Element14 recently inaugurated their biggest office in Bengaluru, India, a behemoth over 33,000 sqft big, with support for Indian as well as global services. EFY caught up with element14 executives, Graham McBeth, Ralf Buehler, and Uma Pingali as they took us on a guided tour along a panoramic view of the new space.
Q. Can you please tell us a bit about element14 and your Avnet acquisition last year?
A. Graham: element14 is a large company, we are owned by Avnet since last one year. We have spread in Europe, North America, Asia pacific, this is our element14 component business. We have another company which sell more electrical wholesale products, they have a business around 210 million. The main element14 component business represent in India or in Asia contains with in the 117 million of APAC. We have 2 million customers, and we have a large customer care. We get about 30 thousand new customers in to the business every month. Lot of customers coming and finding us and buying new things, which is exciting for us. We have 8 warehouses, we still believe in having warehousing course to the customer, we have a 3 PL warehouse in Bangalore or in India. We have invested quite a lot in the last 6 months in inventory. We have an amazing element14 community, we have about 500 thousand people now in our community. Electronic engineers speak to each other about product solutions, we run lots of road tests, events, webinars etc. Another complement is Avnet recently bought a company called Hackster, which is world’s second biggest community, they have 300 thousand members. So Avnet now the largest communities in the world, and we collaborating together with element14. We have taken advantage of each other’s skills, and comparing with shared experiences.
Q. What are the main focus areas for element14 moving forwards?
A. Ralf: Especially in the electronic industry, industry is changing quite a bit from traditional OEM’s types with product scape develop, more in to a network environmental development. There are lot of IOT innovations happening in non-traditional companies. So we really focused on 4 segments across the whole value chain, we are really focusing on education, because we try to help people to get in to engineering and also help them, create business out of the education. We support research and design, idea creation and realizing these ideas. Typically lots of technology information is required, lots of fast delivery of small quantities initially to get things started early. We are trying to help the idea getting into production. We offer not just wide range of components, but all types of tests and measurement equipment, anything that would speed up your development cycle time. Single board computer for that matter is a platform, wherein you don’t have to develop from the ground up for yourself. End of all of that, we trying to make your production seamless by giving you the components, helping you to maintain your machines or in the worst case, when products get obsolete, help you to re-engineer your products again.
Q. Please talk to us about the boards business, are Customized boards making a comeback?
A. Graham: For us, boards are very attractive business with limited competition. We do a 100 million dollars of business in boards. So we are trying to differentiate customized boards more and more now. We are looking at kitting options for customers, providing better tools for coding large belt of material etc. We want to continue to focus on being a differentiated distributor in the market place.
Q. I think BBC has micro-bit, right? Micro bit was started off with very amazing idea, to get children in to programming, Now it’s coming to India. Talk to us about that.
A. Ralf: Yes it is very exclusive, we manufacture micro-bit, and it is coming to India now. When we talk about customization, the micro bit is not really the product we would customize, because it has got core functionality, which is trying to get children or students into programming. As a next step, you could say a Raspberry Pi coming from micro bit, there we can do customization. If you need even more power, again we have a BB board, there you can do customization. In IoT space, around the world, lot of software element of app building and cloud based services, people don’t necessary want to build hardware. The hardware platform is what they can utilize to create their products, that’s we are heavily focused on open source hardware, is really we considered the next big battle ground, because the more you can proliferate the board in to the market, the eco system will going to be better in terms of developing software by developers, more software code available easier to get in to the market. That way we are trying to help through manufacturing and selling it.