When you think of Japan, what comes to your mind immediately? A tech powerhouse, leader in electronics, et al. Similarly, when you think of Italy, what comes to your mind immediately?
When you think of Japan, what comes to your mind immediately? A tech powerhouse, leader in electronics, et al. Similarly, when you think of Italy, what comes to your mind immediately? A fashion hotspot, designer labels and top brands. But when it comes to India – what do you think of? What is that you identify India with, something for which India stands head and shoulders above the rest? Now, an answer to that does not come to mind easily. But Devita Saraf, CEO & design head of Vu TV, is hoping that will change soon.
“India could be the hub for product innovation and design. We have the human resources, the innovative minds and the technology for that,” says Saraf, who believes that her Vu range of luxury televisions has been able to take on established brands such as Sony and Samsung on the basis of its superior design and product innovation. However, the Vu televisions continue to be made in China. “My televisions are made in China although the research and design is done in India because we still do not have that level of manufacturing in India. For Make in India to be a reality, we need to be at the forefront of technology. But till now we have been the manufacturing backyard for the world.”
Saraf says it would require an investment of $3 bn to build the kind of fab needed for manufacturing these televisions in India. So focusing on product and design innovation is a better strategy for Indian companies. Vu, itself, has a new product development (NPD) hub in Mumbai with a 350-member R&D team along with a second hub in California. This year, the Mumbai NPD hub has developed the Pop Smart TV, which supports PC casting from Windows and Mac Book. At a starting price of Rs 22,000 for a 32” set, the Pop Smart TV enables viewers to share pictures, video, music on TC from an Android or iOS mobile. Again, its Office Smart TV comes with in-built computer and Windows OS with the plug-and-play solution offering employee privacy, as the PC does not have to be connected to the TV for display.
“The remote for the Office Smart TV has a keyboard on the reverse. It is these small but smart innovations that make the Vu brand stand out,” points out Saraf.
From sales worth Rs 47 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 485 crore in 2016-17 and eyeing Rs 1,000 cr in the current financial year, Vu has come a long way. Along with its focus on design and product innovation, Vu has also strategically used the online platform to establish itself in the competitive Indian market. It has been associated with Flipkart for three years now and the exclusive tie-up has yielded big dividends that translate into much more than the number of units sold. “Customer feedback online tells us whether they are satisfied with our product and what innovations they are looking forward to. The millions of data points we collect through the online platform gives us the clarity on what we should do next,” she says.
It also has four flagship stores, even as the Vu brand is available in 1600 multi-brand outlets across the country.
Saraf is the daughter of Rajkumar Saraf (owner and chairman of Zenith Computers). She started her entrepreneurial journey in 2006 with Vu and the aim to change the way luxury viewing was perceived in the television segment. “I started the brand with an idea to enter the high-end electronic space, because most existing Indian brands are in the budget segment,” says Saraf.