For his next blockbuster, Salman Khan is betting on a smaller screen — the smartphone.
The star of such mega hits as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Karan Arjun and Dabangg, Salman Khan is dialling a raft of investors for his smartphone venture, in which he may take a majority shareholding directly or through his family. He’s currently building an operational management team to be headed by a professional with leadership stints at Samsung and Micromax, two top industry executives told ET. The Bollywood superstar, who owns the Being Human clothing brand, has registered the BeingSmart trademark for smartphones targeted at the entryto-middle market segment. He has also selected the Chinese plant and initial phone models that will run on Android and cost below Rs 20,000. “BeingSmart will be positioned against the Chinese smartphone brigade — Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi — at a time domestic handset makers such as Micromax and Intex are facing tremendous competition,” said one of those cited above. “And, like the Being Human apparel line, proceeds from the profit will be ploughed back into charity and social work that Salman Khan does with his Being Human Foundation.” Salman Khan joins his peer Shah Rukh Khan in branching into businesses other than film production, harnessing their popularity to establish revenue streams in industries as diverse as entertainment, competitive sport, endorsements and branded clothing. The Being Human brand is licensed to Mandhana Retail Ventures, which operates dozens of outlets in various cities selling fashion accessories and apparel. The BeingSmart smartphones will initially be sold online and later through strategic partnerships with a few large cellphone and electronic retail chains. They may also be sold in Being Human stores. A small group of executives, along with members of the Khan family, are working out the details, the executives said. There was no response to an email sent to Khan through his celebrity management company Matrix. Salman Khan’s Being Human “foundation is a registered charitable trust established in 2007 and working in the areas of education and healthcare for the underprivileged,” it says on its website. Executives said Salman Khan had floated the idea of entering the smartphone business two years ago. A few Indian brands had then shown interest, but eventually backed out due to the high royalty charges he demanded. “But this time, Salman is himself driving the show and searching for an investor. He expects to launch the devices in the next two quarters and definitely before the festive season,” another executive said. Both Salman Khan and his sister Alvira are closely engaged with the Being Human business and its product offerings. Mandhana Retail pays 5% royalty on sales to the Being Human Foundation. In 2014, Mandhana Industries demerged its retail and trading businesses and hived off the business of Being Human brand to Mandhana Retail Ventures.
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