boAt, The Indian brand

Whenever it comes to emotions, music is the therapy. Some burst out of feelings, only a few come up with an idea of supporting them and understanding the needs. Earphones would be a better companion than a boxy 5.1 speakers. Boat, has been a revolutionary lifestyle brand that produces stylish and a good quality earphones to feed the Indian listeners at affordable prices without being addressed as the cheapest in the market.

Founders of boats:

A New Delhi startup founded by Aman Gupta and Co-founded by Sameer Mehta in 2016. Being a charger cable manufacturer for a long time, the predicament slowly turned towards making wearables that gives out high quality sounds. Boats was started with an aim to serve the population in the grounds of affordability, durability, comfortability and most of all a stylish wearable that can add to the look of the wearer.

Aman Gupta is a Chartered Accountant, worked in his family business for years after quitting Citi bank (2003-2006). A job offer from JBL which signed him for 2 years, positioned to look for demanding products that suit the Indian market, which came in handy for his future venture, Boat. The experience at previous work places helped him in seeking for on demand consumer electronics.

Sameer Mehta, who is already a business owner, Redwood interactive and Co-founder of Imagine Marketing.

At the time of launch there were very few brands for Indians to choose from the market at lower cost. At 2019 boat was selling speakers that are compact and bass friendly. No quality headphones were available at a cheaper price with a brand value attached. Headphones now ranges from ₹350 to ₹1500, the lowest among the peers.

  • Early in the growth, Boats was selling a speaker every 4 minutes.
  • On the occasion of Ganesh Chathurthi, 18,000 units of wireless earbuds got sold within two minutes on the launch day.

Brand promotion by the founder himself:

Roping in television actors and sport celebrities, as Indians highly correlate with IPL brands and the performance of individual teams this would be a right choice according to the founder. As far as entry barriers are questioned, no player in India is producing a high quality, well designed fashionable product at this price. Topping it all, the community of followers supports the brand. The moat will further be deepened when manufacturing units shift domestically.

In our country, Bollywood and cricket always click as Indians resonate closely with them“, Gupta

Boat has added value by binding with film actress Kiara Advani for the fashion color red, blue Hardhik Pandya from Mumbai Indians and other IPL teams respectively to market the product. Marketing will work better only when consumers oscillate with it or give what they want, Boats did both which strategically placed them on the benefitting track.

  • Getting the grounds right: Boats was making cable and charger with no idea on the size of the market. Foraying into audio devices and gadgets are setting them in pace matching its ambitious goals.
  • Follow the consumer: Consumer expectations and preferences are rapidly changing in a shorter haul than before and capturing them at the right time is difficult. Those are the gaps a producer should look forward to make.
  • D2C and E-commerce: Boats left the sales part to e-commerce platforms in order to concentrate on research and development. After the establishment of brand and high quality buds, boats jumped partially into D2C which cuts the advertising costs to the platforms. Boats is now omnipresent and sell across different platforms.
  • Roping in relative brand partners is key to establish brand initially, MSDhoni on paints or mutual fund advertisement won’t look good. Relevancy creates the vibe.

Portfolio diversification:

Earphones and audio devices dominate a very large part of the revenue which limits the scope of revenue and increases business risk. Earphones and headphones were the only product supporting the revenues which is too narrow, a new entrant breaking any one of the moat could easily acquire the market. Boat is branching out to produce a gaming headset, professional gaming keyboards and mouse, which keeps them away from core electronic devices. MisFit, the brand sells trimmer and smart watches, the management is expecting 100% jump in sales.

Boat is trying to capture all the available product markets whilst maintaining the verticals of the previous products. Separate teams are involved to perpetuate ongoing and upcoming products.

Competitors:

Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, who have been the market runners might get affected by the boat’s entry into smartwatches and the fitness category. With Qualcomm and Warburg Pincus being the major investors boat is breaking through existing players like Bose, Samsung, Real me, mainly Xiaomi. High quality and affordability has been the paramount of boat which earlier other brands leveraged to enjoy high economic profits.

Price war isn’t visible, but the market would gradually transform into perfect competition if economic profits stay high for a longer time.

CompanyEstablishedHeadquarters
Portronics2010New Delhi
Signature Acoustics2010Navi Mumbai
iBall2001Mumbai
Intex1996New Delhi
Zebronics1997Chennai
Syska1989Pune
Muve Acoustics2018Mumbai
MiVi2015Hyderabad
Evidson2015Cochin
Noise2014Gurgoan
Crossbeats2015Bengaluru
Boult2017New Delhi
Fingers2019Mumbai
A list of earphone and headphone manufacturers in India

Manufacturing and Research:

The products are manufactured in a contract basis by the Chinese manufacturers, making boat wearables affordable without mislay in quality. Sentiments between India and China hasn’t been pleasant lately due to government clashes that chocked both imports and exports.

  • Trading restrictions and import inspections.
  • Enmity from and towards China.
  • Transforming manufacturing terrains from China to the close substitute India.

Currently boat operates wholly in China, including R&D. A team from Banglore is closely working with industry leaders to bore into recent developments to constantly rev up the sound quality. As the threats of china are zooming, boat is planning to shift to India, which will take no less than 2 -3 years. The first part of the migration would target to become 50-60% indigenous. As India is becoming the global hub for manufacturing as Chinese doors were half shut, low cost production and price reduction can be expected.

Believing India would support the tech business through Product Linked Incentive Schemes (PLIs), the manufacturing has been shifting to India. No words were out about price fluctuations after shifting fully to the home ground.

Challenge:

The management feels expanding the organization as the major challenge. The supply chain, IT systems have to be upgraded in parallel to the Research and development. Boat is still small in size and failing to add experts to the management is the major reason for too many small cap stocks to terribly go under. A perfect setup for growth can soon be expected, even before the IPO. Without a defined structure, boat has achieved that most of the listed small caps haven’t, with a well built organisation the business may head north and continue to grow faster.

boAts IPO:

The planned size of the IPO is between ₹3000 – 3500 cr. The IPO can be expected by the second HY21.

  • FY 20 700 crore growing at 30-40%
  • Estimated FY 21 1000 crore revenue. EBITDA has stayed positive.

Is boat the decade’s Micromax?

When asked about this in an interview, Instant feedback from prior sales keeps the company survive because time lag makes any product older by the lay which will keep brands & manufacturers late to the trend. This is the sole reason an indigenous brand like Micromax failed to make the electronics market. E-commerce is the smoothest lead to improve sales at the induction, the presence across platforms reduces the cost of advertising. E-commerce is expanding and India’s majority population is consuming more than ever, this data keeps manufacturers rolling new products according to consumer demands and needs. “The consumer electronics market is growing and Boat is well positioned to grow above that“.