Smartlink Holdings Ltd. was in the Networking Products line business for more than three decades and involved in sourcing, manufacturing, sales, marketing and support, etc. The company undertook a restructuring exercise in the Financial year 2016-17 and now has three independent subsidiaries, namely, Digisol Systems Ltd., Synegra EMS Ltd. and Telesmart SCS Ltd. to grow the businesses in a focused manner using its expertise of over three decades. The company is now an NBFC with assets and cash investments which includes investment in the three subsidiary companies.
Subsidiaries of the company
Digisol has established its brand positioning as a leading ‘Trusted made in India IT networking brand’ that offers products of global standards, credibility and delivers a fantastic user experience. The company has carried out various initiatives like Digisol Cash Karo loyalty program to enhance the relationship with existing electricians, technicians and partners by giving them a chance to earn more loyalty points on their purchase of Digisol products, DITT (Digisol Institute of Technical Training) where it aims to train/educate network engineers, channel partners and ISPs by consistently delivering quality training programs which are always in sync with the market demand and Digisol Premium Partners Program to build relationships with the partners by rolling out various Sales Scheme for both Active and Passive range of products.
Synegra is a wholly owned manufacturing subsidiary of Smartlink Holdings Limited. Synegra EMS Ltd is Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) Company which caters to IT, Networking, Telecom, Aerospace, Bio Medical, IOT, Electronics, Electrical Vehicle (EV), Medical, Automotive and Defense sectors, etc. Synegra has large, certified manufacturing facilities in Goa which includes 2 SMT lines (recently upgraded 1 new SMT line), Assembly lines, Testing lines, and is capable of manufacturing all kinds of IT/Telecommunication / Electronic Products like Computer Motherboards, Add on Cards, Networking and Telecommunication Products, Medical devices, etc. with a highly skilled team for electronics manufacturing including components sourcing for over three decades. It also provides contract manufacturing services to DIGISOL SYSTEMS LTD. as well as other electronic brands and companies. The company has widened its activities by venturing into the manufacture of PCBs for Electric Vehicles. It anticipates steady growth with its manufacturing capacity suited for both export as well as domestic markets under the Make in India initiative of the Government of India.
Telesmart is a subsidiary of Smartlink Holdings Ltd. with a Taiwan partner having several patents in SCS products in copper connecting parts with high bandwidth applications. The company has expertise in manufacturing various types of structured cabling products in both copper and fiber range as an ODM supplier to various brand companies. As of now, it supplies the DIGISOL brand to Digisol Systems. Telesmart has state-of-the-art production lines, assembly and testing equipment for copper and fiber products manufacturing designed as per lean concept. It has also set up a Clean Room for Fiber Patch cord manufacturing, where Fiber Cords are manufactured under controlled temperature and clean environment. Fiber products are manufactured and supplied to brand companies like Digisol Systems Ltd. The company is also looking for contract manufacturing for its fiber products. Telesmart’s SCS products portfolio includes end-to-end cabling solutions in copper from Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat6A, STP, FTP, Patch Panels, Patch Cords, and Face Plates. The fiber range includes all kinds of Fiber Patch Cords, Pigtails with performance certificates, and LIUs.
Business area of the company
The company is now an NBFC with assets and cash investments which includes investment in the three subsidiary companies. The income of Smartlink Holdings is mainly from investments and rent income from immovable properties.
History and milestones
1986: This was the year that saw Personal Computers (PCs) appearing in the market. Introduced by IBM, they were popularly known as IBM PCs. Naik, who used to work as a manufacture engineer in the product development department at IBM plant, quickly grasped the potential of this turning point in the IT industry and established a company called Virtual Computers Pvt. Ltd. He set up an assembly unit in Mumbai by importing a Hollis Soldering Machine from the United States of America, and thus successfully started manufacturing PCs in Mumbai. Business started flourishing and he started importing parts in Complete Knock Down (CKD) parts in the form of motherboards, add-on cards, etc. from Singapore and Hong Kong. They were then assembled and marketed under the Virtual Computer brand name.
1990: Network cards appeared on the scene, primarily from Taiwan. Naik realized the future lay in connected computers, and soon entered the networking products space as a distributor of D-Link brand products along with PCs under the Virtual Computer brand.
1993: The biggest hurdle at this time was a high custom duty on importing finished goods. It was financially more viable to import discreet parts in CKD with lower custom duty, and assemble and manufacture them in India. In order to resolve this problem, Naik convinced Ken Kao, then Chairman of D-Link Corporation Taiwan for a joint venture to manufacture networking products in India. He then realized that newer product designs required Surface Mount Technology (SMT) line and hence decided to acquire land in Goa to build a new factory. And thus, a new company, SMARTLINK NETWORK LTD was established.
1995: After building the new Factory in Goa, he imported SMT line, and set up assembly and testing lines after which he invited the D-Link people for inauguration, and they liked the place and signed the joint venture in Jan 1995. The company name was subsequently changed to D-Link India and he continued sales and marketing operations in Mumbai. The business flourished so rapidly that Naik further decided to enter Passive (SCS) range of products in distribution with Computer Craft USA, along with DLink Active Products line. He also convinced Cisco to offer distribution, and D-Link India became first distributor of Cisco products in Mumbai.
