The story of Dr Mahesh Gupta started in 1985, from a small room in his house, with nothing but dreams and self-belief. He had mere Rs. 20000 savings from his job with IOCL to invest. His first invention was in Petroleum conservation instruments, where he earned fame and half a dozen patents to his credit. In the late 1990s, Dr Gupta found Kent Ro System. This first-generation entrepreneur now the distinct credit to shape up India’s unorganised Water Purifier market to a fastest-growing Rs. 3500 crore industry. Over the year, Dr Gupta has diversified into other products like a Vegetable Cleaner, Vacuum Cleaner, water softener, air purifiers and many more. Today Dr Gupta provides services in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, the Middle East, and Kenya. In a conversation with CXO Outlook, Dr Gupta talks about his expansion plans, growth strategy, new products we can expect from Kent and many more.
The pandemic has affected industries across the globe. What has been the challenges you faced as a business leader? How did you overcome those challenges?
The consumer sentiments were varied. While yes, most vertical brands and companies were impacted by the pandemic, but now there is a paradigm change as they have found alternative ways to reach their consumers.
Digital space has picked up immensely. Online sales as a channel is fast growing and will continue to witness more growth, as most brands have innovated and transformed the changing demands of the consumers. Also, those who have transformed and innovated are the ones who have survived and also, on expansion mode, those who have not been able to transform have been left out. We are in a kind of segment that continues to thrive as health is still a priority; be it our water purifiers, air purifiers, or smart kitchen appliances, all have their own benefits and something that the consumers need all the more.
Kent is on a major expansion spree and is set to double up its exports. What is your growth strategy?
The company is planning to double its exports. We export products to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Nepal and has also entered GCC Market. There is immense demand for our product both within the country and outside. And with an effective supply chain, we are able to meet this demand. Also, as the e-commerce market is evolving in the wake of the pandemic, we have given our digital front a push as well.
What was the motive behind diversifying into the artificial intelligence segment with the launch of Kent Cam Attendance?
Well, it was today’s fast-paced life and consumer needs that we stepped into this segment. We felt the time was right and that we as a company felt confident that we could ensure safety at all levels. Also, this product is in sync with our philosophy to ensure the well-being of people. We believe that safety is needed at all levels. The pandemic triggered us to come up with this product.
Offices are hotbeds for the spread of viruses and bacteria, thus infecting most employees within a span of a few hours. Since contactless ways are the new normal, the Kent CamAttendance is an endeavour in that direction; This unique and revolutionary solution is to help manage attendance without risking infection via surface transmission.
It offers a very simple solution for time and attendance needs. Kent CamAttendance is a touchless attendance system that uses facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence to completely eliminate the need for tactile interaction as experienced in biometric or manual systems.
The Next-Gen touchless face attendance includes Kent CamAttendance Face Recognition (FR) 8” Device, Web-based cloud app and Employee mobile application.
The company also penetrated to automotive security space with the launch of KENT Cameye. How successful have you been in this space?
You must be aware that biometric attendance systems have been banned post-COVID-19 pandemic, as they are considered a critical transmitter of virus/bacteria. Common surface (fingerprint reader) is touched by all employees, leading to a ban on its usage by corporates, including the government. This has led most organisations to switch back to manual attendance, which is error-prone and difficult to manage, especially for medium and large-sized organisations. Hence Kent CamAttendance is filling this lag and is doing pretty well with government offices, medium and large-sized organisations which are the target audience.
We have received a great response from corporate companies, government getting a great response as this product is the need of the hour.
What are the new products we can expect from Kent in this financial year?
Our products are a result of a thorough R&D and in-depth understanding of the needs of consumers, and we have a firm roadmap to launch a couple of new exciting products this year. But it is too early to speak about our upcoming products. But we can definitely say as usual we will diversify our product range and keep servicing our customer.
What are the positives that you have taken from the lockdown period? How will this experience help you to provide a better quality of service in the future?
Well, the most important positive I have taken during lockdown is “Connecting with customers better than ever before” & Communicate transparently with our customers.
The ideal way is to stay transparent with your consumers about what your business is going through. Customers can empathise with companies facing a crisis as long as the communication is transparent. Communicate with customers to understand their perception of the product/solution offered by the brand.
Dr Gupta was a very bright student who did mechanical engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1975. Subsequently, he got a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) Dehradun. His earlier career begins in 1977 with one of the most prestigious Indian oils corporation. However, Dr Gupta left this illustrious career and started a risky journey into the business of manufacturing instruments for conservation oil. He went commercial under the brand name Kent Oil Meter which is still carrying on successfully in the market.
Belongs to an average service class family, Dr Gupta was the first member in his family who dared to choose business over the job. The year 1998 proved to a turning point in the life of Dr Gupta when he laid the foundation of Kent RO SYSTEMS by inventing a water purifier based on Reverse Osmosis Technology. Today, with almost 40% market share in RO Mineral + RO segment, Kent RO Systems Ltd. is the most dynamic water purifier brand in India.
Dr Gupta is so passionate about his technological achievements. He was conferred with a Doctorate degree from Sri Sri University Orissa for his contribution in giving healthy drinking water in ruler and urban areas. Today, Dr Gupta is focused on spreading awareness about how people get sick by polluted water. He is an optimistic person who is still working on the Kent Ro to improve the features.
Journey with Kent
A Delhi-based first-generation entrepreneur, Dr Gupta, charted out on a new enterprise after jaundice gripped his children in a posh South Delhi colony. Realising that drinking water was the culprit, Dr Gupta researched and analysed the available water purifiers in the market. After several trials, he made his own water purifier and became confident that his product is good enough to be marketed.
The journey started from a small garage, now has charted out a big churn for itself in the entrepreneurial world. Kicked off from the voyage of self-made RO system, Dr Gupta has today stamped its supremacy on all its competitors by inventing and introducing the ultimate technological marvel – The KENT+ Computer Controlled range of water purification.
During his journey of discovery and innovation, Dr Gupta also adopted the philosophy of providing wholesome healthcare and well-being for mankind by adding an array of Ozone-based food and air purifiers to his product range. Thus, he brought pure water to drink, pure food to eat and pure air to breathe. Healthcare is not just a business for Dr Gupta, but it is a passion, in fact, the very purpose of the existence of KENT.
Today, Kent RO is the most dynamic and visible water Purifier Company that, over the years, has enjoyed the Bollywood brand ambassadors like Hema Malini, Esha Doel, Boman Irani, Ahana Doel etc. Kent’s vision of making each family a ‘Healthy and Happy Family’ is supported through this. Kent promotes the values of purity, the importance of water for health and keeping beauty and vigour intact with good drinking water.
- Awards for KENT RO
- India’s Most Attractive Brand 2013
- Asia’s most Promising Brand 2012-13
- India’s Most Trusted Brand 2012-13
- Innovative 100 – Certificate of excellence 2013
- Child Most Popular Awards 2013 – Most Popular Safe Water Equipment
- Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2006-07, 2007-08 & 2011-12 by UNESCO and Water Digest
- “The Golden Peacock” Award for the best Eco-Innovation in 2007.
- Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2019