DeviceNext had the exclusive opportunity to interview Vikas Jain, Co-Founder of World of PLAY, a prominent player in the smart wearables market. With a strong engineering background and a deep passion for technology, Vikas co-founded World of PLAY in 2019 with the objective of providing users with an enriching experience that incorporates cutting-edge technological advancements. In this interview, Vikas discusses the brand’s inception and notable achievements, explores the latest trends in the smart wearables market, sheds light on industry challenges, and highlights World of PLAY’s commitment to innovation and consumer-centric offerings. Additionally, Vikas imparts valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to enter the thriving smart wearables and accessories market and emphasizes the importance of collaborations with industry bodies and government agencies to foster growth and success.
Here’s an excerpt from the interaction:
Can you provide us with an overview of your background and share how the idea of co-founding World of PLAY came about?
My name is Vikas Jain, and I completed my engineering in Delhi, India in 1996. Following that, I had the opportunity to work at Daewoo Motors India before joining GE Transportation Systems in Pennsylvania, USA as a Coop student. During my time at GE, I received emeritus sponsorship to pursue my Masters in engineering at Gannon University in Pennsylvania. Together with Sandeep, in the year 2019, understanding the fast-penetrating wireless internet in the country, we both decided to launch AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things) setup PLAY. The idea is to provide an enriching user experience which uses the best of the technological enhancements to bring forth a never before internet consumption and connectivity experience for the Indian consumers. I personally love playing with (technology) gadgets, they always mesmerize me. And PLAY is a testimony of this passion. In today’s digital-first world, machines are more connected than ever, at PLAY, we endeavor to build a robust sync between the device and the consumer experience, backed by our strong R&D investments and understanding of the Indian consumer’s lifestyle.
How has World of PLAY performed in the past financial year, and what notable achievements has the brand attained?
FY22 has been the first full year of operations after the pandemic disruption. We have been able to scale ourselves very well and reach out to more than 50,000 retail outlets in the offline universe. We have also managed to register 100% revenue growth this year which should take us to a range of INR 80-100 crores by the end of FY. Our internal teams and partner teams have also registered significant growth on the back of the trust shown by channel partners and Indian consumers.
What are some of the emerging trends in the smart wearables market, and how do you foresee the industry evolving in the coming years?
Some emerging trends that are seeing massive adoption across brands include new-age features like better crisper displays, Always on Display, Stress Monitoring, tracking Women Menstrual Cycle and Sleep Monitoring, among others. With rapid tech evolution, especially in the wake of 5G, we are bound to see upgrades in these segments along with more innovations in the coming years.
What are the current challenges and limitations faced by the smart wearables industry, and how is World of PLAY addressing them?
With technological advancements, the device form factors are rapidly changing. From smart bands, the form factor for wearables has evolved to a fitness monitoring smartwatch. This is bound to give space to health monitoring smartwatches wherein the sensors will start having medical grade accuracy and will display results which are not algorithmic but actual sensor data. The smart wearable has enjoyed massive consumer adoption and this same habit should lead to massive adoption of health monitoring smart devices as well. Fashion and utility have been two biggest adoption drivers for the wearable category in India. At PLAY Design Labs, the teams constantly work upon the latest technological advancements in the world of processor and sensors and try and adopt the same to bring forth a fashionable, relevant device form factor.
In such a competitive market segment, how does World of PLAY ensure it stays ahead of the curve and offers cutting-edge technology and experiences to its consumers?
At PLAY, fashion and innovation have always been at the forefront of our vision and operations. On top of this, we have also invested in robust R&D to devise and deliver world-class products while also ensuring they are highly affordable. We try and relate to the youth and Gen Z and visualize the products from their eyes and aspirations. Till now, we have been able to stay ahead of the technology curve and bring forth devices that are technologically latest and styled in line with the latest fashion trends. We have also believed in playing with youthful colors and have been able to introduce some new passionate colors like Teal and Marsella to the Indian consumer.
Drawing from your experience, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the lucrative smart wearables and accessories market?
One piece of advice I would like to share with every budding entrepreneur is to be agile. This is something that the pandemic has taught me, and I am sure many of us would agree. The smart wearable market is rapidly evolving, and to be a leader, you must keep experimenting with new tools and technologies to figure out the best solution for your target audience in sync with their changing needs and demands. Lastly, keep innovating and strengthening your product and service portfolio to keep your customers delighted by providing them with the best products powered by the latest technologies.
How do you see the role of collaborations with industry bodies and government agencies in the smart wearables industry, and how does World of PLAY leverage these relationships for growth and success?
India is a massively populous country. Reach and relevance are essentially important for a brand to target as you script your future evolution. The government has made reasonable policy decisions and ushered in a wave of manufacturing in the country. This is bound to be followed by sizeable investments in the area of R&D as well and sooner than later, India as a country will start boosting about a robust component ecosystem. Working in tandem, the government and industry are chasing this dream together.
Finally, could you share any insights into the new product lines and offerings that World of PLAY plans to introduce to expand further in the market?
In terms of new consumer verticals, we plan to penetrate into Home Entertainment and Personal Security Monitoring categories in the ensuing year. With the rapid advancement in AIoT category as well expectedly rapid penetration of 5G services in India, these are very exciting times for the AIoT category and consumers can expect some very enriching and innovative form factors to be launched in the next 12-months. Having said that, we will continue to deepen our consumer connect in the wearable and hearable categories with more innovative and fashionable devices.