The music industry is growing across all geographies and in an age of free data, we consume it more and more. Now what if we tell you that an Indian startup is competing and surpassing the likes of Skullcandy and Sennheiser at their game would you believe that?
Mr. Chiraag Kapil, Co-founder and Head of Product Design along with his co-founder Avinash Bansal did a research project in University of Illinois, Urbana Champagne. Chirag says this project gave him a core understanding of music as an element of how it interacts with a person.
In this edition of Startup Sunday, we will be talking to one of the founders of ‘Leaf’ who along with his IIT Delhi and DTU friends have decided to go on a rebellion against the so-called‘Big Brands’.
The Entrepreneurship Cell was fortunate enough to interact with Mr. Chiraag Kapil. What follows is the conversation we had with him.
Q. How did you start your entrepreneurship journey, what motivated you to come into entrepreneurship?
A. The teachings in Engineering was more of rote learning and illogical application for no reason when the technology has already moved so forward. So I was doing a lot of my own stuff with my friends and partners who ultimately became my partners. The core dissatisfaction of not being able to create a change was the main reason why I started to venture more into my initiatives whether it is women safety or starting a new venture like leaf studios and getting into audio and sell in pan India.
Q.What is leaf studios all about?
A. There are 2 parts to the leaf group of companies one is leaf wearables and the other is leaf studios. Leaf studios is all about music, we create our own headphones, earphones, speakers and sell all across the globe. All our products are self-designed, they are actually for the everyday music user who wants to zone in, concentrate, focus on his task and get the job done. They are for people like you and me, everyday office goers, college students and it has got the youthful connect, the vibe and that is what we try to get into our products. The other part, leaf wearables which is already still running and recently won the X Prize a million dollar award and recognition.
Q.Could you share more about X Prize?
A. The prize was for safety company leaf Wearables in which we safeguard people all across the globe. We create consumer electronics in our safety platform for the alert responders who reach you in the need of the hour. The prize was presented by billionaire Naveen Jain and XPrize foundation which has Elon Musk & Larry Page as its Board of Directors. We were trying to make the world a safer place.
Q.How are Leaf Audio products different?
A. All leaf devices are designed in India, extremely premium devices at extremely affordable prices. Our headphones Leaf Beast has 30hrs battery life whereas competition has 8-10hrs, it is metallic in build, giving it a premium look. Also, Leaf Bolt has a leather wire.
Q.What are the challenges the audio industry is facing now?
A. Lack of audio quality, people don’t know how to distinguish between a bad sounding device and a good sounding device. Because every ear hears differently. What might be a good bass for you is not more bass for me. This subjectivity in terms of the quality of the earphones is very problematic. For a company, it’s very difficult to understand its own consumers’ tastes and preferences and then customize their devices. This is where we want our Leaf Studios to act as a bridge and solve the challenge
Q.What was your funding Process?
A. Most of the time we were self-funded because we didn’t want to lose our equity just for nothing. Equity is the value of a company. As our company grew we needed more funds. It is important to realize why do we need more funds. The core reason is for expansion and scale. Fortunate enough, we always funded these needs from our pockets as we didn’t want to dilute our company just for this reason.
Q.What would you suggest to our budding entrepreneurs?
A. Entrepreneurship cannot be learned in a classroom. What I really believe for the people who want to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, the only way to take the plunge is just to take it. Create a proper plan, figure out the right market, figure out the customer who will pay you for your product and it should be fit with the market what you call ‘product-market fit’. Also, one suggestion is to really focus on your unit costing, how much money you make per product because the end result is to create an impact and you cannot do that if you are not making money.
With a vision to change the music and audio industry, Leaf Studios are on their way to design better accessories for the young generation who buy products keeping ‘value for money’ in mind. With intense competition all around, Leaf products look to give you the best experience possible at an affordable price. With much promise and desire to grow, it will be interesting to see as to how this venture grows in the coming future.