noise: Smartwatch maker Noise in talks to raise funds to expand India push

Smartwatch brand Noise is in talks for its first-ever fundraising round, as it competes for the top spot in the fast-growing Indian market.

Nexxbase Marketing Pvt, which sells smartwatches and earphones under its Noise brand, seeks funds to add products and gain market share in its home base of India, where 100 million wearable devices were sold last year, people familiar with the matter said. It’s in talks with potential investors to raise $40 million to $50 million, said one of the people, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public.

Noise was founded by brothers Amit Khatri and Gaurav Khatri in 2014 in Gurugram, one of New Delhi’s satellite cities. The company first sold smartphone cases, and later moved to smartphone accessories.

Its smartwatches go for about $18 to $85, a fraction of what Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.’s higher-end products cost, helping the company snatch the lead in the Indian market by unit sales last year. It has also managed to trump Chinese contenders, which are competing against it in the lower-end segment.

Cheaper models helped India’s smart wearables market expand 47% last year, even as sales globally fell 7.7%, according to researcher IDC. Noise accounted for about 27% of units sold in India, helped by aggressive marketing efforts starring popular cricketer Virat Kohli. Indian contenders combined held 84% of the smart wearables market in the first quarter of 2023.

A spokesperson for Noise declined to comment on the company’s funding plans.

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Smart wearables is a rare electronics segment dominated by local Indian players. In smartphones, in particular, Chinese brands such as Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo have long held strong market positions in India.“They were too focused on bringing out more and more features in their smartphones, completely losing sight of the fast-growing accessories segment,” said Navkendar Singh, associate vice president at IDC Asia Pacific. “It will be very hard for them to now catch up.”

The Indian vendors still rely heavily on Chinese components, Singh said. Many local wearables brands are ramping up research and development spending, though, to reduce their dependence on imported parts, he said.

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