Talk less, listen more. Those are words audiophiles live by. The audio industry is booming but, at the same time, in electronic wonderland it’s difficult for a new brand to make the right vibes. Unless, of course, the people behind it are audiophiles, have good knowledge of how the market functions and are focussed on building a business obsessed with fidelity. That’s what MULO Technologies is doing and from our very own backyard. Archisman Chatterjee and Aniket Ghosh Choudhury are two former Flipkart senior managers who bonded over music to the point they were confident of quitting their jobs and starting a gig of their own. Both in their early 30s, Archisman is Calcutta born and bred while Aniket hails from Jamshedpur. What makes MULO (inspired by the words ‘music lovers’) products impressive? The knowledge and passion of the two young founders. Here’s more from the MULO men.
Being a new player, the idea is to make sound magic while ensuring that the speakers are competitively priced. What are the components/areas you are focussing on?
Archisman Chatterjee: Having spent a good amount of time at Flipkart in the audio category, we got to understand the key aspects which make some legacy brands stand out from the crowd. This primarily comprises signature sound, quality, design of the product and customer experience. Also, with the help of customer data, we developed and launched different kinds of audio products in an objectified manner. We also understood the major areas which affect customer experience and combined them with best practices of international audio brands while developing the range of products for MULO. Our current portfolio includes two wired earphones with different sound signatures, wireless neckband, wireless sports headphone and 2.1 channel soundbar.
Apart from the heavy bass-sounding wired earphone, all our products have been designed to produce flat response listening experience to ensure the universality of audio experience. For our heavy bass earphone, we have manipulated the low- and mid-frequencies for our listeners to experience the beats more clearly than the other music elements. In case of our wireless neckband, we have also worked on the eartips design and psycho-acoustical measures by attenuating environmental noise to give pure signal in terms of sound frequencies at different spectrum, thus providing the required noise isolation.
In the case of entry-level wired earphones, we identified the top quality and reliability problems experienced by customers such as one of the eartips stop working or the earphone cable wire is too weak to withstand wear and tear over time or the 3.5mm aux jack becomes bent or loose during prolonged usage. We focused on the root causes of these problems and with the support of factories which are audio specialists and have more than 15 years of contract manufacturing for OEMs, we worked on procuring high-quality speaker drivers, strong and durable cable wires and long-lasting L-shaped aux jack and also ensured strict quality norms in the assembly processes of production line. The same thought process was applied in the case of development of more complex products such as wireless earphones/headphones and 2.1 channel soundbar, which additionally involved us in getting the hardware design right for the PCBA, battery and Bluetooth chipset to function properly with the audio components.
Our ability and desire to understand the customer problems helped us to focus our costs only on these problem areas and avoid unnecessary spending.
Both of you have worked at Flipkart. What are some of the lessons you have learnt there that can be employed in your new business?
Aniket Ghosh Choudhury: Flipkart has a culture of infusing entrepreneurial spirit and inculcating the courage to believe in yourself, work on scalable ideas and start your own venture. We also got the opportunity to work closely with great leaders and pioneers of the industry from whom we tried to learn disruptive thinking and the best practices to be followed. Working in the audio category also gave us insights into how brands operate, customer’s audio tastes and preferences and quality expected at various price points. The objectified ratings and reviews on the platform allowed us to make data-driven decisions on the exact needs of the customers.
What prompted you to start MULO? Is there something missing in the market that your company addresses?
Archisman: Our brand name, MULO, is derived from the words “music lovers” and our vision is to create an audio ecosystem for the Indian audience. We want to be present at every touchpoint where music is experienced and audio products in the affordable segment is our first step in this direction.
During our experience in Flipkart, we came across a lot of brands operating in the online segment. We noticed that in case of international brands, with the advantage of longer experience with technology and branding, their basic products such as earphones and speakers were priced higher than usual. Indian customers seek value for money and we wanted to provide affordable audio products tuned to Indian ears. We were also surprised to see some of these international brands struggle while operating in the online segment, thus boosting our morale to develop our own brand with higher focus on the Indian market.
Aniket: We decided to start MULO to address the gaps experienced by customers with most available brands by getting the basics of quality, design, price and experience right while developing our first generation of products. We also felt that even at entry level, an audio product can be tailored to cater to different segments of customers based on their preferences of usage and function in different scenarios. For example, apart from keeping the quality intact for wired earphones, we provided different sound signatures for each kind to address the different music tastes of Indian audiences. Hence, the sound signature of our model Basszuka 300 has overpowering low frequencies to deliver a super heavy bass sound for customers who prefer to listen to music with heavy beats usually found in genres such as hip-hop, Punjabi, Bollywood and south Indian dance music.
Being a Calcutta brand, is it difficult to reach out to all parts of India? Are you doing any R&D to come up with audio solutions?
Archisman: We are very proud of our roots and take pride in being a Calcutta-based company. For an audio brand like us, this city has many advantages like rich culture of music, appreciation for good sound and the proximity to the port, which helps us in optimising our supply chain operations. At Flipkart, we understood that the online customers prefer to receive the ordered product within two days and by leveraging the established pan-India supply chain network of e-commerce platforms, we are able to reach most parts of the country within the required time frame. We have received orders from all parts of the country and we were pleasantly surprised when one of our first few orders was from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. As far as R&D is concerned, we can assure that we are working on some innovative products, which we plan to launch by mid-2020.
Tips to buy an audio system
Before recommending any audio system to someone, it’s very important to understand the world of the target customers and the possible home audio scenarios expected in their lives. Most of these audio scenarios require wireless support apart from wired input options.
Also, the Indian user expects the product to have enough bass to experience the beats, which are usually present in majority of songs liked by Indian ears. In case of home audio system, a woofer is a must-have for that purpose. Also as people prefer to possess a 2.1 or 4.1 channel speaker but wish to stay away from the hassles of wires, a soundbar becomes a better option as it occupies lesser space with minimal wires and still provide the required surround-sound experience.
To provide sufficient power, it’s ideal for an audio system to have AC power supply as an alternate to battery-powered option which has limited life span. The price of the product should be secondary reason for purchase with high quality audio output being primary.
As portable battery-operated speakers at an entry-level price have constraints which lead to a trade off between loudness and bass, we are currently working on the development of an outdoor and portable Bluetooth speaker to arrive at an optimal range of sound output, wattage and weight.