How are you doing?
I thought we should share a brief background on why we came out with Cain.
If you remember when we started in April 2009, the focus was to design computing devices which make things easier, make us productive. One of the possible definition of these computing devices was “a tablet”.
But since then tablets have nearly failed on productivity front. They are now rarely used for anything serious and current usage is heavily tilted towards entertainment and games. This is not why we started making computing devices. Something was amiss. We still do not have holographic 3D User Interfaces with speech to text sorted out to such a perfection that we can let go of the keyboards. Moreover Android’s focus is not productivity or development, even Google’s doesn’t use Android to run their offices. For communication and consumption, yes, Android does it’s job very well, but not for productivity. This means if one was to use their device for getting work done, keyboard is must as well as an OS which is known for productivity.
Cain for us is a course correction. Cain suddenly makes 700,000 PC class applications including DTP, accounting, Engineering, scientific, etc. available on the go. With it you can confidently replace your laptops or ultrabooks as it comes with apps like Office and Outlook and never miss your tablet because of its form and touch screen. With the finer details we have added like Full USB 3.0, integrated magnetic and ergonomic keyboard-cover, sensuous surface finish, bundled wireless mouse, and now a 500GB HDD at ₹19,990, Cain is the perfect value proposition for a productivity device and we are back in making devices which actually help us get work done.
Let’s us look at few core differences which makes it way more valuable than a simple tablet.
Unlike a tablet, Cain comes with a beautifully hand crafted, soft, matte and suede leather finish for an overall sensuous feel. This cover has in it Cain and it’s keyboard. Material is washable and one can just wipe off the dust with a wet cloth. It looks premium because it is premium (keyboard with this special material is the costliest part of all).
Cain and the keyboard dock together with this 5 Pin connector and the hidden magnets. There are 2 guides on the either side which allows a perfect and fast lock. There are 6 pairs of magnets arranged in a special sequence which ensures even a slightest misalignment is automatically corrected.
We wanted to select a color which was unique. Cain’s body color changes with the light, but you will always find it in between the shades of Reddish Brown to Grayish Green. Cain uses Intel BayTrail and even though today’s Intel processors run way more cooler, good heat dissipation is always required for best performance (for all processors actually). The center of the back of Cain is made of toughened and brushed Aluminium (above is a photo of my test unit, 6 month old, with a small dent created with 14H material) to dissipate heat and cut weight. Plastics around hold 3D antennas for WiFi and Bluetooth.
Adam 1 had two FULL USB ports, and we could not have missed it this time. Cain has a specially designed USB 3.0 port which beautifully aligns itself with the Industrial design. So even though Full USB ports are thicker, the design here makes them look much thinner and appealing.
Cain has appealed to anyone who has touched it. It is our sincere effort to design something which is honest and with details which our competitors would not be able to match for some time.
Created with Love!
We shared last week that we have started our retail expansion. Mumbai has always been right there on the top in terms of sales of Cain. We have made it little easier now to get hands on experience on Cain 10 and Cain 8 in Mumbai.
Now you can walk into the Microsoft Priority Reseller in Phoenix Mall – Shree Hari Telellinks Pvt Ltd. It is a beautiful store! Here are some images to drool over:
You can check out both Cain 10 and Cain 8 in this store:
If you are in Mumbai and want to get in touch with this store, then here are the coordinates:
THIS IS OUR TURNAROUND STORY
There is nothing better that captures our story than this blog. This April will mark the 6th year for this blog and this is 148th post. Till now it captured our start and our journey till yesterday and now it is time for us to ink the story behind our turnaround.
HARDWARE IS VERY HARD
Real product/hardware start-up is insanely hard. While we burned our blood, around at the same time India has seen as an e-commerce/services revolution. To get some perspective, let’s consider Tata Steel. It is 100-year-old (started in 1907), has manufacturing operations in 26 countries, employs 80,000+ employees, build a city to host its largest plant (Jamshedpur), is the 11th largest steel producer in the world has a market cap of $5.16 billion as we speak today. Flipkart, started in 2007 on the other hand, was valued at $12 billion last December. In offline retail space Future Retail does double the revenue of Flipkart but is 1/10th in its valuation.
