Bengaluru-based consumer technology startup CREO, has secured $3 million in funding from Sequoia India, Beenext Ventures and India Quotient. Formerly known as Mango Man Consumer Electronics, CREO’s first product offering was Teewe – an HDMI media streaming device that was launched in September 2014. It then went on to launch Teewe 2 in May 2015 and claims to have established itself in about 50,000 households across India.
CREO is a TechSparks 2013 Tech-30 startup.
Mango Man Consumer Electronics had been founded in 2013 by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra. In March 2015, the startup had raised Rs 11 crore in seed funding from Sequoia Capital and India Quotient Fund. Prior to that they had raised angel investments from Kavin Bharti Mittal, Pavan Ongole of Bharti Soft Bank, Arun Seth (ex-British Telecom) and Palaash Ventures.
On the inception of the CREO, Sai, the CEO said, “The idea of building an Android based Operating System for a smartphone stemmed from the realisation that in the current market, while hardware is getting better quite fast, there is not enough differentiation on the software front. We want to be the ones bridging that gap.”
CREO plans to invest the funds in building a software experience through their proprietary Android based Operating System and a flagship smartphone to be launched later in the year. Shedding light on their future plans, Sai, CEO said,
Our team is gearing up to make an operating system and a smartphone that constantly evolves to give you new experiences every month. In the long run, we also plan to license our OS to other OEMs in India and worldwide.
While the smartphone market in India and abroad is growing at a fast pace, most companies have realised that the best way to leverage their consumer base is to have end-to-end control over both hardware and software. Apple has been following this philosophy since inception and in 2012, became the most valuable company of all time.
Though most companies were against the idea of a closed system initially, Apple's success has made many rethink their strategies. Samsung has entered this space with its own Operating system - Tizen OS - and aims to leverage it across their other devices such as in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, smart TVs and wearables to gain a foothold in the upcoming IoT sector. Though Google licences its OS - Android to other device manufacturers, it has its own line of Nexus devices that are the first to get software updates.
Some other players that leverage custom Android Operating system's are OnePlus and Xiaomi. OnePlus has utilised Cyanogen and Oxygen OS for their flagship devies, while Xiaomi adds a layer of their custom 'MIUI' on top of Android.
The IoT revolution is around the corner and having complete control over both hardware and software will give companies the edge and also help them provide a better and more unique experience to end consumers. So it is great to see an Indian player enter this sector. Though not much is known about CREO's plans at this stage, they have an experienced team that has tasted success with Teewe and the backing of marquee investors such as Sequoia India, Beenext and India Quotient gives the impression that they are onto something. It will be interesting to see the specifications of the flagship smartphone and the OS they launch and how the Indian market responds to it.