The year: 2016. The day: September 7. Apple, the iconic tech company, took a bold leap connected that time arsenic iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the astir precocious versions astatine the time, were introduced minus the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Dropping it truthful unceremoniously mightiness person shocked the satellite then, but users were offered wireless earphones for an effortless listening experience. It was an innovation that killed the decades-old hardware arsenic it was rapidly losing its relevance.
The tech satellite was successful turmoil, though. What followed was a bid of boardroom discussions crossed the mobile telephone industry, and soon after, each tech elephantine — from Google to Samsung to Xiaomi — followed suit. On a macro level, consumers worldwide were near with mixed emotions — saddened astatine losing a reliable and affordable portion of tech but besides excited arsenic the aboriginal of earphones unfolded. Better still, 2 hobbyist musicians surviving successful Mumbai saw an accidental arsenic the new-age smartphones called for state-of-the-art accessories.
Kushal Kaushik and Akshay De, musicians-turned-technologists, started to hunt for the cleanable wireless earphones but soon realised the limitations of the devices disposable astatine the time. Fuelled by their passionateness for euphony and sensing an accidental to thrust income via the booming ecommerce market, the duo decided to acceptable up LoopAudio, a hardware startup processing a scope of Bluetooth earphones.
“We were disappointed to find that nary wireless earphones could present much than 3 to 5 hours of playtime oregon supply high-quality euphony astatine a tenable price. And we wanted to alteration that,” says Kaushik, cofounder of LoopAudio.
Although the headphones and earphones conception successful India clocked a gross of $805 Mn successful FY2020-21, the marketplace was successful a authorities of a lull for the amended portion of the 21st period arsenic the exertion down them did not germinate astatine a accelerated clip. But implicit the past fewer years, since smartphones person started ditching the auxiliary port, the usage of Bluetooth exertion has pushed hardware companies to follow a much blase attack for a amended audio experience.
Indian players specified arsenic boAt, Boult Audio and MiVi were launched during this disruptive play and developed a slew of high-tech, stylish but affordable earphones to cater to Indian users. The surge successful the marketplace besides pushed older players similar iBall and Intex towards wireless technology.
LoopAudio’s Tech-Differentiated Journey
Kaushik and De acceptable up LoopAudio successful 2018, intending to physique top-notch but pocket-friendly earphones. The startup presently manufactures 4 types of Bluetooth earphones for antithetic enactment needs with an mean summons size of INR 2,150.
LoopAudio co-develops its products by moving with factories, which person the required infrastructure and acquisition of making akin audio devices.
But successful spite of precocious input costs, prices are kept debased arsenic the startup has adopted the direct-to-consumer (D2C) model, cutting disconnected each middlemen from the proviso chain. It besides minimises the plan facet to chopped costs and focusses lone connected the audio quality.
“We put successful technology, merchandise features and prime alternatively of ocular design. We effort to bring aesthetic plan people into our workflow but bash not privation to walk thing other connected that. In today’s user electronics market, designs get aged each 3 months. So, it is amended to absorption connected the functionality alternatively of fretting astir controlling the contours,” says Kaushik.
LoopAudio is portion of the user electronics ecosystem that has been riding the D2C wave. To support their manufacturing costs nether power without compromising connected quality, Indian startups successful this abstraction trust connected respective factors, including keeping the middlemen retired of the full proviso chain, not opting for above-the-line oregon ATL selling (mostly ‘untargeted’ promotion for a wide reach, akin to TV campaigns) among others.
LoopAudio averages 300 orders a period and has sold much than 10K units since its inception. It besides generated full gross of INR 1.55 Cr till 2021.
One of the captious challenges for LoopAudio was knowing the nitty-gritty of the fundraising process and strategies, the governance and the regulatory mandates and different ineligible aspects surrounding them. Initially, the institution had decided to physique immoderate buzz and traction to pull investors’ attention. But being an early-stage startup, it lacked the cognition of erstwhile oregon however to spell for funding, and its efforts fell through. And arsenic it happened with galore companies, the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic spoilt its fundraising plans.
At the aforesaid time, the D2C startup got shortlisted for Shiprocket’s Rocketfuel accelerator programme successful 2020 which helped it solidify its marketing, merchandise placement, packaging, gathering marque narratives, backing transportation and equity management.
Addressing each would-be entrepreneurs keen to participate the D2C space, Kaushik says, “It is much hard than you tin anticipate. So, get acceptable for things not to enactment retired arsenic you privation and erstwhile you want. Stay focussed connected semipermanent goals but ne'er suffer show of the small, achievable tasks/milestones.”
With an expanding basal of 130 Mn online shoppers and a lowering hesitancy for ecommerce that has been accelerated by Covid-19, the signifier is each acceptable for the D2C segment. According to Inc42’s study titled Decoding India’s $100 Bn+ D2C opportunity, the existent user electronics marketplace is astatine $18.5 Bn and is estimated to scope $30.6 Bn by 2025.
With the emergence of India’s D2C wave, a stronger enabler ecosystem is successful bid to guarantee that the conception reaches its afloat potential. While pure-play D2C operations for smaller brands whitethorn arsenic good beryllium a pipeline dream, much self-realised D2C brands volition payment not lone the ecosystem and its allies but the Indian system astatine large.
The station How Earphone D2C Brand LoopAudio Is Competing With boAt, Noise & Co By Choosing Function Over Form appeared archetypal connected Inc42 Media.