Pankaj Garg, Founder & CEO of design-led lifestyle and technology accessories brand DailyObjects, on dotcom learning, the rise of e-commerce and the future-proof beauty of their name
A nondescript building in the Information Technology Park in Gurugram, Haryana, is home to one of India’s hottest design and accessories startups. Only a hugely missable, generic nameplate-sized black-on-white ‘DailyObjects’ sign on the wall of the building confirms this. The ground floor of this 50,000 sq ft space is also minimalist and utilitarian and is a large open office with a row of long wooden tables and chairs, a pair of glass cabins with large windows along the sides and a corner with a coffee table. vending machine and snacks.
This seems unexpected for a design startup targeting an urban clientele looking for sleek, yet imaginatively crafted personal accessories for functional, everyday needs: laptop sleeves and phone cases, and, lately, in keeping with the times, cable managers and wireless chargers. for multiple gadgets, smartwatch straps and desk mats that accommodate gadgets with personal stationery in compact and cool ways.
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The company says it has not only remained profitable, but has also doubled in size and revenue ₹85 crore from FY22 to FY23. In the months that follow, it says it will make the crossing ₹130 crore gross for FY24.
“Yes, I don’t like filling the walls with cheerful or motivational junk,” says Pankaj Garg, the founder and CEO. His cabin is also consistent with minimalism: there is only a thin whiteboard by the window, a Macbook on a desk pad on the table. I’m intrigued by the only visible clutter: white, molded and 3D-printed mock-ups of products in progress lining the windowsill. Garg, 42, wearing a dark blue linen shirt with a mandarin collar and boxy dark blue jeans with cuffs at the ankle, notices me looking and jumps up: “Come, I’ll show you around,” he says. “They now also have to print phone cases.”
The tour lasts about 25 minutes: There are karigars (craftsmen) that sew and stamp, quality control teams and order packing areas, display experiments, photo shoots and phone case printers. Garg tells me they can print 2,000 boxes every day (about 60,000 per month), and as we walk past rooms where supplies are stacked to the brim, he adds that they have increased from just 15 to 20 boxes. karigars in 2020 to 400 in-house and now more than 1,000 on a project basis. In addition, DailyObjects employs 160 employees and 400 others on contract.
This space is a big step up from the 6,000-square-foot facility in Sultanpur, Delhi, where DailyObjects operated three years ago. Quick thinking during a dip in property prices during Covid-19 made this possible: “All companies were cutting costs then… we were so confident that we decided to move without any capital,” says Garg, adding that DailyObjects has never fired any employees.
Back in his hut, Garg recalls his upbringing in Mubarikpur, Alwar district of Rajasthan. He talks about how he and his siblings, Sanjay Garg of the Raw Mango label, and Prerna Garg, a social entrepreneur, were given free rein by their parents, who had a “khaad beej ki dukaan (fertilizer, seed shop)”, to follow their purpose and passions. The siblings went to government school there and “we were very ambitious from childhood,” he says. The trio always liked to wear good clothes and had an eye for design and color, he recalls. For example, Sanjay founded a luxury handloom brand; Garg has also always loved buying good things – incidentally, this is how his foray into entrepreneurship began.
But not before earning a bachelor’s degree in commerce from a Hindi-medium college in Alwar, and moving to Delhi during the dot-com boom of the early 2000s to study at a computer coaching institute, where he taught himself better English to pursue advanced higher education. education in the 2000s. language and completed his masters in computer applications from Kurukshetra University. The moment of change came when he started working in software in Mumbai and later Pune, and even got an H-1 visa to move to the US. “It just wasn’t for me,” he recalls. He quit the job.
In 2009, when he visited a friend who worked at CIIE.CO, a startup incubator at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he wondered: What if they started a sales and discount aggregator? “There was a clear gap there,” he recalls about starting SaleDekho.com. However, shortly before the launch in August of that year, his co-founder decided to quit. Garg quickly took stock and moved from Maharashtra to the National Capital Region (NCR), mobilizing a team of four to five people to work full-time at the site.
The same year, Garg, looking for a co-founder with zeal rather than a fancy degree, met Saurav Adlakha, now the co-founder of DailyObjects. He remembers Adlakha, then a fresh graduate from the Indus World School of Business in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, as “a fresh graduate with burning passion”.
The duo worked through a timely transition from collecting discounts to identifying and capitalizing on the e-commerce boom. For six months, they purchased gadgets such as smartphones and cameras from wholesalers and sold them on platforms such as Mydala and Snapdeal. They “made some money,” but more importantly, they learned what not to sell. “These were easily available, had a lot of capital, high competition, but low margins, and if they got damaged, paisa bhi chala gaya (you also lose money),” says Garg. “Not the right category.”
It was at this point that an early version of DailyObjects was born – and it’s another example of Garg’s knack for spotting gaps in the market while shopping. In 2012, despite living in a busy residential area in South Delhi, he noticed that while neighborhood markets sold consumer durables such as refrigerators, TVs or smartphones, many did not have accessories such as cases and mouse pads. Garg studied an Apple reseller’s store in Delhi’s Saket and noted that while most of the sales came from Apple’s flagship products, “they had to survive on accessories.” This was perfect. “There are no breakage issues and accessories are directly related to the growth of the core products,” notes Garg, recalling the aha moment that led to the launch of DailyObjects in June 2012.
However, the company we know today only emerged in 2015, when Amazon and Flipkart became major players in e-commerce, forcing Garg and Adlakha to transform DailyObjects from a purely online marketplace into an independent D2C brand (direct to consumer). designed and manufactured accessories in-house.
In 2016, DailyObjects raised funding from Lenskart’s Peyush Bansal, Unilazer Ventures and redBus’ Phanindra Sama, among others. Still, it was a struggle and within two years of the renewal the company was close to closure. “We ran out of money, had many obligations, just no profit ₹50 lakh in monthly sales,” recalls Garg. “Then we thought: let’s go back to the basics of the company.”
When I ask him what this meant, Garg pauses, picks up a pen and paper, and begins to draw his explanation: “A focus on survival and unit economics, and a focus on building a brand.” As he speaks, a flowchart emerges: first, they’ve set clear cost targets; then they stopped taking cash on delivery orders and selling on other marketplaces.
“We have corrected for a longer-term plan,” he says. If they wanted their own brand, they had to focus on building identity. From 2017 to 2020, he claims sales increased without raising any capital ₹50 lakhs ₹2 crore per month, and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) from -50% to 8%. Only then, in late 2021, did they resume sales on other e-commerce platforms and take CoD orders. In 2022, the company raised $2 million (approx ₹16.6 crore) from venture capital firm Roots Ventures.
Today, Garg believes they have no competitor in the lifestyle and tech accessories space. He says making in India is important to him because “building processes and capabilities offers huge opportunities for the future”. Although DailyObjects does not indulge in block printing or I ate With bells and whistles to prove Indianness, they create a few collections that independent artists use desi kitsch and using liberally desi nostalgia in ad campaigns for their more minimalist, global designs – for example, the recent Postcard phone case collection video features a postman in khaki delivering mail on a bicycle.
They need to get this right, especially since their target group (TG) is young, ambitious and not lacking in exposure. “This is the mass premium category, 22 to 35 year olds with phones costing more than €3.50 ₹20,000,” says Garg. The $16.6 billion mass premium market is estimated to grow 7% to $24 billion in fiscal 2028, he added. Economic times which notes that consumer durables, among other things, are more than worth selling laptops ₹50,000 increased from 47% in 2019 to 69%, and smartphone sales increased by a wide margin ₹15,000, from 25% in 2019 to 48% now.
“If they have quality options, they are willing to spend money… so they are a perfect TG for us and our products are perfect for them,” he says. Their basket size, or products sold per order, has grown from 1.2 three years ago to 2.5 now, which translates into an increase in order value, from ₹1,000 to ₹2,400. Bags, a category that DailyObjects only added in 2020, already contribute to more than 50% of daily sales even though they ship more than 100,000 products every month, he adds. Although more than 65% of this turnover comes from their own website and their app, which has more than two million downloads, DailyObjects is now starting to see new opportunities offline as well: they want to be part of “100 Apple Resellers” by next month in the entire country”. years”.
Their post-pandemic run has left Garg confident of an ARR (annualized revenue run rate) of ₹500 crore by 2025. He also wants to capitalize on the “low-hanging opportunities” of brand partnerships, such as the one with Smartsters, a children’s furniture brand, earlier this year. “We are still developing,” he laughs. “Besides, we have a nice name… everything can become a daily use. Our story is just beginning.”
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