Alpesh Patel is the founder of Mi-Group. He has sold over 1.5 million of the Mi-Fone, Africa’s first branded smartphones. With such great achievements starting at a young age, it is no surprise that Alpesh has been featured in several magazines and media outlets.
His motto “Every day is my worst day. The easiest day was yesterday. Problems come all the time but I looked at them as opportunities to fix.” is just one of the many things he shared with CNBC Africa. Here are a few more tidbits from the article:
Patel claims entrepreneurship is in his blood. At school he would sell leather handbags, brought back from Morocco on holidays, to Nigerian vendors in London. After graduation, Africa drew him back; this time selling first generation mobile phones. Patel describes them as the giant bricks of the 1990s. His big break came with an order for 183 cell phones from a businessman in China. The only provision for the deal was that he had to be there to hand over the box. He saw a gap in the market and flew to Asia to sell more. By the age of 23, Patel made his first million, being one of the first people to sell mobile devices in that continent.
His worst day was on the horizon. A combination of a lavish lifestyle in Hong Kong and competition as big mobile brands woke up meant Patel’s days were numbered. Mobile giant Nokia came to China in 1993. The stiff competition sucked Patel’s market dry, he says.
Patel’s biggest lesson he learned was that he needed to sell like a corporate.
“I went back to the basics. I was selling products with nothing but a suitcase and a bunch of brochures… In three years I sold five million units in Africa with Motorola. It was tough… I think it’s what I needed. I never had that corporate experience. To be where we are today, you need to have some experience. Unless you are a fantastically talented singer, you need to get some training somewhere to know how the system works,” he says.
Armed with the knowledge of the African market, Patel launched his own company in 2008, the Mi-Fone brand of mobile devices; a new name in a fast-growing emerging market. They sold 200,000 units in the first year. In 2013, they have sold over a million.
Here is a peek into Alpesh’s interview with Venture Africa:
For Juice Magazine:
And Destiny Man Magazine:
Alpesh Patel is really a class of his own. Alpesh is a trailblazer both in business and in tech. This African Indian Entrepreneur made a name for himself selling large volumes of Mobile devices to the Chinese back in the 90s.
Mi-Fone, the first African mobile devices brand was founded by Alpesh Patel in 2008, after he left the post of Director for Sales in Africa at Motorola. While at Motorola, Alpesh placed more than 5m devices into the continent generating revenues upwards of $500m. In his 20 years of experience in the mobile business, Alpesh became known as one of the most hardworking people in African Telco. He was dubbed “An Innovator, a Disruptor and a true African Visionary” and the one with the “Indian Blood….African Heart”.
In 2012, Alpesh restructured the company and formed Mi-Group International Ltd as the Parent holding company which now co owns Mi- Fone the Device and Mobile Services business and OJU Africa Ltd ( The Worlds First Afro Emoticon Character Brand). In 2015 Mi Fone received its first inward investment after 7 years of bootstrapping and is now backed by one of South Africa’s largest conglomerates. By 2020 Mi Fone aims to place at least 50m Smartphone devices into the hands of mass market African consumers and in turn ensuring greater productivity and greater prosperity for a Continent that has been considered the “fastest growth market on the planet ”.
Alpesh Patel has received several awards such as:
- Frost and Sullivan “Entrepreneur Company of the Year “ 2014
- SA Loeries Grand Prix Digital Award for OJU Africa. 2014
- African Leadership Network 2015. Finalist Growth Business Award
- GQ – 2014, Best Dressed Man
And enjoys sharing his insights and learnings through keynotes like:
- Entrepreneurship – the Dark Side. What that don’t tell you
- Africa – How to tackle this challenging market
- Start ups- How to build a business with no external funding