The year: 2016. The day: September 7. Apple, the iconic tech enterprise, took a bold jump on that day as iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the most advanced variations at the time, were brought minus the three.Five mm headphone jack. Dropping it so unceremoniously would possibly have shocked the world then, but customers have been provided wi-fi earphones for an convenient listening revel in. It became an innovation that killed the many years-vintage hardware as it become swiftly losing its relevance.
The tech global was in turmoil, even though. What observed become a series of boardroom discussions throughout the mobile phone industry, and soon after, every tech massive — from Google to Samsung to Xiaomi — observed in shape. On a macro level, clients international had been left with blended emotions — saddened at losing a dependable and cheap piece of tech however additionally excited because the destiny of earphones spread out. Better still, two hobbyist musicians living in Mumbai saw an opportunity as the brand new-age smartphones called for state-of-the-art add-ons.
Kushal Kaushik and Akshay De, musicians-turned-technologists, started to look for the right wireless earphones however quickly realised the limitations of the devices to be had on the time. Fuelled by means of their ardour for song and sensing an possibility to drive income via the booming ecommerce market, the duo decided to installation LoopAudio, a hardware startup growing a number Bluetooth earphones.
“We were upset to find that no wi-fi earphones may want to supply extra than three to five hours of playtime or provide notable music at a reasonable fee. And we wanted to change that,” says Kaushik, cofounder of LoopAudio.
Although the headphones and earphones segment in India clocked a revenue of $805 Mn in FY2020-21, the market became in a kingdom of a lull for the better part of the 21st century as the era behind them did now not evolve at a quick clip. But during the last few years, considering that smartphones have started ditching the auxiliary port, the use of Bluetooth technology has pushed hardware companies to undertake a greater state-of-the-art technique for a higher audio revel in.
Indian gamers inclusive of boAt, Boult Audio and MiVi have been launched all through this disruptive length and advanced a slew of excessive-tech, elegant however inexpensive earphones to cater to Indian customers. The surge in the marketplace additionally driven older gamers like iBall and Intex in the direction of wi-fi technology.
LoopAudio’s Tech-Differentiated Journey
Kaushik and De installation LoopAudio in 2018, intending to build pinnacle-notch but pocket-friendly earphones. The startup currently manufactures 4 sorts of Bluetooth earphones for distinctive pastime wishes with an average price ticket size of INR 2,one hundred fifty.
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LoopAudio co-develops its products by working with factories, that have the required infrastructure and revel in of creating comparable audio devices.
Like maximum electronics brands in India, its manufacturing includes especially the assembly of components. The startup procures the elements for the earphones each locally and the world over and assembles them in rented-out factory units. The startup leases out factories that already work in assembling earphones and other electronics to keep on price for equipment. However, Kaushik states that within the destiny as the dimensions of manufacturing is going up, the plan is to shop for their personal factories to streamline the manufacturing operations.
But in spite of high enter prices, costs are saved low as the startup has followed the direct-to-purchaser (D2C) model, cutting off all middlemen from the deliver chain. It also minimises the layout aspect to reduce prices and focusses handiest on the audio nice.
“We spend money on generation, product features and best rather than visible design. We attempt to bring aesthetic layout certainly into our workflow but do no longer want to spend some thing more on that. In today’s purchaser electronics marketplace, designs get old each three months. So, it is better to consciousness at the capability as opposed to fretting about controlling the contours,” says Kaushik.
LoopAudio is part of the purchaser electronics ecosystem that has been riding the D2C wave. To maintain their production expenses below control with out compromising on first-rate, Indian startups on this area rely on numerous factors, along with maintaining the middlemen out of the entire supply chain, no longer choosing above-the-line or ATL advertising (normally ‘untargeted’ promoting for a large attain, similar to TV campaigns) among others.
LoopAudio averages three hundred orders a month and has sold more than 10K devices in view that its inception. It additionally generated total revenue of INR 1.55 Cr until 2021.
One of the crucial demanding situations for LoopAudio became understanding the nitty-gritty of the fundraising technique and techniques, the governance and the regulatory mandates and different felony elements surrounding them. Initially, the organisation had decided to build a few buzz and traction to draw investors’ attention. But being an early-level startup, it lacked the understanding of while or the way to move for funding, and its efforts fell through. And because it befell with many companies, the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic spoilt its fundraising plans.
At the same time, the D2C startup got shortlisted for Shiprocket’s Rocketfuel accelerator programme in 2020 which helped it solidify its advertising, product placement, packaging, building emblem narratives, funding pitch and fairness management.
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Addressing all could-be marketers keen to enter the D2C space, Kaushik says, “It is greater tough than you could assume. So, get equipped for matters no longer to work out as you need and while you want. Stay focussed on long-time period desires however never lose sight of the small, practicable obligations/milestones.”
With an growing base of a hundred thirty Mn online customers and a decreasing hesitancy for ecommerce that has been improved by Covid-19, the stage is all set for the D2C phase. According to cft’s record titled Decoding India’s $100 Bn+ D2C possibility, the current consumer electronics market is at $18.5 Bn and is expected to reach $30.6 Bn by means of 2025.
With the upward push of India’s D2C wave, a stronger enabler surroundings is so that it will ensure that the segment reaches its complete capacity. While pure-play D2C operations for smaller brands might also as properly be a pipeline dream, greater self-realised D2C brands will gain no longer best the environment and its allies however the Indian financial system at large.
This article is part of our coverage of The D2C Summit through cft Plus and Trell scheduled for 3 & four Dec, 2021. Watch all of the sessions at D2C Academy now.