Direct to consumer (D2C) selling is today among the most sought-after industries for startups and investors. Projected to be a $100 billion market by 2025, more than 600 brands have already joined the D2C bandwagon in India. But at the centre of this growth is content commerce – another rising industry that is helping D2C brands innovate and share their story with their target audience in a snackable manner.
HYPD Store, a New Delhi-based startup, aims to position itself at the centre of this hunt for innovation. The company looks to drive ecommerce sales for brands through lively pictures, video content, and live interactions, while buyers consume the content in the age of ‘See it, Like it, Buy it’.
Launched at the start of the pandemic in April 2020 by serial entrepreneurs Ashwarya Garg and Akshay Bhatnagar, HYPD Store is the fourth startup for the founder duo. Former founding partners of Innov8 (acquired by OYO) and Zostel, they had also tested the waters in the 3D printing segment.
“The Gen Z (the always connected millennials) is a tough nut to crack for marketers across the globe. This target audience forms more than 50 percent of potential consumers for the brands that particularly target the ecommerce or D2C channel of selling. With HYPD Stores, we aim to disrupt this segment at a deeper level,” says Ashwarya.
The early pivot and growth
HYPD was initially born as an aggregator between brands and content creators to indulge in brand endorsement and engaging content creation, and bring a fun side to the ever-evolving and avid target group audience.
“Then Covid happened! Companies across the globe had slashed their marketing and operation budgets due to the impact of COVID-19. Thus, what started as feedback from one of our clients, evolved into a full-scale MVP after research and focus group learning, and we pivoted to HYPD Store” says Akshay.
With HYPD Store, while users can learn new trends and buy the products in a hassle-free manner, brands can showcase their products in a storytelling narrative cashing upon the impulse buying phenomenon and reducing the drop rates on checkout. Also, the platform acts as a medium to flourish creators’ economy, helping them to take on paid gigs and earn good remuneration at the same time.
With a team size of 15, today HYPD Stores claims to have 45,000+ downloads, and an average session time of over 18 minutes. Some of the brand partners it works with are The Man Company, Doodlage, Bombay Shaving Company, Khadi essentials, Flatheads, Dmodot, Kaisori, Roadgods, Trip Machine, among the other 100+ top Indian D2C brands.
The founders also raised a pre-seed round of funding from ScoopWhoop, a youth media platform, in February 2021.
Akshay Bhatnagar and Ashwarya Garg, Co-founders, HYPD Store
How it works?
One of the key products offered by HYPD Store is Pebbles. Here the consumers get to watch an unending feed of short content in the form of videos and pictures around D2C brands with catchy scripts highlighting the latest trends.
On the HYPD Store app, Pebbles creates an ‘Instagram reels’ like appeal. While the picture/video is playing, the viewer can like, share and directly add the shown product into the cart through a direct ‘Buy Now’ button, and can process the checkout through HYPD Store only.
Another interesting feature is ‘Live video commerce’. Simply live selling, it combines the elements of online selling and live streaming, allowing consumers to buy and shop anything and everything that they see on the feed.
“So HYPD is a complete asset lite model. On every product, HYPD enjoys a 20 to 55 percent margin, depending upon the category of products,” adds Akshay.
On top of it, HYPD makes revenue from content creation projects undertaken for the brand, and collaborates with content creators.
Challenges, competition, and the road ahead
Ashwarya reminisces the early days of product design. A major challenge was to design to amplify the ‘Look to Buy’ ratio that captures the aesthetics of being a discovery-content-destination app in one. The other challenge was to deliver an experience that is not compared to Instagram or TikTok or any other short video streaming app.
“The most differentiating element for HYPD Store is bringing together the ‘discovery – content – destination’ together in one space for ‘brand-content creator-consumer relationship.’ This has never been done in India before; especially adding a layer of curation to it, because curation is not a feature, it’s a product!” exclaims Akshay.
Although a first mover in many aspects, there is a sense of competition from some established brands. For instance, in India, it is LBB, which has recently ventured into ecommerce with their existing content. Globally, they see Taobao (China, Live Commerce); PopshopLive (US, Live Commerce); Depop (UK, Content Commerce) as competitors.
However, overall, the founders are optimistic. The team now has category expansion and product enhancement on cards.
In the days ahead, the main challenge for the team will be upskilling a large base of content creators with resources and tools to create a constant feed of high-quality content, meant for an affluent audience, and appreciated by urban millennials.
“This is a problem we will be most glad to solve at scale since it drives the opportunity for content creators to have a passion for income. We aim to accelerate our growth to the next 1 million users in four to six months. By the end of the financial year 2021-22; we are aiming for an ARR GMV of 100 crores,” adds a very optimistic Ashwarya.