Inside FPV struck a deal with four sharks in the tank.
Last Updated: 03.51 PM, Jan 20, 2023
For Arth Chowdhary, Oshi Kumari and Deyvant Dhardwaj, the sky’s the limit, which they proved with their innovative drone company Inside FPV, the first consumer based company to supply drones in India. With the Indian government banning foreign made drones in the country last year, the trio certainly found a huge market for themselves. During their appearance on Shark Tank India season 2, they certainly made an impact on the judges and walked away with a four shark deal, with Namita Thapar, Amit Jain, Aman Gupta and Peyush Bansal.
The company’s co-founder Arth joined OTTplay for a candid chat, where he discussed, among other things, the incredible foresight they had while starting their drone company.
Excerpts from the interview…
How did you come up with the idea for a drone company? At the time when you started the company foreign drones were available(the government regulation banning foreign made drones had been announced last year in February).
When we were in college, we were enthusiastic about drones and piloting and flying. Me and my co-founders were also into flying them. We realised that there was a lack of availability of the spare parts where we had to wait for like 30-45 days to get them from different websites. And then, we realised that this market has a big potential. Also at the time, COVID was at a point where we realised that the ties between the Indian government and the Chinese government might be at stake. And people would go in for the banning of the Chinese stocks and products. So that was something that we foresaw,abhi nahi toh baad main, Chinese drones ban ho jayenge. So we took that vision and what we thought in 2022 eventually happened in 2022. Chinese drones were banned and so we got a first mover advantage into the consumer group space. And we started the drone company with an investment of just Rs 5000.
After that whenever we generated any revenue, we put it back into the company, which went on for about 18 months. After that we got the funding and the grant. So now we could put all our focus on growing the company and meet the growing demand.
So you had anticipated what COVID was going to do with the drone market, which is quite impressive.But did COVID present any difficulties for your company as well, since you guys source a lot of your hardware from abroad?
This is what people usually ask, and the answer is very simple and easy. Drones are a very emerging industry. Capex is the infrastructure you need to manufacture drone parts. India still doesn't have that and that's the main reason we get the spare parts from the foreign countries. We then assemble, integrate and provide the drone to the customers, giving them 100% accessibility to buy the things. Our dream is to have drones fly everywhere in the country.
Did COVID present any difficulties for you guys when you were starting the company?
Eventually we were a team of three people. One of the main problems when it comes to building a startup when you come from a technical background is that we needed to learn more about the finances, how the taxes worked in the system, the software etc. so we had to build a team for this, and now we are a team of about 40. Our parents, supervisors, advisors and mentors helped us a lot too.
The government ban came only last year, so what did your competition look like before that?
Talking about competition, until 6 months from when the company started, there was not any kind of combination. Eventually people realised our potential. There was this one company that tried to copy and replicate us. We still have that on our Instagram stories. We realise eventually people will come up, trying to replicate us and what we have done.
But we never fear competition because we feel that innovation, product building and customer satisfaction will eventually build trust in our brand. So, mainly innovation is what we feel will make us stand out as a business.
When Anupam Mittal declared himself ‘out’, he said that the space is going to be very competitive and the industry would be commoditised. How would you respond to that?
Anupam talked about commoditization. But us as a company, we’re not just focussed on the hardware. We started as a consumer company, now we have an agricultural drone as well. We focus on both hardware and software, and our goal is also creating an ecosystem of drones as well. We’re also working on entering the defence sector as well. When people think about drones, we want them thinking about Inside FPV.
Since appearing on Shark Tank, have your marketing strategies changed?
Yes. So before it was all organic, and word of mouth mostly. After Shark Tank, we are looking to set up a drone arena, similar to a gaming arena. So this way people can experience the drones and experience the drone before buying. They can even race them as well. We’re also partnering up with colleges etc. We are also focussing more on our social media marketing as well.
You struck a deal with four sharks, Namita, Peyush, Aman and Amit. So how are the sharks involved in the company at the moment?
The sharks showed us new ideas and gave suggestions for our new website. It has really made a huge difference. We are happy to have on board four sharks who offer expertise in so many different areas.