And no, it is not about profits (right now). This chart was published on Livemint and talks about TaxiForSure, recently acquired by Ola Cabs at $200 million.
With 2 year’s combined revenue equal to 50% of what Notion Ink did in its first 4 months and with at a staggering INR 20 crore loss, it was acquired at $200 million.
Here is an awesome article if you want to understand what is going on.
Ok, now that this bitching against the segment we are NOT IN is over ( :( :) ), let’s talk about us, the Inkers.
2013 was hard for us. From 1 person in April 2009 we had grown to 100+ by 2012 and by 2013, we were 25 which further deduced to 9 people by early 2014. No co-founder are there any more. Few started their own companies, few got lured out by the handsome package and equity share, and the rest got absorbed by the competition. This is when the turnaround started. Everyone who has left Notion Ink has given their heart and soul and only when it was impossible for them to handle the pressure (emotional, financial or by the virtue of their ambitions), they decided to call it quits. When you are around with people who think that the plan is not going to work, it doesn’t work. In retrospect, everything happens for a reason.
Notion Ink was not started to make tablets which many started believing. Notion Ink was started to make computing easier (computing here does not refer to browsing internet, chatting, emailing or watching movies, that’s entertainment). Even today if you are not a programmer, you cannot make computers work. A doctor with 20+ years of experience can not use compute power to get better results, make sense out of the statistics/large-study or discover missing correlations, unless he is a programmer or someone else has written an app for him. Notion Ink was started to solve this problem – to actually make computers help us.
However this must go hand in hand with what is practical. Business must go on, and it must be positive.
Cain was the course correction for us. By July 2014 people who were not aligned with this goal had left or were asked to leave, we had strong products ready for productivity, a great new member for the Operations and good relations with Microsoft and Intel.
THE KEYS TO EXECUTING A TURNAROUND
A hardware/physical product company needs 3 more things along with an excellent product. First is the distributor’s confidence for inventory, second is a great plan for massive visibility for marketing and third is the best possible customer care and services support. All these 3 are super critical and cannot be ranked for their importance.
India is a vast country and the current solution of setting up service centers across the country is not the correct solution. Majority of these service centers are actually drop-in and pick-up center for the customers. PCB today cannot be fixed by hand, they need special machines operating in dedicated environment. Moreover, customers spend uncounted hours in delivering and picking their products. We resolved this by setting up an extremely strong Quality Control mechanism. Every single device is tested thrice before they are packed and sent out to the customers. Most of the competitors are selling the boxes as they arrive from China, not knowing whether the manufacturer’s claim on quality are valid or not.
The irony starts in here. The very eCommerce revolution we spoke about earlier is also the way out for product companies looking for effective marketing. The performance of 1 day front page banner on Snapdeal.com is 100 times better than placing a hoarding in the busiest place. Snapdeal helped us resolve our visibility problems. Fellows at Snapdeal.com are great and we also got the opportunity to see, how one of the top start-ups actually function, up close.
Once we got Snapdeal.com for the visibility, customer services model in place, excellent product and backing from Microsoft’s and Intel’s team on the product’s future, getting the distributor’s “cautious” confidence become easier.
“We launched in September and within a fortnight, Notion Ink became the highest selling Windows 2in1 in India”
NOTION INK IS THE HIGHEST 2IN1 SELLER
This is based on the real import and sales data of all 2in1 and tablets in India and we hold a very impressive share in overall Windows tablet market as well. This is after we have the foreigners dumping in their products at insane price points.
To counter this attack we have started strategically placing our products offline. The plan is not to fill in every shelf, but being visible and available at most probable places where one would look for a 2in1/Windows tablet. The map below shows our offline presence currently spreading out from Bangalore (Karnataka)
We have targeted Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharastra, Gujarat, Delhi (very important market for us), West Bengal, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The locations picked are strategic and contextual (below is an example of Cain available in Microsoft Priority Stores in Delhi).
Cain is beautiful, and we have poured out our heart while making it. The 4.3+ rating after 800+ reviews is the testimony of our hard work.
We have made lot of friends and critics in this journey and today we are even more driven to them say soon, we have done it. Our only message to all the product start-ups out there is: