While bigger brands were battling thin margins and low refresh rates, two IIT whiz kids unlock new strategies for selling ceiling fans!
When you think of buying a fan, your default brand of choice is unlikely to be a Gorilla fan from Atomberg Technologies. Even as existing fan players compete to retain their traditional customers, they are being challenged by startups who explore new and innovative ways to reach consumers in a crowded market.
Atomberg Technologies, an award winning startup launched by IIT-Bombay alumni, Manoj Meena and Sibabrata Das in 2012, decided after three years, to concentrate their energies on the ceiling fan market. They created an innovative distribution channel for their flagship fans starting in Mumbai.
These fans, which go by the name “Gorilla Fans” are based on the state-of-the-art Brushless DC technology that is more energy efficient than most five-star rated ceiling fans available in the market. They claim to consume just 28 watts of energy, even when operated at their highest speed, about 1/3rd the consumption of other fans.
Subsidised prices strategy
The unique distribution channel involves a tie-up with Tata Power to provide the Gorilla Fans to the customers in Mumbai and Delhi at a subsidized price under the Demand-Side Management (DSM) scheme. Tata Power has initiated many programmes to promote energy efficiency at consumer premises and this scheme is approved by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). The main objective of this programme is to reduce energy consumption by providing energy-efficient products to people at subsidized rates.
While other, much bigger brands were grappling with advertising and outreach strategies, battling thin margins, a bunch of college whiz kids took the game to a new level by collaborating with the big daddies of power. Within six months of their humble beginning, sales quickly reached 1,000 fans per month and soon 30,000 fans per month.
The Gorilla Fans are one of the top rated and reviewed products on e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart. Over a period of three years, the company has more than 2.5 lakh customers in India. Even though, at around Rs 3000 to 4000 (before subsidy) their flagshop product is pricier than many competitors, the attraction for buyers is reduced cost of running the fans – just 40 per cent of what ceiling fans generally cost by way of electric bills. The range has now extended beyond ceiling fans to pedestal and wall mounted fans.
Manufacturing in Navi Mumbai
The company has an integrated manufacturing facility at Navi Mumbai with a capacity of 50,000 fans per month and over 300 service centres across India. All Gorilla fans are BEE 5 star rated and claim to save up to Rs 1500-2000 per household per year in energy bills. The company has won an award for ‘Global CleanTech Innovation Programme’ in Energy Efficiency category organised by ‘United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’ (UNIDO). In 2018, the founder duo made it to Forbes “30 under 30” list of Indian innovators.
Besides the fact that consumers get these fans at almost half the cost, there are factors such as home delivery of products, and a three year no-questions asked warranty. With similar tie-ups with Reliance Energy, Atomberg Technologies could well be a management lesson in unlocking growth by creating a unique USP and finding a right-fit partner.
This story is written by Anand Parthasarathy. His rich experience, reporting ACE (Appliances and Consumer Electronics) stories encompasses working 15 years with The Hindu as its IT Consulting Editor. He is a qualified instrumentation systems engineer who has worked for 20 years as a scientist on numerous defence R&D projects, and as a project manager for surface-to-air missiles at DRDO.