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Mohit Goel’s Cheapest Smartphone Proved Too Expensive for Him

Who is Mohit Goel and how the Freedom 251 smartphone turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

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Mohit Goel. Does that name ‘ring a bell?’

The maker of the cheapest smartphone in the world and the founder of mobile-making firm Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel, has been a controversial figure ever since he introduced himself as the founder of a company ready to give the people of India a smartphone that costs less than a taxi ride from Delhi to Gurgaon.

Now, Goel is back in the headlines (again for the wrong reasons) as he has been arrested by the Delhi Police on accounts of extortion to settle a gang-rape case.

Goel’s life has been plagued with controversies, but it wasn’t always like this for him. So, where did it all go wrong?

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Where it All Started

In his childhood, Mohit Goel spent most of his time sitting at his father, Rajesh Goel’s grocery shop, attending to customers.

Since Goel didn’t see a lucrative future in the grocery store business, he went ahead to complete his bachelors from the Western Sydney University in New South Wales (as per official records) and then further went on to do his MBA from Amity University in Noida.

During a recent investigation, Goel revealed to a senior police official that he has only studied till Class VIII and took English-speaking classes thereafter.

After getting a small loan from his father, Goel set up his company in Noida by the name Ringing Bells Private Limited in 2015, where he conceptualised the concept of the Freedom 251 smartphone.

The Promise

It was in October 2016 that Mohit Goel launched the world’s cheapest smartphone the Freedom 251 with a promise that he would make the phone available to Indians across the country.

The phone was launched at an effective price of Rs 251 for the consumers and was claimed to be made available to almost 2 lakh people in India, of which around 65,000 units were actually sold.

With this offer, Goel had dug his own grave. The news garnered attention of not only customers but also the tech fraternity who dubbed the idea as “ridiculous and impossible to deliver”.

Goel had also made a pitch to the Indian Prime Minister in aiding Ringing Bell’s project and contribute towards the ‘Make in India’ initiative. That didn’t bode well for him either.

Few months after that, tax officials came knocking at Mohit Goel’s door and Ringing Bells had to shut shop.

Eventually as a series of events unfolded, revolving around the smartphone, Goel was roped into multiple cases of fraud. Last year, Mohit Goel was detained after the owner of Ghaziabad-based Ayam Enterprises filed an FIR alleging that Ringing Bells "defrauded" it of Rs 16 lakh.

Three months later, he was out on bail.

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When Things Can’t Get Any Worse

And now, Goel seems to have hit rock bottom. He along with two other people have been arrested by the police in Delhi on Sunday, 10 June, for allegedly trying to extort money from a businessman to "settle a gang-rape case.”

Goel, his aide and a woman allegedly conspired to extort money from the complainant after implicating them in a gang-rape case in Rajasthan's Alwar.

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This has indeed been a very topsy-turvy ride for the man who aspired to sell cheap smartphones in India. His business model wasn’t the most efficient and perhaps his choice of product was too good to be true.

Goel’s story is a good example of how not to sell a phone in the Indian market.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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