In a country that is developing and has been a hub of startups in terms of software products and services we see very few product startups. The Indian market has been fertile grounds for launching and sustaining the start ups in the country.
The primary reason for this is improved and easy access to capital, massive domestic growth and mentors and incubators. India witnessed a massive growth in terms of software industry , but the hardware segment is struggling and finding it difficult to sustain and grow.
Numerous startups in India have established themselves and we are seeing a more growing demand, but the hardware segment is yet to meet this success and be able to fully capitalize the opportunities.
India is changing dynamic and a technology driven landscape. Now we are seeing a shift towards enabling and encouraging more and more hardware companies and startups. With the focus on now being independent, we will see more of hardware startups and companies come in the forefront.
Today government initiatives such as Design In India, Make in India and Startup India are investing in the startup culture, and now we are seeing a slow shift towards the hardware startup segment in India.
Challenges in the hardware startup sector
Hardware companies have been fighting an uphill battle and some of the reasons for that are:
Hardware startups require more funding, longer time to break even and see a return on the investment. It involves large capital requirements as you have to build, develop and produce the product from scratch and this can be intimidating for investors.
As they see quicker and more returns in other businesses than in hardware startups, investors gravitate less towards this segment. Having a well planned and strategized business plan will go a long way in alleviating the fears of investors.
Design and prototype
Today with consumers becoming extremely intelligent, products need to be able to catch their attention. There must be a well-defined structure and method to do this. Hardware companies must investigate multiple line and channels to design and produce the product.
Even then there will be outside variables and factors that you cannot control and will impact the design. Hardware companies need to be prepared to invest capital, time, and resources to bring this to fruition.
Building and developing a well-organized supply chain network
Today all startups are customer centric and focused on their products. For hardware companies, to manufacture their products, need a well-oiled and efficient and streamlined supply chain network. This is not going to happen overnight they will face many challenges.
Negotiations, due diligence, and the back and forth with suppliers takes a lot of time and capital investment. While software can tweak and test the product before launching, the hardware companies do not work as such.
Once all components are decided they go into manufacturing, thus all quality checks and systems must be in place to ensure smooth production.
Product quality is always an issue in hardware startups, as not enough resources are available in terms of raw materials, or the right machinery or a lack of proper supply chain network. All these factors combined effect the quality of the product.
They might not access to adequate suppliers to smaller value of the orders or they do not have the expertise to judge the quality and this may lead to lower product quality. It also takes a lot of time and effort to connect with suppliers and vendors as they would prefer to connect with customer who place bulk orders.
Companies are now moving towards being customer focused. To understand their customer better companies, focus on understanding their target audience better. To deliver the product, the hardware companies need to develop products that serve the needs of their customers.
As producing prototypes can be an expensive process, therefore understanding customer needs and is imperative to being able to get the prototypes right. This requires a thorough and in-depth research, to curate products to suit the customers they have identified.
Lack of expertise
Usually hardware startups in India, find it difficult to access skilled and experience work force and labor. This tends to complicate matters as they are already finding other challenges to come to terms with. Added on to this skilled labor is hard to come and by and retaining them.
Strategies to overcome these challenges
Hardware companies involve a lot of investment in terms of capital. They need to invest in the right machinery and tools to produce the product. As they do not want this capital to be limited, they usually produce multiple products at time.
Now the companies are seeing a shift and we see them focusing on producing a single product and delivering quality products. In order to do that they focus on the following:
- Develop a strong branding strategy to ensure customers know what your store specializes
- Identify the type of hardware you want to sell.
- Research your competition to see what they are offering.
- Create a niche market by offering unique products or services
Catering to specific audience
Understanding what your customer needs and delivering that product is what will give you the added advantage that you need. Instead of focusing on just products. focus on customers and deliver them that. Build a brand loyalty and reap the benefits
- Provide educational materials or workshops that teach them how to use the products you sell.
- Partner with other businesses that cater to this audience.in.
- Research what types of products they are interested in.
- Develop marketing materials that specifically target this audience.
Marketing, advertising, and branding
When it comes to the marketing and advertising strategy, hardware companies need to focus on this aspect better. Today you need to build you brand, market and advertise it well if you want to you succeed.
Social media has taken the world by storm and using this platform to build your brand can prove to be very lucrative in the long term for your business. This is an inexpensive way to reach out to wider audience. Some of the strategies for this includes
- Develop relationships with local businesses and promote each other’s products and services.
- Sponsor local events or charities
- Develop a website and online store
- Run online or print ads in local newspapers or magazines.
- Participate in online directories and classifieds websites
- Give away free samples of your products
- Hold product demonstrations
- Offer coupons and discounts to customers
Industry trends and being updated
Technology is at the center of all innovations and it changes the way we function and how business operates. Staying updated on the latest trends on machine learning to tools used for product innovation to artificial intelligence and its application in your business.
Staying up to date with these trends will help you make better plans and strategies to incorporate these trends in your business practices to achieve better results. This will also help you serve your customers better.
An up-and-coming future
Technology and accessibility to data and funds has been a game changer in the way business’ function and operate. Diminishing geographical boundaries and digitalization has led to an increased awareness of what the consumer wants. Innovation and originality another key to successful businesses.
Hardware sector that was previously struggling is now slowly finding its footing and growing. In the past of the most time consuming and costly stages was product development.
Constant changes and delayed production led to investors losing confidence and businesses losing on funding. Today with the advent of 3D print technology all this has changed. Today hardware businesses can use this technology and manufacture products faster.
Another added advantage for hardware sector is the streamlining of logistics and supply chain network. They can use the technology available today to make this process more efficient and effective. The streamlining of this process has led to a great many positive outcomes and benefits.
Not only do you cut down on costs , better planning and strategizing can be done , operation efficiency can be reached and products can be delivered to the customer on time .
Artificial intelligence is another outcome that is working in the benefit of the hardware companies. It has sped up the process of extensive research and development functionalities, has improved productivity and led to lower operating costs as well.
Accenture’s research indicates that by 2035, AI will have added approximately $3.7 trillion to the manufacturing sector.
The hardware companies and industry still have a long way to go, but with the recent developments and changes seen, it looks like they are on the right path.
Taking advantage of the recent automation, digitization and other software driven technologies has given the segment a much need boost. They have a long road ahead, but they are definitely on the right path.
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