The idea for his startup, Author Form, stemmed from Ronak Jangid's desire to solve a simple problem: typing a message on a touchscreen phone using one hand. An ardent Blackberry fan and user, Ronak was a late adopter of touchscreen Android phones.
Once, while on a bus, he truly realised how difficult it was to use a huge touchscreen phone with just one hand. “I found it a big hassle replying to an important message with one hand,” he adds. Ronak then wondered if providing a sort of ‘grip’ at the back of the phone would help.
He then built a stand that could work on any phone with or without a case. It could provide a secure grip, and work as a stand as well. He fashioned the first prototype out of wood for his sister. “My sister’s college teachers and friends liked it very much and wanted to know where they could get the same for themselves,” Ronak recalls.
And this was how Author Form came to be in 2016. The Gandhigram-based startup designs, develops, manufactures, and sells Gripr - the mobile grip stand, and has other innovative products in the prototype stage: a laptop stand, sit-stand desk converter, lap desk, a work chair, etc, designed for better ergonomics.
The bootstrapped startup started selling its products by the end of 2017. Gripr is currently priced between Rs 139 and Rs 149, and is available on ecommerce sites such as Amazon and Flipkart.
A grip on ergonomics
Ronak first tested out Gripr among his family and friends. Soon, the startup garnered a product review in a leading national daily, which helped Ronak establish a wholesaler network across Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
Most of Ronak's ideas for his startup came from ergonomic issues he faced while working at his family's passport consultancy business. He tried out different laptop stands, chairs, and stools, but it just didn’t help.
“I have made several prototypes - height adjustable sit-stand desk converter, height adjustable sit-stand desk converter cum lap desk, ultra-lightweight laptop stand, and an ergonomic Indian work chair, and have been using one for some time now,” he says.
The startup's laptop stands, chairs, and stools are currently in the prototype stage, and are yet to hit the market.
Ironing out the basics
Without having any background in design or manufacturing, Ronak decided to work on building his skill sets. First, he did online product design courses on Coursera and Edx. Ronak also learnt 3D modelling by trying several free softwares, and gave life to the design he had in mind since 2016.
“To add more value and functionality to the design, I incorporated a kickstand as well. Then I made several 3D printed prototypes and tested all options and finalised one specification to take it further for manufacturing,” says Ronak.
He made the mould at the Indo-German Tool Room (IGTR) at Ahmedabad (MSME Unit). “It was extremely challenging, I used to travel to Ahmedabad several times in a month for close to two years,” adds Ronak.
The cost of the mould was Rs 1.55 lakh, and the raw material used was ABS plastic, which he earlier sourced from Ahmedabad. Ronak also sourced the packaging material and 3M double sided table from Ahmedabad.
The injection moulding at IGTR, the raw materials, 3M tape and packing, and the labour set him close to Rs 50.
“The final product is assembled and packed at home in Gandhigram by our family, and we have one employee,” says Ronak.
The market and space
According to a report by MarketsandResearch, the mobile accessories market in India is expected to touch Rs 252.8 crore by 2023. A Frost and Sullivan report adds the mobile phone market in terms of value will grow at a CAGR of 23.4 percent.
At present, Gripr not only competes with leading brands in India, but also with Chinese products that are flooding the market. Brands like Regulus are looking closely at the mobile accessory space.
However, the key differentiator, according to Ronak, is the fact that the manufacturing is done keeping in mind the Indian ergonomic needs and requirements. Also, he adds that Author Form is working on keeping the manufacturing costs low in order to keep the prices competitive. Working out of Gandhigram has helped on that front.
Speaking of the future, Ronak says they intend to launch Gripr 2.0, a height-adjustable laptop stand, sit-stand desk converter, and ergonomic work sitting system. The team aims to make innovative products for the Indian market with global relevance.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)