1997: Computer Craft introduced their Passive (SCS) products supplier, a manufacturer called Sapphire UK to Naik. He met the owner, David Burlingson and convinced him to start manufacturing Passive products in Goa as a joint venture under Sapphire India Pvt. Ltd. The business developed at a faster pace, and a second factory in Goa was constructed to keep up with the burgeoning business needs in 1999. D-link was never into Passive range of products and started the same in India and Middle East only because of Naik’s vision.
2000: Business and profitability were both growing rapidly, and it was decided to offer an IPO to fuel further expansion. D-Link India became listed in India in 2001 and also established its third manufacturing base which had capacity to grow to 8 SMT lines and assembly lines with all kind of products. It was now time to enter the motherboards manufacturing space with a joint venture with Gigabyte Taiwan as separate company using same facility.
2000: Naik convinced D-Link Corp Chairman and R&D in-charge to utilize Indian talent by starting an R&D unit in India. It was an excellent opportunity for India to work with leading chip vendors in development of IP phones, video phones, etc. Unfortunately, within 4 years of R&D Services offered to D-Link Taiwan, the company split operation by shifting manufacturing and R&D as separate unit Alpha Network Systems. As a result of this, they, they stopped using its facilities. The company then developed many products such as routers, video phones, IPPBX etc. but due to no support for global marketing and local requirements being very low, it was decided to shut down the R&D operations in 2007.
2004: As the Passive (SCS) products business was booming, the D-Link HQ Chairman expressed discomfort in continuing passive range of products along with his active products range under the same brand name ‘DLink’ and asked Naik to have his own company or his own brand for passive. This is how Naik registered ‘DIGILINK’ brand for Passive (SCS) business under his own name. The DIGILINK business continued to flourish.
2008: As the business contribution of active and Passive (SCS) products had become 50:50, in 2008 D-Link Chairman and Naik decided to have two independent Focus Business units in Active and Passive respectively with both companies holding majority stakes by swapping shares and getting listed again. D-Link India de-merged by changing its name back to Smartlink and continued manufacturing and marketing of DIGILINK brand of passive (SCS) products .On the same day, New D-Link India Ltd. was established by transferring D-Link brand product stock & receivables. Both companies got listed after swapping shares to hold majorities individually. Smartlink Continued with Manufacturing D-link brand Active Products & DIGILINK Passive range Products and sales & marketing only of DIGILINK Passive (SCS) Products. New D-Link India company started trading D-Link brand Active Products by importing from China/Taiwan.
2009: As Smartlink had factory for active and passive products manufacturing, it was supposed to continue manufacture and supply of Active products for D-Link brand and Naik was supposed to hand hold the New D-Link India Company for next 3 years as per the understanding between the two companies. However, the D-Link HQ management changed in Taiwan, and unfortunately they stopped buying from Smartlink within 3 Months. They also further opened market disturbing the Exclusive Distribution System established for 15+ years. Then in 2010, Smartlink having ready manufacturing base introduced own new Brand DIGISOL for Active Products range to support well established channel along with DIGILINK Passive products.
2010: As New D-Link India company stopped buying Active range of Products from Smartlink, Smartlink having large capacity in Manufacturing entered in Motherboards Manufacturing by establishing new Brand DIGILITE and started marketing DIGILITE brand Motherboards along with DIGILINK Passive (SCS) and DIGISOL Active Products.
2011: Schneider Electric, a French company wanted to acquire DIGILINK brand business along with its manufacturing base as DIGILINK was the number one player in India in the SCS range of products. DIGILINK was finding it difficult to enter the overseas market and having already reached numero uno position in India, it was decided to capitalise on this opportunity. Smartlink parted off DIGILINK brand passive business for 100 million USD in April 2011. Smartlink continued with DIGISOL brand of active products range, and effectively utilizing the factory in manufacturing their own products under DIGILITE.
2014: Smartlink continued to prosper with DIGISOL and DIGILITE brands. DIGILITE Motherboards Manufacturing was done in large scale having large capacity. Year on year the demand of Motherboards decreased leading to decrease in margins. This was due to loosing duty difference benefits with regards to import of finished products and discrete parts. Smartlink discontinued DIGILITE business by 2014 and continued with Active Products in DIGISOL Brand.
2016: DIGISOL brand of Active products flourished with additions of enterprise wireless, enterprise switching, CCTV and IP surveillance. The last quarter of 2016 decided to re-enter in Passive range of products under DIGISOL Brand.
2017: Having large capacity manufacturing base and Government support through Make in India promotion, Smartlink decided to focus on active & passive as 2 Individual businesses to grow as OEM supplier not only to DIGISOL but also to Brand Companies outside India through export.
2019: Digisol Launches DG-GS1528HP/C Switch with 6KV Surge Protection, specially designed for Smart cities & surveillance applications. It has also unveiled ‘ConvergeX’, a New Series of Structured Cabling Solution in Chennai.
2020: Digisol Unveils DG-GR6821AC XPON Router for Smart Home Networking. Digisol also launched high performance 8 port managed switch - DG-GS4110.