Micromax has bought a ‘significant minority stake’ in a local analytics company and is close to investing in a Silicon Valley-based startup that operates in the online price comparison space, as it aims to transform into a services company from just a mobile phone vendor.
But he said the company is scouting for more, and can invest between $0.5 million and $20 million in a startup that can be an early-stage venture, a matured one or something in between. It is looking for a stake between 5% and 26%; the higher range will give voting rights and board membership.
The closest competitor to Samsung for the No. 1 spot in India’s smartphone market wants to invest in and incubate startups while leveraging and imbibing their capabilities. The startups will get discovery and scale of the Indian market and access to its ecosystem.
Investing in startups is the logical next step for Micromax, which has an 18% market share in India, to differentiate itself in the crowded and fastest growing smartphone market of the world. As international rivals including Korean behemoth Samsung, China’s Xiaomi and local competitors like Lava invest in research and development for creating their mark in a commoditized market, Micromax will have to strengthen its play — in R&D and local manufacturing — to maintain its lead, analysts say.
“We will build some technology and buy some for moving beyond devices into services that offer granular analytical capability of consumer data usage and consumer behavior,” Sharma said. “The services will be used for Micromax and Yu brand of smartphones and the first signs of integration will be visible within three to five months.”
Having taken the first step of establishing a partnership between Yu Televentures and Cyanogen for an operating system different from Android, Micromax has set up a five-member merger and acquisition team headed by Kumar Shah.
The team is evaluating and talking to multiple startups in India, Asia, Europe and the Silicon Valley, in areas of healthcare, gaming and entertainment besides analytics and comparison shopping.