In a board meeting, when Airtel was launching Mobile Telephony in 1995-96, Master Kaul made a business prophecy to Mr. Sunil Mittal, Mr. Rajan Mittal, Mr. Rakesh Mittal and other board members including Mr. Sharad Mishra and Mr. Hemant Sachdev.
He announced “ THE TELECOM AND MOBILE TELEPHONY IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT ECONOMIC BOOM”. He also said that Mr. Mittal will do more than 1 million subscribers in the next 4 years, i.e. by 2000. Everyone clapped enthusiastically.
After the meeting Mr. Sunil Mittal personally came and congratulated him and admired his confidence and positive belief. He also advised him to be cautious however. He explained that his competitor, Essar telecom, a massive success with a lot of financial backing at that point, might just ruin him in a price war.
Since, Master Kaul was a psychic, he could foresee the potential effect of Telecom Revolution on Indian Economy. Therefore, he jointly funded the marketing and promotional activities of Airtel and declared incoming calls FREE and gave away premium goodies like diamond pendants, Ray Ban shades, Kodak cameras, and mobile phones for free and also at subsidized rates.
As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir in the market and Airtel, which up until that point, was a small company and suddenly had a magnificent edge over its competitors. Master Kaul was declared a marketing genius and prodigy overnight. His company, Hitech Cellular was on everyone’s radar now.
And everyone, from PM, CM to the Tata’s and Birla’s had their ears up and were left wondering who is this man and what is his game?
This revolution elevated India to an economic giant and invited multinationals to come in the country, creating millions of jobs. The license given by former PM Narasimha Rao government for telecom was 50,000 subscribers in 10 years. However, he predicted the future of Telecom and knew well in advance that even rickshaw pullers would be using mobile phones.
Airtel was a $200,000 company in 1995 and eventually became a group of USD 35 billion (market cap).