After making a mark in hearables mkt, Mivi bets big on wearables

Midhula Devabhaktuni, Co-founder & CMO, Mivi

Midhula Devabhaktuni, Co-founder & CMO, Mivi

Within six years of the inception, India’s homegrown electronics company Mivi stood as one among the leading TWS (true wireless stereo earbuds) brands in India with 6.7 per cent market share of the TWS industry in the country. The company has recently forayed into the smart wearables category and it also has plans to enter the gaming category.

In an exclusive interview with The Hans India, Mivi Co-founder and CMO Midhula Devabhaktuni tells how the brand aspires to create a difference in the electronic gadgets industry by introducing high-quality ‘Made in India’ products coming from its manufacturing unit at Hyderabad. She plans ten-fold increase in the manufacturing capacity, and to double the employee headcount to 3,000 people by the end of 2023

How was Mivi established as a reputed electronics brand?

Mivi is the brainchild of mine and another co-founder Viswanadh Kandula during one of our trips back from the US. We had noticed that if we wanted to purchase any mobile accessories there were only two options – either to get an international brand that was overpriced in India or an uncertified product with no genuine components.

That was how Mivi was founded in 2016 with a mission of making quality electronics affordable. It’s been six years since and today, our mission is to make superior quality electronics at value pricing in India. We strive to take the electronic gadgets industry to the next level by fulfilling the need for high-quality electronic gadgets at affordable prices in the market.

Our main focus is quality products that we innovate keeping in mind the customer preferences. We believe that ‘No one can promote our product better than a happy customer’ and that statement holds true for us from our consumer. Ours is a one-of-a-kind company specialised in the audio category, from TWS to sound bars, which have gone from a luxury to a necessity for everybody with smartphones.

How is the journey so far as a Hyderabad-based entrepreneur? How WeHub has supported your startup?

So far, the journey has been incredible and everyday is a new learning for me in terms of understanding the hearables industry and product innovation. We also come across various government policies that make it easier for younger and newer entrepreneurs to venture into the industry. Mivi currently has a 1,500+ strong team and is looking to expand its presence PAN India – from tier-1 to tier-4 cities.

We are so happy to be associated with WeHub and looking forward to more great initiatives from them. The incubator has always supported us and it has been the first of its kind and only State-run platform for women entrepreneurs like me to start, scale and achieve global success. Mivi is thankful to it and we appreciate all the support it has been providing us.

What is the market size of hearables in India? What is the market share of Mivi as of now? What is the target ahead?

As per the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT Service, India’s TWS shipments doubled y-o-y in July-September quarter (Q3) of 2022. Among the top 5 TWS brands that accounted for almost 70 per cent of the total shipments, Mivi was in the third position. According to the IDC report, our market share for the TWS industry has grown to 6.7 per cent in Q3 2022 from 0.5 per cent in the same period last year.

We have recently forayed into the smart wearables category. We have unveiled the Model E smartwatch at an introductory price of Rs 1,299. Simultaneously, we are focusing on our current offering whilst working to introduce innovative hearable products within the existing portfolio. In future, we are also looking to launch new products in the gaming category.

Apart from that, Mivi is now focused on expanding its market presence from being predominantly online to establishing a robust offline foothold. This will enable us to get closer to our customers, understand their needs, and offer an impeccable experience. We are planning to partner with some multi-brand mobile stores to strengthen our phygital model of business.

When did the company take the omnichannel path? Do you see offline sales as a bigger opportunity?

As of now, we are still planning on entering the offline market. We think it is necessary that we focus on creating a presence offline as it will help in building brand awareness and better recall for the consumers. We are expecting that 15-20 per cent of our sales come from the offline market next year. We will also be collaborating with various offline retailers PAN India.

What is the current GMV across all platforms? How much has it grown over the past few years? Going forward, what is the projection? Also, throw some light on the company’s annual revenues.

Our current GMV (gross merchandise value) is Rs 25-30 crore a month, which shows the positive response from the consumer base towards our products. Since we entered the market, we have witnessed a 2X increase y-o-y in our revenues. This year, our annual revenue is close to Rs 300 crore and we are only hoping to grow further.

Where is the design and manufacturing unit located? What is the capacity at present? Are you looking to set up more facilities and hire more people anytime soon?

Our research and development (R&D) team works very diligently on customising and innovating new products while keeping track of the ever changing consumer needs. We only create products that are a necessity to the consumers. I am proud to say that today all Mivi’s audio products are designed, engineered and manufactured at our facility in Hyderabad.

We are the first and the only one to do this at such a scale in hearables. Last year, we had 850 employees and now we have a large team of 1,500 people. As we are setting up new leased premises, we will raise the manufacturing capacity ten-fold and double the employment opportunities to over 3,000 people by the end of 2023. We will soon invest in building our own factory, which is in the planning stages.

Almost 80 per cent of our employees are predominantly women. We believe in creating jobs of value and giving opportunities to talented resources that will help them as well as the organisation grow. As we are foraying into other spaces in the market, we require more talent that understands the industry better. As we expand our portfolio, we will be hiring more teams to support and assist us.

Are you planning to expand the operations? What are the fundraising plans of the company in the near future?

We ship our sound bars to Nepal, whose consumer patterns are not very different from India. The products are doing very well in that market. We are looking forward to introducing more products soon. The support we receive from our consumers motivates us to do better and improve. We are doing well as a bootstrapped brand but as we are growing if funding is necessary we might explore that as well.

Are you exporting the products to other countries? Which markets do you prefer to enter over the next couple of years?

Currently, we do export our products to Nepal where our products have received immense love and support. As we keep growing, we plan to create a global impact with our ‘Made-in-India’ products and we will be foraying into the global markets such as Indonesia, UAE and Turkey although India will remain our primary focus.

As a homegrown electronics manufacturer, what are the challenges in this market? Are you expecting any support from the governments?

The government has very helpful policies in place for the ‘Make in India’ initiatives. It has enabled us to become more competitive and we are able to offer the customers products at better pricing with the incentives received. The policies encourage more brands to start manufacturing in India. Pretty soon, Indian brands will not only be manufacturing for domestic needs but for international demand too.

(This is the first interview of WTC Shamshabad- WE Hub Startup Series, a collaborative effort of World Trade Center – Shamshabad and WE Hub, the incubator for women-led startups, to showcase startups founded by women entrepreneurs)

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