The Indian gaming industry is expanding beyond expectations with the rise of avenues through online gaming or e-sports along with an upward curve in equipment manufacturing.
In an interview Sridhar Thirunakara, Founder and Managing Director, Outshiny India talked about India, the gaming ecosystem, equipment manufacturing and more. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about Arctic Fox and its vision, especially for those who are not aware of it.
Arctic Fox was launched in May 2018. When we launched the brand, it was for a younger audience. When I say younger audience, I refer to students. Right from high school students to college and university students, that is our target consumer group.
Our core products are soft luggage, backpacks and other related accessories. During Covid-19, we found out that there were no backpacks that were made for hardcore gamers. Some people are carrying their laptop, their accessories, headphones, everything and there was no specific product there.
In India, the gaming ecosystem is still in the growing process. So in such a scenario, how do you plan on competing with your contemporaries?
It is going to be a difficult fight for sure but there are several things in our favour. If you look at the government, it is slowly restricting many things, many products coming from outside. They’re encouraging MSMEs within India to start making products in the country.
We are newcomers but we need to start somewhere. And one good thing that we have here based out of Bangalore is we have great talent in place. If we never had talent, it would have been more difficult.
One main aspect which will play to our favour is in terms of cost. Since we are making the design, making everything from India, we have an edge over the competition in terms of cost.
How Covid-19 pandemic impact this industry and your venture?
As a business, we were fortunate enough as we started growing more during Covid-19. This whole idea of manufacturing consumer electronic products came to us exactly during the pandemic time and lockdown.
Most gaming products or even IT products are imported from China and other countries. Also, there was a big supply crunch all over the place due to Covid amid the container shortage and the cost of each container was skyrocketing. A few of our existing customers were asking us to evaluate if we could start manufacturing consumer electronic products in India and that is what we did.
Apart from Covid-19 hardships, can you shed light on other hurdles in terms of product manufacturing, etc?
We know the functionality and features and we can track them. We know what the industry is, we know what technology stands there. We know where the challenges are and how to solve them.
Arctic Fox as a brand is completely new, growing from India and within India, we are at an early stage. So it will take some time for us to establish the brand. With the time in our favour where consumers are open to testing our product, we could make the product a good quality product.
India needs value for their money. We understand our customers and we need to make a product that gives that value to the customers in this way.
Since you are part of the consumer tech industry and the gaming industry. How would you define both sectors?
Nowadays consumers have a wide variety of options and have access to information online or on social media, where they can check about the product and people’s feedback. At the same time, this is also helping us to reach consumers directly.
These days, people don’t need to spend that much yet you can reach consumers through digital marketing in a similar way. But oe thing, what we need to make sure is we make great products at great prices.
If you look at just taking a labour cost in China, in a factory, there are many labourers right where the workers were there. So the worker costs in China are five to six times more than in India.
At present, we can do the same product here at a much lower cost, all we need to do is use the advantage of digital marketing. This is a nice period because we can get a lot of data points from a customer.
It has become much easier for us to interact with consumers directly and get lots of inputs, we get inputs everywhere. Our strategy is to go with the right costing to the customer, which means let’s go with the costing which you would have been able to achieve when you’re doing the mass production you start going to the market at the same time to get consumer feedback.
Once the feedback is positive, then you go for mass production. That is the strategy. And again, coming back to accessibility now’s a good time. We can get a lot of input from consumers. We don’t need to spend a fortune making advertisements and then realise down the line after six months that it was not the right decision.