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Careem Mafia's startup aims to bring devices into shared economy

LivLyt, a Dubai-based device subscription platform, offers companies and individuals access to the latest gadgets, including smartphones and laptops, with flexible and affordable monthly subscriptions, without the hassles of ownership.

Careem Mafia's startup aims to bring devices into shared economy

Tuesday March 28, 2023,

5 min Read

As part of Careem, the Dubai-based ride-hailing company, for seven years, Atul Bansal watched how businesses were built and achieved significant scale.  

“Careem is like a college, where you learn hands-on building a scalable business. I was sure the next role had to be a startup. It was a matter of time of identifying the right problem,” Bansal tells Yourstory Gulf Edition (YS Gulf)

His quest to start something of his own led him to establish Dubai-based Livlyt, along with Arvind Einstein, his colleague from Careem. 

The device subscription platform offers companies and individuals to access the latest gadgets, including smartphones and laptops, with flexible and affordable monthly subscriptions, without the hassles of ownership. 

In the first decade of his career, Bansal took the path of consultancy and management, working with KPMG, McKinsey, and Pizza Hut. Wanting to work for a startup got him to join Careem in Dubai in 2017, where he joined the central operations team. 

LivLyt

LivLyt Founders

Building LivLyt

“When you get a ride in the rocket ship, you don’t ask your role; you just take the seat. For five years, I had multiple roles. I was the chief of staff and regional director of operations. I was overseeing the supply side of the business, monitoring 14 markets for Careem,” Bansal says. 

The idea for LivLyt stemmed from Careem. The startup’s impact in the region in bringing access to mobility was strong, especially in helping those who could not explore opportunities earlier because they could not travel. 

“The world was moving away from ownership, and there was a growing focus on the shared economy. But I realised when it comes to our personal consumption, especially devices like laptops and smartphones, they are ownership driven. The only way to use these assets was to buy them,” he explains. 

While people could buy devices in instalments, online, cash, and telco modes, it was all ownership. Bansal and Einstein felt strongly about disrupting the personal consumption category, the same way Careem did with mobility, which led to the birth of LivLyt in 2022. 

Why buy? 

“Every year, you want a new phone, But giving up one phone and buying another phone was a challenge. What if you could subscribe to devices? Not just your company laptop or phone but also your personal devices?” he says. 

LivLyt allows people to subscribe to a device as long as they need it. And once they are done, they can either unsubscribe, upgrade, or return it. 

The startup unlocks the power of shared economy to personal devices—it gives consumers the option to use more devices at a lower price but also makes it affordable for everyone to use. 

“Once you pay to use a product and not to own it, the price drastically drops. For many people, it is a deterrent to using a certain brand of products. But with a subscription, there is no commitment to own,” he adds. 

The model works on the customer and business side. On the customer front, Bansal says, it is as easy as subscribing to Netflix. 

The customer can go online on the app or website and looks through the listed devices. They select the one they plan to subscribe to, choose a plan—three, six, or 12 months—and place the order. The device is shipped to them once the order is approved. 

Further, its in-built Liv Care programme covers damage costs for the device, where LivLyt bears 80% and the subscriber bears 20% of the cost.  

“Once the period of subscription ends, the subscriber has the choice to renew the subscription or return the device and look at another device. Also, the consumer can request a buyout of the device. So, the customer gets the complete flexibility to decide,” explains Bansal. 

The model 

While the team didn’t share the subscription prices, Bansal said, on average, if a customer chooses a 12-month plan, they pay 60% of the device value. At no point in time does the customer pay equal to or more than the device value. Even if they take an 18-month plan, they aren’t charged for the full month. 

LivLyt works with authorised sellers and OEMs. It has tie-ups with the wholesales and distributors of Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone and laptop companies. These devices are approved and verified and come with a warranty and insurance. 

“We work like a circular economy business model. We aim to bring a more sustainable way to consumer tech devices. Instead of buying, using, and discarding, we buy our devices and give them to the customer for a subscription. When it’s returned, we redeploy them. We ensure the device is used for its full lifecycle of at least three to four years,” says Bansal. 

The startup makes money by the reusing of devices by multiple users over and over again. 

According to a Wamda report, while in its early stages, the MENA region sees an increase in the subscription economy, driven by the growth of ecommerce and digital payment infrastructures. Further, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, and Egypt see a strong subscription base. 

The global subscription ecommerce market, according to iMarc, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 68.4% from 2022 to 2027.

Some of LivLyt’s competitors include India-based Furlenco and Rentomojo and Germany-based Grover, which focuses on electronics. 

Last year, LivLyt raised a $600,000 pre-seed funding round through an angel network, with participation from ex-Careem employees. 

“We are now seeing significant demand for the device subscription programme for startups and SMEs. We are now entering the Saudi Arabia market,” says Bansal. 

(Featured image credit: Nihar Apte)

(The article is updated to reflect the funding amount and correct a typo in the founder's name.)


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Edited by Suman Singh