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Disruptor-in-chief: How Atomberg is taking on the big daddies of electrical appliances

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Sohini Mitter

33 reads
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Sohini Mitter

33 reads

Atomberg’s rise as an omnichannel brand making ‘cool’ fans is synonymous with India’s growing pool of mass-affluent consumers who're ready to upgrade. After selling 5 million energy-efficient fans, it's on track to be a Rs 1,000-crore brand by FY24-end. But how long can it stave off the big daddies?

August 28, 2023

11 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • Atomberg has disrupted a largely conventional and commoditised appliance category like fans, which has seen little to no innovation in decades
  • Core product differentiation and early offline distribution have been the driving forces behind Atomberg’s rapid growth
  • It is already the market leader in the BLDC fan segment, which is growing faster than the overall fans market in India
  • Atomberg has also pushed large incumbents like Crompton, Havells, and Bajaj to premiumise their portfolio, with BLDC fans now forming a major part of their business strategy

At the peak of the Covid lockdown in 2020, Atomberg founders Manoj Meena and Shibam Das sat down with their investors to evaluate strategies. As offline retailers stood paralysed and direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands like Atomberg surged, the big question was whether the company should get into the deep discounting of products online.  

Abhay Pandey, general partner at Atomberg’s largest investor A91 Partners and a member of Atomberg’s board, was pleasantly surprised by the conviction the 30-something founders brought to the table. “There was a lot of offtake in D2C personal care and grooming products at that time because people were just sitting at home and buying those at really low prices. It was an easy sell for brands, too. But I loved the clarity of thought that Manoj and Shibam had. They didn't just want to raise sales and make a quick buck, but were building differentiated products which created long-term value,” Pandey tells The CapTable.

“For 30-year-olds, who were still very early in their company journey, to be thinking along those lines showed a great mindset,” he adds.

That was not the only time that Atomberg would buck a popular trend. The homegrown fan maker is often categorised as a ‘D2C’ brand but more than 70% of its sales come from offline channels via general trade.

Atomberg’s distribution network currently consists of 400-plus vendors and 25,000 retail touchpoints (which it aims to double in two years). Until the year ended March 2023, the Mumbai-based startup had sold 5 million fans to ~2 million users, with half of those sales happening in FY23 alone. 

In the first quarter ended June 2023 (Q1FY24), Atomberg clocked sales of Rs 250 crore and is on course to achieve a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore by the end of this fiscal. “We are already half the size of Crompton or Havells, and are close to Bajaj,” Founder-CEO Manoj Meena tells The CapTable. “We are also EBITDA-positive and would be cash flow-positive by the end of the current fiscal.” 

In May, Atomberg went on to raise $86 million in a Series C round led by Temasek and Steadview Capital, bucking yet another trend—the global funding winter. Per Steadview Capital’s surveys, which were conducted before the fund committed to the investment, Atomberg is one of the top three brands in all retail counters it is present in. Customers are now making intent-based rather than discovery-based purchases of its products. 

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