Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2010

Go Mobile: The Phirbol Franchise

by Rajiv Lal and Natalie Kindred

Abstract

To grow Phirbol, a telecom retail franchise chain in Delhi, India's underdeveloped markets, its founders were exploring ways to offer more value to the franchisees. In mid-2009, the Phirbol franchise was comprised of some 150 franchisees that had converted their small "mom-and-pop” shops into Phirbol-branded stores. Entrepreneurs Meghna Modi and Glenn Wong had launched the franchise in 2007, two years after they founded Go Mobile, a company-owned mobile retail chain. While Go Mobile stores were located in higher-income neighborhoods and focused primarily on selling phone handsets, Phirbol stores could be found in less-developed areas—most were not accessible by car—and focused on selling service connections (SIM cards) and recharges. Phirbol added value to the franchisees by streamlining some of their business processes, offering them a consistent product supply, sales support and incentives, and providing them with education on the constantly changing dynamics of India's mobile market. But as the founders looked towards expanding, they knew they would have to enhance their offering to franchisees in order to recruit some of the more established "mom-and-pop” stores they planned to target as franchisees. In addition, they would need to adjust their business model such that more responsibility was delegated to franchisees and staff. Looking forward, what should Modi and Wong do to ensure Phirbol's success?

Keywords: Business Model; Business Startups; Innovation and Management; Brands and Branding; Service Operations; Franchise Ownership; Value Creation; Telecommunications Industry; Delhi;

Citation:

Lal, Rajiv, and Natalie Kindred. "Go Mobile: The Phirbol Franchise." Harvard Business School Case 510-020, February 2010.