Q. According to you what is the current healthcare industry scenario? (Water Purifier Industry)
It was the late 90s when KENT RO started its voyage, and there was no such industry existed in India by the name of WATER PURIFIERS. A handful brands were trying their fate in this sector by selling very conventional purifiers through the door to door marketing. Who would have thought that in a couple of years, Indian water purifier industry will become one of the most lucrative sectors for national and international consumer durable brands to peep in and have a pie of over 3500 crore industry.
The journey of Indian water purifier industry started with the genesis of brand Kent RO. A brainchild of an IITian Dr. Mahesh Gupta who left his well-paid job to start making water purifiers in India. If today one is able to have access to RO water purifiers equipped with multiple purification techniques, then that has been made possible only by Dr. Mahesh Gupta who designed RO water purifier with the combination of 3 technologies to make it suitable for treating every type of water irrespective of source.
Q. How big is the scope of purification products in the industry?
The market for water purifiers today has seen a remarkable growth globally amid the acute shortage of clean drinking water that is posing a big challenge to many countries.
Given the increasing awareness and largely untapped market potential, the sector is growing at a CAGR of more than 24 percent. The industry is projected to hit sales of nearly 2.48 million units in the next two years. According to Techsci report, RO water purifier is the largest segment accounting for 42 percent of the market in 2011, while offline water purifiers contributed for about 20 percent of the market. However, by 2017, offline water purifier segment is expected to grow at a very rapid pace and increase its share to about 38 percent of the total market and is a key focus area for water purifier manufacturers, due to the large target customer base it offers, is expected to continue its rapid growth.
Today, as pioneers of the mineral RO Technology, Kent RO has captured 40% market share and has changed the paradigm in a market which was dominated by ultra-violet (UV) systems. The company has set a great distribution network, putting Kent products at all retail outlets like Big Bazar and good white stores across the country and now also easily available on the web. The company is also exporting to Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and the Middle East. Company’s export turnover is around Rs 25 crore and will be targeting at Rs 50 crore exports in the next two years.
Kent RO is also working on newer products with health and purification as the base. The firm is looking to grow in segments such as Car Air Purifiers, Air Purifiers, Bed Cleaners, Cold Pressed Juicers, Fruit & Vegetable Purifiers, Gravity Water Purifiers and Water Softeners. Manufacturing of each and every product has been done here, including the R&D, and we hold patents on all products.
Q. Healthy Body Leeds to a Healthy soul, how do you promote that?
Kent is working from day one on a mission Drink Pure, East Pure and Breathe Pure. Hence, each and every product of Kent RO is designed and sold to fulfill these three objectives.
Q. What do you find the most interesting in this industry? Give few lines about yourself?
Today, the penetration of RO water purifiers is hardly 1.5 per cent of the total households. But, we are hopeful that the demand will rise steeply because of the deteriorating water quality, increasing awareness of health hazards related to impure water and also a good feedback from users of RO purifiers.
One of the major challenges is to educate the consumers about the need for RO purification. Even today, boiling is considered the best method for purifying water, but consumers should understand that boiling does not remove dissolved impurities.RO is essential to remove dissolved impurities. Moreover, the consumer mindset has largely been reactive rather than proactive. People usually look for water purifiers only when they encounter waterborne diseases. It is a challenge to create awareness that it is a must to purify their water using RO purifiers to prevent the onset of waterborne diseases.
The Genesis of the Brand
Dr. Mahesh Gupta, – An IIT-Kanpur graduate from a Class of 1975 — who was happy working for the Indian Oil, this is nothing short of a dream today. Having gained sufficient expertise during his 10-year stint IOL, Dr. Gupta quit in the mid-1980s to turn his passion into an enterprise. His parents were livid at such an ‘adventurous’ move. But he had ideas and confidence even though he didn’t have money.
In 1998, when his teenage children, fell prey to jaundice, Dr. Gupta was forced to look for a water purifier to install at his south Delhi home. He set out to search the market. The stuff available in the market left him unimpressed. Market leading purifiers then and even now, mainly work on Ultra Violet principle. Essentially, in these water purifiers, water goes through UV Light which attacks the bacteria and kills them, giving customers bacteria free water. As a concerned parent, Dr. Gupta was very well aware that this was not enough. With greater industrial activity groundwater had become contaminated with impurities that dissolve in water such arsenic, rust, pesticides and fluorides. Take salt or sugar for example, once dissolved into the water you can’t see them. The UV Light method can’t rid the water of such dissolved substances. He wanted to make a purifier that removes all these.
So, Dr. Gupta decided to noodle on the technology and flesh out his own ideas. It helped that he was by then running SS Engendering, a petroleum products company, his first entrepreneurial venture after leaving his job from Indian Oil. After several trials and six months of hard work, he zeroed in on a technology-reverse osmosis (RO)-which promised the results he wanted, and the first KENT purifier was born in March 1999. Recognizing its potential, and in order to promote a healthy and happy life for other families, he decided to market this invention.
So, from there, he started his expeditions from a small garage where he used to design these purifiers with his own patented technology. And that’s how Kent RO came into being. Kent RO now is a rupee 800 crore company, which has grown immensely.
Q. What is the next trend in the purification industry?
The concern over air pollution is in the forefront. Air pollution is reaching alarming levels in India and air quality plunging to the ‘severe’ category. Air pollution in the country is at hazardous levels, breaching safety limits and prompting severe health concerns among the residents, particularly pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions and heart diseases. Some immediate preventive steps which are taken by Delhites are opting for an air purifier for home, and Car air purifiers while on the go. The popularity of air purifiers is growing steadily. So, this is the next trend in the industry.
Q. What is your next step towards a pure life?
After Pure Water, Kent RO is upbeat for Clean Air. We have come up with a whole new range of HEPA Based Air Purifiers. Air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting the developing and the developed countries alike. Consumers are affected by pollution in the air, and we would like people to get relief from this. So we are providing a solution. We are hopeful that this demand will increase in the near future. As this kind of technology would not just help people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses but will contribute to reducing the rate of respiratory diseases in the capital city.
By-Dr. Mahesh Gupta, Chairman
KENT RO Systems Ltd.