What would you do if an LED bulb in your house becomes dysfunctional? The most probable answer would be to carelessly toss it in the dustbin and buy a new one. A 22-year-old English honours student from Algapur village, however, thought a little differently. Rohit Bhattacharjee’s curiosity over one damaged bulb led him to establish an LED bulb manufacturing unit, and to fund this venture, he even sold his bike.
Rohit, who started his R B Illuminations just before the COVID-19 lockdown, has now employed seven people, and sells around 500 bulbs a day, earning Rs 2.5 lakh a month.
“Around January 2020, the LED bulb in my room became dysfunctional. The electronic shop selling these bulbs was a bit far from my village. Out of curiosity, I tried to open the bulb and look at its components but didn’t find much. I looked at YouTube videos to understand the elements and functions of the components,” he says.
‘For a social cause’
There weren’t too many components, Rohit says, and understanding their role in illuminating the bulb was the only challenge. “The drivers, cap, chip and body were its main elements, and their capacities differed. None of the components needed any processing, but they did demand careful assembling. I thought that instead of buying a new one, why not set up a unit to manufacture LED bulbs altogether,” he says.
But to fund his venture, Rohit, who is in his second year of college, needed money. Both his parents were retired government teachers, and couldn’t offer much support. “We were not aware of our son’s plans, as he preferred not to disclose many details. He told us he was selling his bike, which we had gifted him, for Rs 65,000. He asked us for financial support, and that we should trust him. We managed to give him Rs 3.5 lakh from our savings,” says Pulak, Rohit’s father. The space for the unit came from a small piece of land adjacent to the house.
Pulak says Rohit has always been troubled by the state of unemployment in their village and been inclined to do something for a social cause. “When we learned that his idea was to set up an LED bulb unit and employ people, we were scared. We have never ventured into this sector and didn’t know anything about it. But Rohit assured us he would work something out and not let the investment money go in vain,” he adds.
Rather than demotivate his son and ask him to focus on studies, Pulak decided to encourage the idea, and give Rohit a chance.
A unique aspect
Initially, Rohit struggled to source components locally, and eventually found vendors from Delhi to supply the equipment. “By February-end, the equipment had arrived. I also managed to make LED bulbs after a few attempts, and made 50 all by myself,” he tells The Better India, adding that the first three bulbs were used to illuminate the rooms of his home.
As the lockdown began easing in the following months, Rohit approached local shops to sell his product at a proposed retail price of Rs 90. “This LED bulb was much cheaper than its branded competitors in the market. Moreover, I used high-quality components to increase longevity, and attain better brightness in the product. So, I offered a two-year warranty. This unique aspect, combined with the low cost, made it acceptable in the market,” he says.
He adds that gradually, the demand increased, and sales picked up. “I became confident about earning well and asked seven people in the neighbourhood to help me manufacture more bulbs. Three of them had returned from Bengaluru during the lockdown after having lost their jobs and needed to support their families. I decided to train and pay them Rs 12,000 a month. It takes ten minutes for a trained person to make one LED bulb, and 100 bulbs can be produced in a day,” he says. The young entrepreneur also had a manager with 15 years of experience to assist him.
The venture is registered under the name R B Illuminations, and the bulb is sold under the brand R B LED. “I’m looking for more partners and dealers to expand, as the demand for these bulbs has increased in other districts as well. People prefer locally-made bulbs over expensive brands,” Rohit says.
Pulak says he’s proud of his son and happy that the venture took off. “The effort my son has taken has been appreciated by the government at the Ministry level. It’s growing to become a trusted brand,” he says.