Startup Chrono Watch looks for expansion funding

Chrono Watch Company, incorporated in June 2012 is a new affordable luxury watch distribution, retailing and e-tailing company headquartered in Bangalore which is expected to start its operations from 15th Feb is also planning to look for expansion funding.

Speaking about Chrono, Arjun Sekri, Founding and Managing Director, Chrono Watch said, “Chrono is going to revolutionize the affordable luxury lifestyle accessory market in India through an unprecedented offering of world class watch brands at value for money prices. No other distributor or retail brand will have launched as many global brands in a single market at the same time as we are going to do.”

Chrono will be introducing and officially launching 45 international watch brands in India, which are currently not available in the country. This is the first time any watch distributor has launched such a wide array of premium quality international brands at the same time in any country.

How much funds are you planning to raise? Have you approached anyone so far? Or how are you planning for the same?
We will be looking to do this only once we have officially launched our ecommerce portal around Feb 15th and our distribution activities around the same time. We are not looking for seed funding but expansion funding for the retail expansion. While we have fielded some preliminary talks with potentially interested VC’s the talks are at a very preliminary stage as we have not yet started operations and we do not want to engage VC’s right now as the valuations will then be on a seed funding basis and not growth basis.

Who are your target Customers?
People who want to “wear their lifestyle” are our target customers. Our customers include people who are Upwardly Mobile / Aspirational, Want High and Swiss Quality, Status and Fashion Conscious, Well-heeled & Looking for Something Different and those who are Active & Sporty.

What are your target brands and what brands are you offering on your site?
We currently have contracts to be the official authorized importer and exclusive distributor in India of over 35 Swiss and other international watch brands that want to enter Indian market. We have partnered with high quality watch brands that are currently not officially available in India, and who are committed to building a relationship over the long term to develop the Indian market. We will be providing brands like Autran & Viala, Epos Swiss, Grovanna Swiss, Limes, Skywatch, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Junkers, Poljot, and around a total of 45 International Brands. Our featured watch brands are mostly from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and USA.

With so many sites offering branded watches, how would you differentiate your company? What’s your USP?
We are different from other ecommerce ventures as we are not reselling commodity consumer items at bargain basement prices and have a cash burn model based on surviving on higher and higher successive round of VC valuations, but have a business model that will be cash flow positive from the first day, because we control the import, wholesale and retail margins for most of our featured brands. Our particular USP is that we will be creating and developing the category of sports watches in India. We will launch over 20 varieties of premium and luxury sports watch brands in the Indian market for the first time. These include watches specially designed and made for diving and watersports, sailing, skiing, outdoor sports, adventure and extreme sports, motor racing, aviation, military and fitness, but which can be worn everyday as a fashion statement.

What’s the status of Luxury watch market in India? Is the category at an upswing in the country?
The branded watch market penetration in India is currently low, but expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, along with rising incomes, urbanization and aspirations of the middle class. The total market for watches in India is around 47 million watches per year, valued at around US$ 900 million and is growing at the rate of 10% – 15% per year. The market size will double over next 5 years. The premium watch segment is growing at an annual rate of 30% to 35% and is estimated to grow four-fold within the next five years. India is now reaching the inflection point for international branded watch market penetration and there is huge opportunity in the premium lifestyle watch segment in India.
As the concept of a watch being more than a utility device gains wider acceptance in India, an increasing number of men across the age and income spectrum are buying higher quality branded watches to express their individuality. This trend is only going to accelerate with the growing urbanization and higher incomes. With the rise in the number of fashion and lifestyle magazines and blogs in India, arrival of many international periodicals, the brand recall and exposure of branded watches in the mind of the consumer has gone up rapidly.

How are you planning to maintain inventory? Are you going to stock all products that are listed on your website?

Watches to be stocked in the inventory will be from affordable luxury point to accessible luxury price range i.e. between Rs.5,000 to Rs.250,000. And watches from our suppliers partner with a retail price above Rs.250,000 will initially be sourced on a customer order. After observing and analyzing the demand and market reaction over the first few months we will further fine tune our procurement strategy and value proposition for the customers, which could potentially include stocking a wider selection of watches lower down or higher up the value chain.

How have you marketed your company so far? And what all kind of approaches you going to take up for marketing and raising sales?
We have established a strong connection with our potential customer base by appealing to their senses on both an emotional and rational level. On the emotional level, our social media sites and blog posts are highly visually appealing and striking, which immediately attracts the attention of our customer base. We further emphasize this lifestyle connection with our customer base by regularly featuring watch related luxury content on fashion, celebrities, sports and travel which further establishes our brand image. We also foster a sense of community and participation among our customer and fan base, by regularly holding interesting and interactive contests. At the same time, we appeal to the practical and rational sense of our customer base by constant reminders through words and images that our watches are sensibly priced, affordable luxury and value for money purchases.  Our interaction concept with our customer base is called “infotainment” i.e. inform and entertain at the same time. Through our successful online experiential marketing strategy, we are connected with a potential customer base of over 70,000 which include 65,000 fans on Facebook and over 4,600 followers on Twitter. Our social media sites have gone viral overseas with about 35% of our fan base from 15 foreign countries.

What’s your business expansion plan for Chrono Watch for the year 2013? What are your targets?
By February 2013 we plan to be a prominent chain and independent watch retailers in the top 10 metros, and with this we plan to establish a world class ecommerce website to distribute watches throughout India, and where ever possible in selected other companies. And with this we will also be looking to set up a 1,000 square foot world class luxury watch showroom and service center in Banglore by September 2013.

Chrono Watch is founded by Arjun Sekri and Vanita Sehgal. Arjun has 12 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur and innovator in F&B, Retail, Consumer Branding and E-Commerce sectors in India. Prior to Chrono Watch, he founded multi-city boutique bakery and confectionary brand, Daily Bread Gourmet Foods in 2003. Arjun also conceived and set up Daily Brew and Deluca’s Gelato Italiano, India’s first gelato brand using Italian raw materials. Vanita, was co-founder of Daily Bread Gourmet Foods, has 7 years of entrepreneurial and operating experience in the retail and consumer sectors in India and 10 years of professional experience in consulting, investment banking and financial public relations in USA & Hong Kong.

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