable computers from ReNew IT.

Initially, Newport Computers, who taught the ropes of the business to the duo, did hand holding for almost two years. The IIM, Calcutta alumni network had been extremely supportive when they were trying to find their first few clients by connecting them to the right people in various organizations. “There have been various other well wishers who have given us opportunities to speak in various forums which have helped us greatly,” the duo express.
Mr Shiva Nanda
It was pretty exciting for both of them to sell their first computer on getting an order of around 50 computers from a corporate. Till then, they didn't have any employees other than the duo themselves and Mr Neelakantaiah (operations manager) on board. “We personally got down to refurbishing these computers. Then we started telling people we knew, hired some people to hand out leaflets near bus stops etc. Looking back, we left no stone unturned to get our first sale,” they smile with pride in their eyes having made ReNew IT stand on this level today.

At ReNew IT one can buy computers starting from as low as Rs 4,500/- for a full set – but unlike the unorganized sector, they are an ISO certified company. They ensure that their valued customers get good quality products along with after sales support. They are the only Microsoft Registered Refurbisher in the country who can provide the genuine Microsoft licenses at discounted prices along with the refurbished computers.

In 5 years, Renew IT holds the sales of around 10,000 computers impacting over 50,000 people and aims to impact a million lives in the next 5 years. The two main aspects accomplished by them are:

1) Providing access to some of the economically weaker sections of the society to buy their first computer

2) Preventing premature disposal of these computers thereby conserving natural resources 

The duo share the impacts that were witnessed,

1) Rural and government schools - We have supplied computers to many rural and government schools whose students are now using computers for the first time

2) Students – Many parents have now been able to buy computers for their children to give them a better chance to their dream IT jobs

3) Creating more entrepreneurs – Have created Micro-entrepreneurs who now provide AMC and after sales support

4) NGOs - AMBA, an NGO which trains mentally retarded community to do data entry work. Because of the low cost computers provided by us, they have been able to train over hundreds of mentally retarded people who now earn a livelihood through dignity. They feel privileged to work closely with many NGOs who are doing a great job in making India a better place.

It has been an exciting journey for the duo as they believe in assigning works according to their strengths and this helps them to support each other through many ups and downs. “Since there is no ego, we get more work done. This is very crucial for the success of our business,” says Raghav.

It’s been 5 years since the inception of ReNew IT where these young minds are always looking out to improve on their systems and processes and trying to add more value in their service for their customers. The driving force behind any of the transformations and efforts is their Mission which is “To Make Computers Affordable for everyone”.
A manager with 7 technicians and the co-founders work as a team to accomplish their mission in the best way possible. These efforts haven’t gone in vain as Raghav has been a speaker at TedxVIT, Vellore while Mukund won the FKCCI Innovation Excellence Awards in 2014 and CNBC Masterpreneur Season 2 along with being the Winner of Young Entrepreneur 2014 from National Foundation for Entrepreneurship Development (NFED). “We felt extremely honoured while receiving the award of FKCCI from the Honourable Union Cabinet Minister of MSME – Sri Kalraj Mishra,” they share.

AMBA is one of the first NGOs who were supplied computers from ReNew IT. This NGO financially empowers the mentally challenged community by training them to do data entry work. “The kids there are so excited to have laptops from us. The best part is that they remember our uniform and whenever anyone from our team goes to AMBA all the kids come and shake hands with us and give a million dollar smile. The satisfaction we get from that is immeasurable. We have supplied computers to many schools and NGOs and the kids there are using computers for the first time. This we think is our greatest achievement – giving access to good quality affordable computers to these kids which will definitely change their lives,” says the duo.

The next stage of our growth would be about providing local support to our customers across the country. We will be focusing on fostering support partners across the country to help our customers who will predominantly be first time computer users.

“With 9.5% IT penetration, India boasts of a $100 billion dollar IT industry. If the IT penetration can be increased to 30% like China or 45% like Brazil, we can all imagine the impact it will have on every level of the Indian economy. This is where we believe that we can contribute towards creating a brighter future for millions of Indians.” - Mukund BS, Founder of ReNew IT.
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