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boAt trains sights on millennials looking for trendy, affordable audio products and accessories

Libza Mannan
17th May 2018
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Aimed at millennials and cash-strapped tech-savvy consumers, Mumbai-based boAt Lifestyle offers audio products and mobile accessories that are available in trendy designs, innovative features, and pocket-friendly prices.       

At a glance

Startup: boAt

Founders: Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta

Year it was founded: 2016

Where it is based: Mumbai

The problem it solves: Offers affordable and fashionable consumer electronics

Sector: Lifestyle tech

Funding raised: Rs 6 crore from Fireside Ventures

Being an average tech savvy person, I always like to be clued into what’s happening in the gadget world. Six months ago, when I was looking for a compact Bluetooth speaker to fill my small room with quality sound, one caught my attention and I landed up on Amazon.

Since budget was a constraint, while browsing through the website, I chanced upon an interesting brand – boAt.

The product boAt was offering was affordable - around Rs 1300 - which seemed great as the description boasted of features like dust-proof, shockproof, and a 1000 mAh battery, among others. The brand intrigued me and I wanted to know more.

With its headquarters in Mumbai, boAt is a consumer electronics brand targeting tech-savvy consumers, mostly millennials, looking for stylish and quality products that are affordable too.

boAt's co-founders, Aman Gupta (left) and Sameer Mehta

Available online across prominent online platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and offline via retail chains like Croma, boAt offers a wide range of audio products or ‘hearables’ and mobile accessories like earphones, headphones, speakers, travel chargers, and charging cables.

Talking about the top-selling products, boAt claims they are headphones (for its good bass) and bluetooth speakers, which are reportedly water proof and shock proof. boAt products starts at prices as low as Rs 199 (for charging cable).

According to a Future Market Insights’ report titled ‘Mobile Phone Accessories Market: India Industry Analysis & Opportunity Assessment, 2016-2026’, mobile phone accessories market in India will reach a value of $3,545 million by the end of 2026, registering a growth of 10.4 percent, with further penetration of internet.

In this robustly growing mobile accessories market, the space is currently dominated by global giants like Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, and Lenovo, among others.

While these players continuously aim to strengthen their foothold in the Indian market, an unorganised market of substandard quality products also continues to thrive to suit the pocket of cash-strapped consumer. However, the evolved consumer is looking for something more.

To end this search, boAt Lifestyle made its foray into the market in 2016.

“Our customer is someone who wants to stand out and not be lost in a crowd. He wants to flaunt his personal belongings that are an extension of his personal style statement. That’s the customer that we want to reach and educate about boAt. Once he experiences the boAt style of life, we know, he’ll immediately switch over and become a loyalist,” says Aman Gupta, co-founder of boAt.

boAt’s presence

Marrying quality and tech, this two-year-old brand claims to sell 4,200 units a day and adding a new boAthead (consumer) to the family every three minutes.

Though there are several Indian players with similar offerings flooding the market, boAt attributes its growing popularity to its millennial traction.

With a keen eye on product design and affordability, Aman highlights that boAt wants to create a consumer tech lifestyle brand that addresses issues most commonly faced by millennials and Generation Z through solutions that offer the best in technology, in the trendiest form.

boAt started its journey, backed by the two co-founders and has today grown to a 32-member team with offices in Delhi and Mumbai. Its products are made through contract manufacturing in China.

A few of the boAt products

When asked about control over quality, the brand claims that it has a strong focus on offering quality products and this is ensured by boAt’s second co-founder, Sameer Mehta, who is at the forefront to deliver a superior boAt experience.

“Sameer has been an entrepreneur for over a decade and has a strong understanding of backend operations and finance. His strength lies in customer service, quality control, R&D and sourcing, and at boAt he ensures that the brand maintains its edge in terms of quality” adds Aman.

Decoding the boAt journey

An alumnus of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Aman Gupta is also a Chartered Accountant and has earlier worked with prominent global brands like Citibank, KPMG, and JBL (Harman) as Sales Director.

Aman recalls that it was during his stint at JBL that he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and felt an urge to ‘build a brand of his own’.

One thing led to another and the next few years were spent in ideating and experimenting. During this time, he had set up Imagine Marketing, his first launch pad to bring about a big shift in the consumer lifestyle electronics space and wanted to make a change in the way Indian consumers were listening to music and staying connected.

However, his desire to disrupt the consumer electronics market still persisted and in 2015 Aman teamed up with his friend, Sameer Mehta as he believed that they complemented each other’s skills in audio and mobile accessories. After a year of market analysis and product R&D, the duo entered the market with boAt charging cables.

“The idea was to solve the common issue of breaking charger cables – hence in 2016 we entered the market with tough cables – a simple yet sustainable solution by using tough braiding to considerably extend the lifespan of boAt’s cables,” says Sameer.

While Aman has worked with some of the biggest global brand names in the audio and mobile accessories industry for over a decade with expertise in sales and marketing, Sameer has been an entrepreneur for the same period with a strong understanding of backend operations and finance.

A graduate from Raheja College, Sameer holds a Diploma in Accounting and Auditing from Narsee Monjee. He is also on the board of Kores India.

Plans for next big sail by boAt

Moving ahead, boAt is looking to strengthen its foothold in India first and then enter the international market. It recently received funding of Rs 6 crore by Fireside Ventures. Besides expansion, boAt would use the investment for working capital needs and enhance its R&D operations to enable it to continue to innovate and address customer needs with the best in style and technology.

Along with the funding, boAt also has the founder of Fireside Ventures, Kanwaljit Singh, as the brand’s mentor.

Decoding the brand’s strategy to get more boAtheads on board, Sameer highlights that it’s a two-pronged approach. The first is to make the discerning consumer aware of a better way of consuming sound to create the category of ‘hearables’ and second, to continue to grow this category by converting the traditional user to a boAt way of life purely on the strength of the product and the user experience.

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