If you take a walk down Lamington Road, the computer hardware district near Grant Road station, you can’t miss Prime ABGB at SimLim Square opposite the police station. Displaying the brand in all it’s glory is a massive hoarding stretching all the way across the glass building’s width. But Prime’s spanking new 1,400 square feet office has a humble origin, just like its owner Gulbir Bhatia.
“I nearly had tears in my eyes when I saw the movie Rocket Singh,” says Bhatia. “The film’s story is so similar to my own life that it’s hard to believe. Like me, Ranbir Kapoor’s character, who works for a computer assembly company, is a Sikh and a B.Com graduate. He starts from scratch and rides around on a scooter. I did the same too. In fact, in the movie, they shot a video of a shop next to mine and Rocket Singh’s first supplier (Lalwani Computers) was my first supplier too,” says Bhatia.
After completing his standard 10th in 1989, Bhatia worked with a computer assembly company while doing his HSC from HR College, Churchgate. He dusted machines for six months and then carried senior engineers’ bags for another six months, while answering troubleshooting calls on the field. “I got a lot of flack from the first person I sold a computer to in 1991. It kept crashing all the time. I had basically bought the computer from a system integrator and sold it to the end-customer. After this sour experience, I made up my mind to start my own business and sell good quality material. I was 19 and we lived in a cramped 1 BHK apartment at Malabar Hill. I knew this was the way forward if I wanted to have my own house,” Bhatia adds.
Over the years, Bhatia moved from an 80-square-foot office to a 150 sq foot one, to renting a 1,100 square-foot office in Tara Temple Lane before moving to SimLim Square today. Starting from a measly R 13,000 transaction in 1994, Prime ABGB now rakes in an annual revenue to the tune of R 30 crores.
Marriage and success
“Getting married at 25 in 1998 turned out to be the best decision of my life,” says Bhatia whose wife Lawaljit is now the CEO of the company. “By nature, I tend to fly a lot and my wife grounds me to reality. “If you read Bhatia’s business card, his designation reads: ‘Human being’.
Prime ABGB sells whole computers and equipment to retail customers, offers annual maintenance contracts and services and distributes enthusiast hardware like high-performance power supplies, computer memory and gaming-grade computer cabinets. The company also has a web portal and its own brand of high-end gaming computers called Brag that locks horns with Dell’s Alienware. “Originally we’d jokingly refer to ABGB as ‘Amir baap, garib beta’ (rich dad, poor son), but today it stands for Always Believe in Getting Better,” Bhatia signs off.