How this startup by IIT-Bombay grads is revolutionizing innovations, one product at a time

2nd Sep 2016
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Started in March 2013, the company Humming Whale Product Innovations aims to bridge the gap between an idea and an innovation by providing the right mentorship and approach to ideators in terms of collaboration, technical expertise and marketing. It was started by two IIT Bombay graduates, .

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After the success of the Gladius Blade cricket bat and other innovative products, Humming Whale has come up with a fun yet informative colouring book called “Around India in 40 doodles”, based on travel. Launched by Soha Ali Khan, this intricate colouring book involves 40 Indian cities on 40 pages, doodled by Jeenal Patel, who is a graduate from the MIT Institute of Design, Pune.

The idea behind the colouring book

Through one of their mutual friends at Crossword, the team at Humming Whale came to know about the growing trend of colouring books for adults. They also found that a lot of the books were nature or mandala-driven. Team Humming Whale worked on an idea where the focus would be on India, and something which people could connect with while having a fun activity together. Stressing on the Indian connection of the book, Ayush said, “We came up with a few interesting and novel themes, and given Jeenal's love for travel, the Indian cities theme was decided on.”

Regarding the research done to get the doodles right, Jeenal, the illustrator, pitched in, “We did not want to focus just on architectural beauty, but also on the culture, food and local flavour of the city. Internet research played a big role in shortlisting the key locations of each city, but we also got in touch with friends and acquaintances from different cities to identify their rare and unknown jewels.” Niyati Joshi from The Write Place insisted that the motto of Crossword is to Educate, Entertain and Enlighten through innovative content, and hence, the idea of this colouring book was encouraged.

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The colouring book’s market potential: The Creative Space

The creative industry of India contributes more than $1 billion to the economy.

The phenomenon of colouring books for adults is a worldwide trend. In 2015, Johanna Basford, a Scottish illustrator, released The Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest, colouring books with intricate patterns of birds, foliage, and a treasure hunt. Both books made it to the best sellers list, and they sold 12 million copies worldwide in 2015.

At Crossword in India, colouring books for adults currently account for 5 percent of the total non-fiction section. Besides the nature-inspired designs, books themed on Harry Potter and Game of Thrones are popular in India. There are very few books that are India-based, one being authored by Devdutt Pattanaik on Indian mythology.

The book publishing market in India is $2.8 billion, with the the industry growing at about 15 percent YOY (the global average is 12 percent).

The creative design space plays host to many up and coming startups, such as Indibni, Canvs.in, The Minimalist, Bananabandy and Indiefolio. However, there are portfolio sites in the space like Behance and Touchtalent, and marketplaces like Postergully and Cupick, which make up the design startup space.

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The Gladius Blade cricket bat goes global

Last year, team Humming Whale developed a new type of cricket bat called the ‘Gladius Blade’, which is designed to make the bat swifter through the air and safer with the edges. The Gladius Blade cricket bat got approved by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and has been tried and tested by first class cricketers in India.

The bat has been handed out to a few coaches as well, including Praveen Amre and Sanjay Bangar. The coaches find this bat to be better aerodynamically as compared to the standard design.

The bat has now been exclusively launched with Amazon India. As a premier range of bats for semiprofessionals, Amazon has exclusively launched the Gladius range of bats in India at three price points, which vary according to the willow quality.

Also, this bat has been licensed to Slazenger, UK, which has launched the bats with Gladius technology under the name 'Aeroblade' in the UK market. It has been licensed to Mace Cricket, USA, which sells it under the name 'Mace Gladius', licensed to Cricket Merchant for the US market exclusively.

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The Sports Market in India

With a burgeoning of the Indian middle class, there has been a dramatic rise in the disposable income for recreational and leisure spending. Nearly 34 percent of the middle class belongs to the 15–34 age segment. The growing focus on leading a healthy and active lifestyle, coupled with a deep-rooted intrinsic interest in sports, means there is an immense potential if sports is positioned in a manner similar to that of gyms and fitness classes. Each user spends an average of Rs 15,000 yearly on playing sports, apart from the allied consumption of sports merchandise and related products such as equipment and beverages. A conservative estimate puts the total market size at around $5 billion. Tuhin Mishra, managing director of Baseline, a startup that deals in sports marketing and licensing, said the overall sports industry in India had grown 10 percent, from Rs 4,372.5 crore in 2013 to Rs 4,806.9 crore in 2015. Other sports startups include ‘The Football Mind’, e-retailer Sports365, immersive sports experience space SMAAASH, and sports education–focused EduSports.

The “Walking in Water” setup

Last year, the team installed a setup of their innovative product “Walking in water” in the amusement park Essel world in Mumbai. The installment recently completed a three month trial at Della adventures in Lonavala, and proved its economic viability. The team plans to get this permanently set up at Della adventures soon.

Cricketer Sanju Samson tries the bat

This year, Humming Whale has pulled in about Rs 50 lakh in total revenues. The gladius blade cricket bat (Rs 8 lakh), the rewritable t-shirt (Rs 10 lakh), and the cricalarm app (Rs 8 lakh), have all brought in revenue for Humming Whale through their own innovations; the rest coming via client projects. About 700 colouring books have been sold in the past three months, and the team has a royalty agreement involved. The company is currently bootstrapped and plans to create more innovative products in the coming years.

Check out the product innovations by Humming Whale Product Innovations Pvt. Ltd. here

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