Pune-based B B Somani saw an opportunity in the area of refilling printer cartridges when his office printer ran out of ink. When he found that refilled cartridges were not available at a reasonable price, he decided he had found his calling in life. Today his company, Abee Info-Consumables, has found a niche in the country and is planning to expand its operations to countries like Singapore, Dubai and the UK with a new range of mice, keyboards and CD-writers.
BB Somani remembers the year 1984 very well. This was the year when Rajiv Gandhi, India’s late prime minister, ushered the era of technology in the country. And it was a few years later that Somani decided that IT was the field he should be in. Abee Info-Consumables started its humble journey into manufacturing of printer ribbons and refilling inkjet cartridges in 1991.
Somani started Abee Info-Consumables with the help of his wife and another employee. While he looked after the management of the business, his wife assisted him with the finances. Today he employs over 80 people at the office and factory.
A law graduate, Somani came to Pune in 1979 and completed his post graduation in advanced law costing. Soon after this, he joined a small company as accounts manager. And it was here the idea of starting his own business took roots in his mind.
Company: Abee Info-Consumables
Address: 3rd Floor, Akshay, 156-1/B, Mangalwar
Tel: 020-6132842, 6132875
Web site: www.abeeinfo.com
Year of start-up: 1991
Products and services: Manufacturers of printer ribbons, inkjet and LaserJet cartridges and refill kits as well as CD-ROMs
One incident changes it all
While discharging his official duties, a simple incident occurred. A printer ribbon ran out of ink. Somani learnt that there was no authorized supplier who could refill the cartridge. “When I found somebody who could refill the ribbon, he took three days to do the work. After speaking to the supplier, I learnt that refilling was a short and easy process. At the same time it was invaluable as the life of the printer ribbon depended on it,” recalls
Sensing that this was an unexplored area for business, Somani quit his job and set up Info-Abee Consumables. He advertised that his company would refill a cartridge at a price as low as Rs 28 where others were doing the same at Rs 150. This did rub many people involved in the industry the wrong way, but it also got Somani a very large and loyal clientele.
The first thing Somani realized after setting up the shop was the lack of customer awareness with respect to printer ribbons and ink cartridges. “People just were not aware that those expensive cartridges could be reused,” he says. To increase this awareness, he decided to show all his customers how cartridges were refilled.
From consumables to peripherals
Since its inception, Abee has diversified into various business streams. In 1994 the company got its ISO 9000 certification. And a year later, Somani came out with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
By December this year Abee will launch its own range of mice, keyboards and CD writers. “These will be manufactured at our factory at Taiwan,” says Somani. And with these products, we will also be able to realize our dream of expanding our operations throughout the world. “To begin with, our products will be sold in the markets of Singapore, Dubai and the UK,” he adds.
Somani recalls that his company’s turnover for the first fiscal was a mere Rs 3 lakh, but it kept increasing steadily. In 1999-2000 the company registered a turnover of Rs 4.72 crore and he has set a target of Rs 6 crore for 2000-01. Though this sounds just a marginal increase, Somani says that he would rather keep an achievable focus, than stating fantastic figures, which will be difficult to achieve.