“The Global Selling Program is an incredible platform that enables brands like Skillmatics with high quality products to seamlessly expand globally and reach new customers.”
From working as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in the US to now building a toy brand in India that is flying off shelves in the US, Dhvanil Sheth's journey has been remarkable. From crossing 3 million units in global sales, to being the first Indian brand to sell globally with Hamleys, and most recently attaining the No 1 Rank across the entire Toys & Games category on Amazon USA, Skillmatics, the toy brand that Dhvanil built, has a lot of milestones to celebrate.
Excerpts from an interview with him:
Skillmatics – the brand you built is a global hit of sorts. Tell us a little about the journey - the motivation, the vision and challenges that make it what it is today.
Prior to starting Skillmatics, I used to work as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the US and Canada and specialised in the consumer and retail industry. During my time in North America, I was struck by how there was no leading global brand from India in any major consumer category.
This was my starting point and I was determined to build a truly global brand from India – for the world. My belief was that technology has eliminated all the historical barriers to building a global brand. In today’s world, a start-up with an innovative product can directly sell to consumers at a global scale. I believe that we are just at the start of this megatrend and multiple companies will leverage the internet and platforms like Amazon to build iconic global brands.
The journey has been incredibly rewarding and we have hit a number of milestones along the way – crossing 3 million units in global sales, being the first Indian brand to sell globally with Hamleys, raising funding from Sequoia Capital, building a team of 100+ people and most recently attaining the No 1 Rank across the entire Toys & Games category on Amazon USA! Like any start-up, we have faced a number of challenges along the way but our team’s grit and perseverance has always prevailed.
When did you find out about the Global Selling Program on Amazon India and how has that helped you?
Skillmatics initially started off on Amazon India and quickly started dominating the educational games category. Once we saw that customers loved our products, we started to explore how we could expand globally. It was around the same time, that the Amazon team contacted us after seeing our traction in India about launching on the Global Selling Program and it was music to our ears!
The Global Selling Program is an incredible platform that enables brands like Skillmatics with high quality products to seamlessly expand globally and reach new customers. In fact, North America is now our biggest market and it is all thanks to the Global Selling Program.
COVID has brought on difficult times for businesses. As a company how are you tiding over the challenges?
COVID has been an extremely challenging time. As a company, our top priority has been the safety and wellbeing of our team. We have moved to a complete work form home model and surprisingly our productivity is higher than ever before!
We have faced multiple disruptions across our supply chain and it has now been 100+ days of daily firefighting. However, I believe the worst is behind us and things will only improve from here as the lockdown in India continues to get lifted.
On the positive side, demand for Skillmatics has skyrocketed as parents are looking for high quality products to engage their children during this time. Our innovative products which focus on building cognitive skills through systematic play are the ideal solution for parents. We are seeing tremendous traction and expect this to continue throughout 2020.
Building a global brand that’s made in India. What is the road ahead for you in particular and for the “Made in India” brand in general?
We are committed to our vision of building a global brand from India – for the world!
I strongly believe that India has a once in a lifetime opportunity with the ongoing geopolitical tensions. This is India’s chance to capture a larger share of the global pie and all of us must respond decisively.
Skillmatics operates in a category where 90% of global products are made in China. Despite this, we have always been deeply committed to Make in India. I am proud that every single Skillmatics product is 100% Made in India.
Finally, what is your advice to all those start-ups in India? What is one thing that they should always remember when building a brand – global or local?
My advice to any start-up founder is to never give up. One of the things that I have learned is that grit and perseverance are the biggest drivers of success. With respect to building a consumer brand, I believe the key is to have patience and a long term view.
While technology start-ups can scale extremely rapidly, iconic consumer brands cannot be built overnight. As a founder, you must be mentally prepared for the long journey ahead.