Matrix Cellular: Tapping into Innovation to Disrupt a Regulated and Saturated Indian Telecom Market

Case Solution

Saumya Sindhwani, Lakshmi Appasamy
Singapore Management University ()

The case takes place in July 2015 and follows Matrix Cellular (International) Services (Matrix), a telecommunications company that entered the emerging mobile communications market in India as a retailer of international cell phones, accessories and SIM cards. The company’s CEO and chairman of the company’s Risk Management Committee, Gagan Dugal, identified the potential demand for international SIM cards in India’s outbound travel market, which is booming with globalization. MCIS purchased international minutes in bulk from cellular service providers (MSPs) in destination countries and sold them to departing Indian travelers via SIM cards. The service was an instant hit with elite travelers. Matrix used its pioneering advantage, strategically expanded its capabilities in the areas of procurement, marketing, sales and service, and expanded its product portfolio. Matrix rapidly evolved from a hardware and accessories retailer to a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) selling talk time and data at retail and retail outlets. Starting in 2010, the Matrix faced intense competition from new entrants and mainstream MSPs. Additionally, events that affected the outbound travel industry also affected Matrix. Matrix realized its dual identity as a telecommunications and travel company and introduced additional services for exchange cards, travel insurance and VAT refunds. While the services did not contribute significantly to the company’s revenue, they did contribute to the attractiveness of the company’s competitive advantage. Amid increased competition and falling revenue, Dugal and his team had to leverage their core resources to innovate the market again, but how?

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