Sunil Bharti Mittal, Indian Telecom Industry Pioneer’s Success Story

Bharti Mittal is synonymous to an iconic brand in every Indian’s mind. Having said that, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s story as a billionaire entrepreneur is a unique one given he is a first-generation entrepreneur when compared the other iconic brands who have created the branding of such status.

Who is Sunil Bharati Mittal and how did he create an empire? Well, we will break down each aspect of his life and answer each question you might find relevant while reading about Mittal personal and professional life:

Who is Sunil Bharati Mittal?

Born in a Punjabi family to Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Sat Paul Mittal, a first-generation entrepreneur who started his first startup at 18 selling the crankshafts for local bicycle manufacturers based in Punjab and later became the founder and Chairman of Bharati Enterprises, an empire which has roots in telecom, insurance, real estate, education, malls, hospitality, Agri and food besides other ventures.

How Old is Sunil Bharati Mittal?

Sunil Bharati Mittal is 62 years old and was born on 23rd October 1957.

What did Sunil Bharati Mittal study?

The billionaire studied at the Wynberg Allen School in Mussoorie. He later went to Scindia School at Gwalior. Coming back to his hometown and studied in Arya College, Ludhiana. He graduated in 1976 from Punjab University, Chandigarh, with a Bachelor of Arts and Science.

What is the net worth of Bharti Mittal?

As of October 2020, Sunil Bharati Mittal has a net worth of US$8.9 billion. The businessman’s most famous venture has to be Bharti Airtel, the telecom company which accounts as one of the world’s largest and India’s second-largest telecom company with operations in 18 countries across Asia and Africa.

How did Sunil Bharati Mittal become successful?

Sunil Bharati’s story exhibits the nature of a classic entrepreneur. From starting at 18 to being Padma Bhushan awarded Businessman and acquiring several milestones, here’s the timeline of Sunil Bharati Mittal’s success:

1976: Borrowed Rs. 20,000 from his father to make crankshaft for local bicycle manufacturers.

1980: Started Bharati Import Enterprise, Bharati Overseas Trading Company with his brothers and sold his bicycle parts and yarn factories to move to Mumbai.

1981: Purchased importing licences from exporting companies in Punjab and imported thousands of Suzuki Motors’s portable electric-power generators from Japan while the importing of generators was suddenly banned by the then Indian Government.


1984: He was out of business post the ban and in Taiwan discovered the opportunity of bringing push-button phones in India. He started assembling push-button phones in India. Established Bharati Telecom Limited, his first step towards becoming the telecom magnate of India.

Early 1990’s: He manufactured fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear along with marketing telephones under his brand Beetal which kickstarted and he launched his first push-button phone as ‘Mitbrau’.

1992: He successfully bid for one of the four mobile network licences auctioned in India, given there was a condition of bidder having some experience as telecom operator, he signed a deal with French telecom group Vivendi.

1994: He became the first to identify the potential of the telecom industry as his plans were finally approved by GOI.

1995: He launched his services in Delhi.

1997: Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was formed to offer cellular services under the brand name AirTel.

Airtel went to becoming the first telecom brand in India that reached the 2 million mobile subscribers milestone. Bharati’s ‘Indiaone’ brand became possible for bringing down the STD and ISD cellular rates in India.


2007: Awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honor.

2008-2009: Mittal confirmed that he was in talks with MTN Group, a South Africa based telecommunications company with coverage in 21 countries of Africa and the Middle East. However, by 2009, it was reported that talks ended without agreement.

2010: Bharti made the largest ever aquation by an Indian telecom industry by acquiring the African business Zain Telecom. Mittal’s son joined as Bharti Airtel’s manager after working at Merril Lynch in New York and Ernst and Young in London.

2012: Bharati and Wal-Mart, the US retail giant started several retail stores together in India. Mittal also took Bharti Infratel public with an initial IPO that raised $760 million.


2013: Mittal joined the board of Oneweb, a space internet company and became an investor in a $500 million investment round that included Coca-Cola, Virgin and Qualcomm.

2016: Mittal, now, had another challenge of sustaining in the industry with players like Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and hence he made changes. Sunil was elected as Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce at 15 June 2016.

2017: Mittal scrapped outgoing and incoming call charges within India as well as internal roaming charges.

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