In 2014, a homegrown bootstrapped D2C brand called “Noise” started selling smartphone accessories like cases and covers on online platforms such as amazon and Flipkart. In 2017, it clocked about Rs 24 crore in sales, of which Rs 15 crore came from online retail alone!
By the end of 2017, the brand launched its new products – smartwatches and wireless headphones. And post their pivot to smartwatches, they grew at a rapid pace. In less than 4 years, Noise established a presence in India’s smart wearable and hearable segment and boasted of being a market leader in the smartwatch category.
Fast-forward to today, and that brand has built a smartwatch empire worth Rs 373 Crore per year. Having witnessed close to 17X growth in the last 30 months, the brand aims to rake in Rs 850 Crore net revenue in FY22.
How did they do it? This story of bootstrapped heroes’ series will explore the fascinating journey of Noise. Read on!
How Noise Came Into Being
Gurugram-based brothers Gaurav and Amit Khatri, both in their early thirties, always had entrepreneurial ambitions. While Gaurav Khatri had completed his commercial pilot training in the Philippines, a fashion management professional, Amit, was in business – he was a supply chain partner for global fashion brands. But one thing that was common in between them was – they both were always passionate about technology and innovation.
It was the year 2014 when smartphones, smartphone cases, Bluetooth earpods, etc., exploded on Flipkart and Amazon India. However, both Amit and Gaurav both faced the issue of getting mobile covers that were of good quality and at affordable prices. So they thought, if we are self-purchasing outside, then why not try to solve this problem for others?
This was the moment when Gaurav and Amit decided to start a company that would make “Noise” – literally. They invested their savings of Rs 7.18 crore into starting their business of smartphone covers and accessories in 2014. This was easiest for them because it was a lifestyle product and Amit had proper knowledge and experience in handling lifestyle products and international clients.
By the end of 2017, the cousin duo was at a crossroads in their pursuit of entrepreneurial success. While Noise was doing well as a business, something was amiss – it was not a brand! During the same time, they also witnessed a sudden shift in the mobile accessories market where the average selling price (ASP) of mobile covers and accessories was dropping at an alarming pace.
It was the end of 2017 when the duo made the ultimate pivot that would revolutionize Noise. Being in the mobile accessories business, they were aware that wireless audible products, smartwatches, and products associated with the smartphone-connected ecosystem were selling like hotcakes. The products were consumer-friendly and the youth found it convenient as they could use it while on the go!
Therefore, in 2018, they launched their new products – a smartwatch and wireless earbuds.
The watch was successful and quickly became one of the most popular products in India. Today, it has become one of the biggest players in the Indian smartwatch segment competing with global players.
In fact, Noise has been featured in Forbes, Times of India, Hindustan Times, and many more leading publications! Currently, according to Counterpoint Research, Noise ranks among the top 9 smartwatch brands globally and stands third in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region in terms of shipment. Moreover, a recent Counterpoint report stated that Noise led the market in 2021 with a 27% share and over 278% YoY growth in the smartwatch category.
Noise has also been named one of the top 50 wearables companies in the world by Forbes magazine and being chosen as one of Asia’s most promising startups by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Let’s move on to know the strategies Amit and Gaurav followed to build their brand.
Lessons You Can Learn From Noise
1. Customers and CX should be the #1 priority
As a brand, right from the start, Noise’s focus has completely been on its consumers. Being a D2C brand, they were quite close to their consumers, constantly talking to them, to understand what their needs were and taking feedback. They implement consumer feedback in their new product designs and bring in a lot of innovation, providing customers with a better experience. In fact, Noise cuts its margins to some extent, but does not compromise on the quality of packaging, customer support, etc.
2. Don’t depend on just one product
As a brand, Noise has diversified its product range to include a fitness tracker, Bluetooth speaker, and noise-canceling headset which all have different goals but still retain the simplicity of their original smartwatch. This demonstrates that even if a company starts off with just one successful product, it can still continue to innovate and expand its business.
3. Be Fearless
Sticking to their philosophy of never giving up, both Gaurav and Amit took on big brands such as JBL, Harman, and FitBit in the market with their products. They differentiated themselves by creating quality, innovative products & offering them at affordable prices.
They continue to work hard and stay focused on what they’re good at creating a great user experience for consumers. In fact, Noise doesn’t believe in discounting its products as it feels this might deteriorate the products’ value.
4. Choose the marketing channels that fit your business needs
Surprisingly, the brand has been effective without spending anything on performance marketing campaigns. In fact, they focussed more on getting traffic organically. Noise opted for a blog/tutorial style of marketing that is perfect for their target audience as it’s personal and interactive.
Later on, they also utilized influencers to create buzz around their products, as well as using social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to reach a wider audience. Noise has created many campaigns over the years to build its brand awareness and reach its customer base. The brand also did sports marketing by investing in cricket and ran campaigns on Hotstar and Youtube that were big hits amongst their audiences.
Here is a link to the video that they created for marketing their smartwatch – Noise ColorFit Pro 2 with Rohit Sharma: https://youtu.be/NI0dLj2XFL8.
5. Think about how to make your business sustainable
As mentioned above, Noise has always been a company that focuses on its customers. They constantly innovate and expand their product range to make sure their consumers are satisfied. This helps to ensure the sustainability of their business.
While this is one of the key ways that made Noise sustainable as a business. another reason was that they were operating lean. The team at Noise was lean during their early days. In fact, there were days when Amit had to step away from his day-to-day work at 6 pm because there were not enough resources to handle customer queries simultaneously.
Today, Noise specializes in producing smartwatches, with the eventual goal of becoming a mainstream player in the market. Currently, the brand is planning to enter into partnerships with large-format retail stores across the country to increase its reach and presence. Additionally, it will invest heavily in marketing campaigns to encourage consumers to try out its products. By 2022, Noise expects total net sales to be worth Rs 500 crore annually.
When you look at all achievements so far, it seems like this story is not yet over! Although Noise seems to be outmatched by bigger players as well as newer products on offer today, they have stuck with their mission till now – aiming to revolutionize how people connect with time. The duo’s story also proves that hard work does pay off if you’re passionate about what you do.
Do not forget this when starting your own business down the road!
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.
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