AT a time when cranky landlines and overworked facsimile machines called the shots in the world of communication, when Internet dial up connections threw tantrums and held you to ransom, when mail still meant postal services and handful of courier guys , two brothers took a risk and a loan of Rs 80,000 from their father to start a venture that catapulted them to an enviable position in the world of computer hardwares and softwares.
It was in 1998 when Chandigarh-based Nishant and Prashant Johar saw immense potential in the IT industry and decided to venture in. Where Nishant leveraged his skills as an engineer, Prashant added value with his technical expertise and commerce background.
“Our father was running a departmental store. The zeal to run a business, do something on our own was in our blood. Thus was born Johar Computers,” says Nishant. Housed in a little office in Sector 15, Johar brothers are one of the top players in north for customisation for high-end PCs and number two for gaming solutions. “Subtract Delhi NCR, and we are number one in north in gaming,” says Prashant.
As the Personal Computer (PC) was just getting warmed up in the late nineties, the brothers saw a huge gap in high end PC market. “No one was giving options to the client as per their budget or space or need in computers. No one was ideating, customising, designing or scaling it to their specifications,” adds Nishant. Their USP: “we never sell the box, always the solution.”
Challenges, however, came in different forms – communication gap, lack of awareness on how to use, maintain and support the technology being the primary. Sourcing from vendors was another exhausting task for it meant endless trips to Mumbai, Delhi, calling vendors in China and Taiwan, and ‘importing’ components through creative alternate channels.
“It was tough getting products into the country, and grey channels were an option. So much has changed today…now we have hundreds of agencies in Delhi who deal with all these hassles on a commission,” shares Prashant.
With an eye on the market and customer’s pain point, the Johar brothers started experimenting on their own PC, researched extensively into components, scouted for appropriate parts, designed from scratch and pilot tested endless products.
“Innovation is a non stop process and demands lot of permutation and combination. We wanted to be a one-stop solution in computers and gaming, and during initial years, there was no Whatsapp or Facebook or Google Adword to make you go viral nor any seed investor to help you scale. It was Diwali melas, exhibitions, ground level marketing, visiting schools, and I remember, the Digital PC Party by Intel,” recalls Prashant.
There were failed experiments too, with satellite connectivity VSAT, with Worldspace radio. “These didn’t work but it never stopped us from trying. And, that’s the point. Failures are part of the journey. Just never say no, be meticulous, have a revenue plan and a back up revenue plan,” they advise.
From sensing storage needs, space, power consumption, gateways to mastering an excellent command over the same, the brothers, in this close to ten-year journey, have been at the helm of ‘digital India’ evolution. “We’ve come a long way from paying Rs 180 per hour for a dial up connection to operating smartphones now,” they
First to develop and assemble an all in one PC whose components were sourced from Vietnam, first to come up with solar powered green PC in 2012 with components sourced from China and Taiwan, Johars, in 2008, were featured by Intel for the computer they customised and fitted in a car.
Into micro components, providing solutions to Internet Service Providers, creating MVPs (Minimal Viable products) for apps under their branch EMobx, and assembling rigs for video editing machines for films like Angrej, Angrej 2, Jatt & Juliet, 9X Tashan, etc, they are champs in custom-making lifestyle machines that match interiors and ambience especially in the hospitality business and swanky office receptions.
India is a billion plus people, which makes it a huge market with insane potential. “Just understand the gap and fill it,” they shoot, sensing one in gaming sector in 2005. “Gamers play for days altogether and their machines get overloaded and worked up. Now, the genre of games and gamers is a fast evolving space, and no one can decipher their language when they come looking for solutions for their very specific problems. We saw potential here and captured the space. For instance, liquid radiators to cool off a gaming machine,” says Prashant.
Today, gamers from Himachal and Rajasthan get their high-end gaming rigs developed from them and original equipment manufactures (OEMs) reach out with their products to them at entry level.
They still don’t treat themselves as startups. “Startup is an idea, we are the executors of the idea. When we took off, there was no definition of a startup. But if it is catering to a vacuum in the market, then yes, we could be a startup,” feels Prashant. Future now holds developing their own product, including a GPS tracking system, smart energy solutions and work towards the next big thing under EMobx – Internet of Things (IOTs).