Mivi, which sells quality mobile and electronics accessories, is projecting a 300 percent jump in sales for next year.
At a glance
Founders: Viswanadh Kandula and Midhula Devabhaktuni
Sector: Electronic accessories/ lifestyle
Viswanadh Kandula and Midhula Devabhaktuni, both 31 years old and originally from Vijayawada, met while pursuing higher education at Florida State University in the US. After their courses, Viswanadh started working for a company that exported electronic products from the US to India, while Midhula worked as a software engineer with Xerox and later Raymond James.
During Viswanadh’s time as a trader, he observed that there was no Indian electronics brand that provided quality products at value-plus price points – certified for quality yet accessible to the common man. He felt that the international brands selling their products in India were too expensive. He found the perfect opportunity to use his knowledge and expertise, and decided to start up.
After an eight-year stint in the US, the couple returned to India in 2015. They started up Seminole Electronics Private Limited, and launched the ‘Mivi’ brand to redefine the electronics market and be the “go-to” brand for consumers through quality and technology differentiation at a value-plus price.
Named after the founders - (Mi)dhula and (Vi)swanadh – Mivi sells cables, chargers, custom and designer cases, tempered glass, power banks, car accessories, and audio products such as earphones and headphones.
Bootstrapped, with an initial investment of Rs 3.5 crore, Mivi has been profitable since Q1. Despite offers for external funding, Midhula says the startup is self-sufficient. Over the years, they have invested and implemented profits into building the company.
Mivi targets customers in the 17-35 age group, from college students to working professionals whose salary ranges between Rs 15,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Their target audience comprises those who are tech-savvy, music enthusiasts, fitness freaks, interested in online shopping, and always looking out for electronics and gadgets.
About 60 percent of Mivi’s customers are from Tier I cities. They directly ship products to customers when purchased from their site or through partner marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm etc.
Being an exclusive online brand, Mivi reaches out to customers via engaging content on social media. Midhula says there is an increase in the consumption shift of content from traditional media (newspapers and TV) to online for their target audience.
Viswanadh says Mivi products are designed specifically to meet the needs of Indian consumers. For example, although Mivi’s cable received positive feedback from customers, some customers were facing issues with the cable connector. Although the issue was minor, they took the customer feedback and changed the connector to a flexible SR connector.
The Indian environment causes peculiar problems for existing products in the market. For example, Midhula says, most European chargers sold in the Indian market deteriorate as they cannot cope with the shift in electric current and voltage fluctuations. These chargers are made for the European environment only. But Mivi’s BIS-certified chargers are made to withstand the Indian environment, including voltage fluctuations, and protect the device.
Mivi competes with Chinese labels and premium-priced international brands. “Chinese products are cheap, but they are not certified, which leads to phone damage or product breakage. Very limited international brands are available in India and most of them are expensive,” she says.
At an average basket size of two, Mivi’s products claim to have better features priced at almost half the price of Sony and Philips, which do not have a big presence in their categories. In the chargers’ category, Mivi’s average price is around Rs 1,000. In the music category, it is Rs 3,000.
Mivi provides one-year manufacturer warranty and claims that their representatives fix things if the customer faces any problem with the product. “We try to make it as easy as possible for them to contact us by being available through Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, email and phone,” Midhula says.
The team aims to take the brand global and compete with international brands. “In fact, Amazon Global has already approached us to test our products for the global market; however, we have consciously decided to focus only on India before taking Mivi global,” Midhula says.
With Mivi, one of the first challenges was making customers experience the product. “Mivi was available only online, and we lacked a personal interface with our audience. We had the challenge of communicating the product quality to our audience without the option of offering an experience,” Midhula recounts.
However, by the end of first year, they had a few clients who bought around 20-30 Mivi products. “The response was positive and so quick that it was a great boost to our confidence,” Viswanadh says.
The limited marketing budget was another challenge. “But gradually our products spoke for themselves in the market. We still do not spend aggressively on marketing, but we are actively involved in our after-sales customer service,” Midhula adds.
Mivi is now a team of 40 people across engineering, marketing, R&D, Operations, customer service, and accounting.
Mivi products are currently manufactured in South Korea and China. They design and engineer their products in Hyderabad, and plan to set up a production facility there by the third quarter of 2018. So far, Mivi has been the only seller of its products. “We have had several interests in the partnership and might start going over to that route, next year,” Viswanadh says.
In its first year, Mivi did business worth Rs 8 crore. Currently, they are at a revenue of Rs 2.5 to 3 crore per month and aiming to clock over Rs 30 crore by the end of FY18. Midhula adds that 70 percent of Mivi’s sale comes through e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, and Paytm. They started the e-commerce business on their own website in August 2017.
“Last year, we clocked more than 300 percent revenue, and are projecting a 300 percent jump in sales for next year. By the end of 2018, 50 percent of our portfolio will be in the audio-based category,” Vishwanadh says.
According to a report by Global Market Insights, the earphones and headphones market size will exceed $25 billion by 2024. Advancements in wireless technologies, coupled with the rising demand for fitness-friendly earphones, are expected to drive market growth.
Mivi is expanding product categories with various products in cable, chargers and audio categories. Last year, they rolled out a range of products in the audio category, including Mivi Saxo Bluetooth headsets, and Mivi Thunder Beats Wireless Bluetooth earphones.
This year, they are planning to diversify their portfolio in the audio category, which will include Bluetooth speakers, soundbars, and DJ speakers. The startup plans to foray into wearables in the next two years.
Ecommerce is growing tremendously, but remains a small percentage of total sales. Even today, Tier II and III cities are still mostly reliant on retail stores.
Mivi aims to start and expand an omni-channel retail to be accessible to more number of consumers. But Viswanadh stresses, “Presently, our business is e-commerce exclusive. While we have received inquiries from various dealers in the past, our focus is to not to grow fast but grow in the right direction.”