These bulk bookings, Tuli, is looking to cash in, by raising funds from private equity investors for his company. “Some investors have expressed interest. We are looking at a dilution of about 10%-15% stake,” he adds.
The bulk orders and expressions of interest for the tablet are from companies such as Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Accenture, HFCL, CNet Solutions, Medanta Medicity and Rajasthan Patrika. Besides, many colleges such as SDM College, Karnataka and countries such as Italian government have asked Datawind, for orders ranging in thousands of tablets for their IT education projects, as per sources.
“We have order bookings of over 21 lakh units, which translates into orders worth Rs 700 crore from consumers. Besides, we have bulk bookings from commercial and educational enterprises, whom we would be selling the tablet with better specifications at almost double the price,” said Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind.
The current version of Aakash is selling at Rs 2500 online, and the next version is expected to be priced at Rs 3000 per unit.
Tuli says he has supplied about 10,000 tablets to the government which are yet to convert into sales. “We are yet to receive the payment from IIT Rajasthan for the tablets, which is almost half a million dollars,” he says. In addition, Datawind has given a bank guarantee worth Rs 50 lakhs to the government. “We can’t supply the rest of the devices unless we get a test criterion from IIT Rajasthan,” he adds.
Datawind would need the private equity money as it has already announced setting up of three more factories in Noida, Cochin and Hyderabad, besides the existing one in Hyderabad, with its vendor Quad. “Together with our vendor we have invested about $3 million to set up factories for Indian government’s low cost computing project,” he adds.
In all this melee, his list of retail and commercial orders is soaring at the rate of 50,000 per day, or Rs 25 crore, worth of pre-sales booking in two days.
On the other hand, IIT Rajasthan is yet to supply the test criterion to Datawind, for the next lot of 90,000 tablets, even as Datawind approaches expiry of its letter of credit by end this month.
“We would like the government’s Aakash project to succeed as our reputation is also at stake with it,” Tuli adds.
Besides, the success or failure of the Aakash project, may in turn impact the valuation of his company, and the interest of investors he is trying to lure.