At Velocity, we are on a mission to empower India’s D2C dreams. While we aim to shape the future of banking and financial services for new-age businesses in India through revenue-based financing, we also aim to inspire you by sharing stirring stories of highly successful D2C brands across the globe. In this article, we discuss the triumphant journey of India’s No.1 wearable brand, boAt, and share top lessons businesses can learn from the founders, Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta.
Fun fact: boAt’s tagline is “Plug into Nirvana”
The boAt Journey
boAt is an India-based consumer electronics brand established in 2016 that specializes in earphones, headphones, stereos, travel chargers, and premium rugged cables. Imagine Marketing Services Private Limited, which does business as BoAt, was incorporated in November 2013 by co-founders Sameer Ashok Mehta and Aman Gupta.
Fun Fact: Though he was a successful entrepreneur, Aman Gupta became more popular when he entered as a “Shark” in the immensely popular show Shark Tank India.
Lessons Brands Can Learn from boAt
Below, we share 6 main lessons budding entrepreneurs can learn from boAt and its founders.
One of the first factors that helped the brand was timing. It was in 2016 that India saw a rapid increase in the number of people using tech gadgets like mobiles and laptops. This can be attributed mainly to the launch of the Jio sim launch. Another helping factor was people’s fascination with wireless earphones. Apple launched its first AirPods in 2016, and it had the public wowed. It was also the year that many mobile phone brands stopped shipping earphones along with the phone. Even if they did send a pair, they were of poor quality. Entering the market at the correct time led to the brand making more than INR 100 Cr in just two years!
Another factor that needs to be highlighted here is the gradual increase in the online shopping trend in India. More and more shoppers, mostly millennials and GenZ, started shopping online. For the first three years, boAt was completely operated online.
Fun fact: 80% of boAt’s sales today happen online.
Until boAt was launched, earphones were seen just as a utility product. However, boAt changed it all. Earphones and headphones became more of a fashion statement than merely an electronic gadget. Did you know boAt’s story is often compared with that of the OnePlus? This is mainly because of how boAt positioned itself in the market. While there were over 200 hearables brands available in the market then, there were a few that were well known. These include Bose, Apple AirPods, JBL, Sennheiser, etc. However, they were in the ultra-premium and premium categories. That means not everyone can afford it.
Enter, boAt. The brand leveraged the pricing gap that was seen in the market and positioned itself as an affordable hearables brand that also guaranteed superior quality. How did boAt differentiate itself from its competitors in the same category? Read along to find out.
Fun fact: The lower prices of boAt products forced JBL to reduce their prices in India.
If marketing were a game, the team at boAt would be the last man standing! We are huge fans of the marketing strategy adopted by the brand. Be it partnering with other brands, employing influencers, or acing the social media game, boAt has done it all, and how well! For example, boAt collaborated with celebrity Designer Masaba Gupta to launch a limited-edition collection of funky headphones at the Lakmé Fashion Week.
But here’s the thing. Every brand today collaborates with influencers to increase its brand’s reach. How, then, did boAt manage to stand out from its competitors? Remember we mentioned that boAt’s story is often compared with that of OnePlus? Here’s why. OnePlus had other competitors, and yet the brand managed to stand out mainly because of the perceived value factor (aka Robert Downey Jr.). In context, while boAt had other competitors in the same pricing category, what really helped the brand was the value that the public perceived due to its collaboration with celebrities like Hardik Pandya, Kiara Advani, and Kartik Aryan. They leveraged India’s love for music, cricket, and Bollywood and see how it worked out for them!
Their social media channels are filled with uber-cool pictures, videos, and artwork that convey the essence of the brand. Be it their Instagram stories, memes, their moment marketing, event marketing, or contests, the team at boAt knows what clicks with their target audience.
Fun fact: boAt’s first-ever Facebook ad showed a broken-at-an-end Apple cable and read: Tired of buying charging cable? Switch to boAt’s indestructible charging cable.
Power of patience
Did you know boAt isn’t Aman’s first business venture? Aman’s family has a business in the electronics trade. He worked with them for a few years before pursuing his MBA. He also co-founded Advanced Telemedia Pvt. Ltd. and worked with multiple brands, including JBL and Sennheiser, before deciding to step down. Sameer, on the other hand, is the owner of Redwood Interactive, which distributes computer gaming hardware and peripherals under the Redgear brand.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the idea for boAt came into being. The initial two years were spent on market research and product selection. However, it wasn’t without challenges. The duo was denied loans by banks, investors didn’t have faith in the brand, and people didn’t even know a brand named boAt existed. However, this didn’t stop the founders. Today, boAt is one of the most profitable D2C brands in India and the 5th largest wearables brand in the world (sharing the position with FitBit).
Lesson: Be patient and work towards your goal. Don’t give up just because others do not believe in you.
Work With Your Target Audience
Yes, you read it right. While many brands worldwide go for seasoned professionals with years of experience, the duo wanted to work with the youth of the country. Since the main target audience for the brand was the younger generation in the country, they employed more millennials and GenZ workforce. The more people you work with from your target audience, the more you start thinking like them and understanding their preferences. Right?
For example, the past few years have seen an increase in the demand for sports and fall-proof earphones from the youth. The brand then launched fall-proof headphones and introduced interesting colors for its products.
Lesson: Know your target audience inside out. Always research what they like, what trends they follow, etc, so you can build products to stand out in the commoditized market.
Research, Develop, and Research More
The brand started seeing profits right from its first product, an Apple charging cable. However, that did not stop the team from going all in and building more products. In fact, per reports, boAt invests millions in research and development alone. From hearables to begin with, the company recently entered into wearables and has quickly become the second biggest in the category. Over the years, boAt has brought multiple innovations to the table. With tons of novel technology disrupting the market every day, it is only sensible to be on your toes and invest in extensive research and develop new products.
Lesson: Never stop innovating. If you want to have a profitable business, ensure you invest in research and development more than anything else.
Saying boAt got the wind in its sail at the right time would be an understatement. Every business has its ups and downs. What really matters is what you learn from them and how you come out of it stronger. That’s all in this edition.
The objective of our series is to show everyone who dreams of having their own business that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Is there any other brand that you want us to explore as a part of this series? Let us know in the comments section below.
If you need funds to start your marketing campaigns, your search ends here. We, at Velocity, are India’s largest revenue-based financier and offer growth capital of up to Rs 4 crore to D2C and e-commerce brands. Businesses with healthy revenue streams can get instant funds and can make repayments as their revenue grows. To know more about revenue-based financing, check out this complete RBF guide.
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