Listening to good music is the best way to treat yourself and if the device you are listening on is a boAt device, it is indeed icing on the cake. Such has been the revolution of this lifestyle brand which provides us affordable, stylish, and good quality consumer electronics.
The brand offers us a range of products from an extensive catalog of headphones, earphones, speakers, to travel chargers & premium cables. There have been excellent brands in the market that offered a great range of products but the problem with them was that they were either very expensive or looked awful to the eyes. This is where the boAt lifestyle brought-in the revolution. This India based startup has managed to attract customers with its stylish products.
So, in this blog, we will be covering the small but interesting journey of boAt Lifestyle. We will also learn about their products in brief to understand the extension of their catalog. We will also look at their investors and market performance over the years.
So, to begin with, let us start with the minds and ideas behind this startup.
What was the idea behind boAt?
boAt Lifestyle doesn’t boast of a very prevalent history. It is a Delhi-based startup that was started in 2016 by Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta. The company term itself as a lifestyle brand that deals in fashionable consumer electronics. boAt Lifestyle was started with the sole aim of bringing affordable, durable, and more importantly, ‘fashionable’ audio products and accessories to millennials.
Having started as a cable manufacturer and seller company, today, it has expanded its catalog. Now it sells a wide variety of fashionable electronic goods ranging from travel chargers and premium cables to headphones, earphones, speakers. The company is steadily growing and extending its services to millions of ‘boAtheads’ (A term the company uses for all its consumers and brand ambassadors). It has been only four years since the journey but the company stands tall with more than 800,000 happy customers.
Founders Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta
One of its founders Aman Gupta was familiar with the electronics trade. He worked for three years (2007-10) in his family business. Before joining the business, he had completed his Chartered Accountancy and worked in Citibank between 2003 and 2006.
In 2010, he enrolled for a MBA at the Indian School of Business (ISB) which led to his placement at KPMG, the auditing firm. He worked there for a brief period of six months but those were enough to affect him. He was fascinated by electronics and gadgets and applied at JBL. The company signed him for two years. Gupta managed the start-up’s offline distribution through stores such as Croma and Reliance Digital. A little later, he also got into product management. His job was to identify the right products for the Indian market. His learnings while working for JBL came in handy during product developments at boAt.
The importance of this story will be understood as we move further.
“We are like Zara of electronics, not highly-priced like luxury brands or cheap like Chinese products”
– Sameer Mehta, Co-founder, boAt
Investors and market performance of the company over the years
boAt Lifestyle is a company that has just started to sail in the deep sea of audio devices market. However, the numbers are promising for them as they continuously rise amidst all the competition. The company struggled in its initial two years. Aman and Sameer had started with a capital of around 3 million, coming from the two founders.
In 2018, Kanwaljit Singh of Fireside Ventures invested 60 million in the company. Singh was impressed with the founders’ ability to white spots, the product quality, and right targeting.
The company is continuously performing in the market. It has clocked more than Rs 100 crore in domestic sales alone. From just two founders, the company is now a 35-member team and has its offices in the top two metro cities- Mumbai and Delhi.
According to filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), boAt’s FY2018 revenues grew to Rs 108 crore from only Rs 27 crore in FY2017. That is more than three times growth year on year. The young consumer electronics player claims that it now sells over 6,000 units per day with four units sold every minute.
It also adds one boAt head to its family every three minutes. boAt is now projecting sales of Rs 500 crore over the next five years. boAt audio was ranked as the leading brand in the ear wear segment, as per the market data released by leading IT market research and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
In 2019, boAt audio was the leading brand with a 27.3 percent market share in the ear wear category. In FY 2020, it clocked a revenue of Rs 500 crore, up by 108.8 percent from Rs 239.44 crore in FY 2019, while the business has been profitable for five years straight.
In its initial days, boAt sold its products mainly on e-commerce platforms- Amazon and Flipkart. Today, the company is present in 5,000 retail stores, supported by 20 distributors. The company claims to be selling 10,000 units a day and four million units per year. It says it has served more than 20 million Indians till now.
Reasons behind their success
There is no single mantra for success. It requires connecting several dots to form a line. boAt is no exception in the terms of the process. However, they modified their approach from the beginning when they projected themselves as a lifestyle brand and kept on improvising. There are several factors that put boAt on the road to success. So, let’s discuss them.
1.Consumer-first approach and improvisations
The company has a specific term for its community of users. Anyone who owns a boAt product is anointed as boAthead and made a part of the clan. This gives users a feeling of belongingness. The company believes in closely observing the needs of users and developing products accordingly. Its first product was an indestructible Apple charging-cable and charger. The product was developed after the founders sensed it’s urgency.
Sanjeev Mehta said, “The Apple cable used to break near the charging end (near the connectors). People used to make do, by taping over it. So we launched a tough, braided cable, with a life cycle of 10,000 bends”. Some of the key insights over the past three years have been that people are increasingly looking for sports and fall-proof headphones, and that boAt’s products were getting boring. The start-up, therefore, launched fall-proof headphones and introduced interesting colors for their products.
2.Portrayal as a lifestyle brand
The company portrays itself as a lifestyle brand rather than calling a consumer electronics brand.
“We have tried to change the consumer mindset. We don’t sell our products as electronics only. We sell them as lifestyle accessories. We are trying to portray that our products can be a part of your everyday fashion.”
– Aman Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, boAt
This strategy was on display at the 2019 Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai where boAt products were the only accessories sported by the models when they walked down the ramp for one of the designers.
3.Continuously expanding catalog
After launching the indestructible Apple charging-cable and charger, the second product they brought was an audio range, which included earphones. The company used critical insight on consumers to decide that Indians love bass. Their first earphones were called BassHeads.
The organized earphones market was estimated to be between 30 billion to 40 billion, and it was growing at 20-30% annually. In 2018, boAt launched speakers and, in 2019, soundbars and home-audio systems. The soundbar is priced at 9,000 and it sells 30 to 40 units a day; its sales were expected to hit 200 million to 300 million in 2019.
boAt lifestyles are reckoned as millennials’ brands. The company provides stylish and affordable products that attract the youth. Also, the brand ambassadors are all young faces. Much of the buzz boAt has picked up can be attributed to its brand ambassadors who represent India’s most-followed passions (and obsessions) – Bollywood and cricket. The company even develops products specifically for young people. For instance, Sports Earphones and Bluetooth Speakers have caught the fancy of India’s increasingly fitness-focussed millennials. Consumers pick and choose accessories that fit in their workouts, trails, hikes, basically their lifestyle.
The company has stuck to online modes to market their products. The brand has stayed away from conventional media such as TV and print. They have mostly run their campaigns on Facebook and other social media networks. One of the founders cited the reason being millennials mostly online. Pankaj Mirchandani, managing partner at Rhythm Corner Alaknanda (RCA), a marketer and distributor of electronics in India, says, “What has worked for boAt is the community of fans they have built online, which is quite commendable”. There is now an online community of boAtheads with around 80,000 members at present. The company also uses Celebs word-of-mouth as their marketing strategy.
“Our product is excellent and coupled with outstanding marketing, that is what is the secret to our success,”
– Aman Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, boAt