Until 2009, Sridhar Thirunakaratechnical vendor, which sells computers, laptops, and other computer accessories at Amazing (now Outshiny India Pvt Ltd)—a 100 sq ft shop on New BEL Road Bengaluru.
With plans to become an entrepreneur, Sridhar quit his job and started a small business. At that time, little did he know that in later years he would play a strong role in contributing to the Make in India initiative.
Today, Outshiny, through its lifestyle brand – Arctic Fox – serves customers in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) domains with keyboards, computer mouse, gaming mouse, duffles, trolleys, etc.
The homegrown company is an OEM/ODM of laptop bags for major tech companies including HP, Lenovo and Acer. It manufactures its products from four units located across Bengaluru.
So what motivated Sridhar to build this Rs 165-crore revenue company from scratch?
From a computer store to a lifestyle brand
In 2010, Sridhar, then 30 years old, was running his computer store, Outshiny, where he sold products from brands like Acer. He had acquired technical knowledge on the job; so it was easy to set up his own business. However, he was not satisfied with the laptop bags he was offering to customers.
“This is not the case in my store alone. I saw that the quality and design could be better, and I started researching. Back then, most of these accessories came from China, and competition in a similar price range was fierce. I saw a good opportunity, and not many companies were making these bags completely in-house. So, I took that opportunity,” says Sridhar SMBS story.
A year later, Sridhar started making laptop bags and operated the shop at the same time till 2012. However, when he started getting good responses for the bags, he closed the shop and continued his full-time manufacturing business.
Sridhar reached out to Acer as he was already dealing with the company’s products. However, such large companies have dedicated their procurement system, and it would take months to get approval.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government, which was distributing laptops to students free of cost at the time, wanted customized bags that would include the government logo and other details.
“The government gave the contract to Acer. However, because the notice was short, it would take months to make and ship the bags from China for such a custom. As we (Acer) have already done, they did a pilot project with us and gave us an order for 5,000 units of these bags,” says Sridhar, Founder and Managing Director, Outshiny.
“It was a challenge, but I was just waiting for one chance to show my work, and this is it. Within 30 days, we fulfilled the order, and since then, we’ve been growing.”
Contributing to Atmanirbhar Bharat
Soon after, the company bagged Lenovo and HP as clients. Over the next five to six years, Sridhar established four more manufacturing units, sourcing raw materials locally and diversifying the product line through laptop sleeves, delivery bags, school bags, etc.
In 2018, when India was experiencing a boom in e-commerce, Sridhar decided to start a direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform, Arctic Fox, to serve customers with its wide range of offerings. Today, the brand has a customer base of four lakh and sees a repeat rate of around 40% on the website. Arctic Fox products are also available on Amazon, Flipkart, Croma, etc.
Arctic Fox found many opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chains were disrupted. At the same time, the Make in India movement also gained momentum, which boosted Outshiny’s business.
In fact, due to the ban on Chinese products Sridhar managed to make in-house keyboards, computer mice and gaming mice.
From 2022, Sridhar says Outshiny will be a major manufacturer of laptop bags for computer companies, occupying nearly 70% share in the Indian market. “Now, companies have opened their eyes and want Indian companies to make products for them,” he says.
The company has also cleared HP audits to sell on the global market and may soon service HP in other countries.
The market situation and the way forward
Currently, Sridhar is planning to start another manufacturing line on Hosur Road, Bengaluru. When asked how he stays relevant amid the huge competition, Sridhar says that the keyboard and mouse market is an established one, and the major competition comes from China.
“New entries are fewer. The big challenge is to compete with Chinese companies – organized and unorganized. This is the space where we are investing for long-term gains,” he says.
According to a Grandview research report, the global laptop accessories market size was valued at $35.4 billion in 2020; it is expected to expand at a CAGR of 6.3% between 2021 and 2028.
The growing demand for e-sports and adoption of process automation in industries is the main reason for the demand for laptop accessories.
Sridhar has the advantage of being the first motorist in India. In the coming months, the company has a pipeline of launches – smart watches, cameras, and audio accessories including headphones and earphones.
“With effect from 2022, we have a technology transfer from DRDO to manufacture two products at present – ergonomic backpacks for defense purposes and a set of women’s body protectors used by reserve police forces. This technology transfer will be valid for 10 years,” says Sridhar.
The company is also looking closely at electric vehicles. Sridhar has diversified into manufacturing the electric scooter Moon E-Kick Scooter, which was launched four months ago as a pilot. “We have sold around 50 units and we are trying to understand the market to develop strategies,” he says.