With over 50 industry awards and millions of customers worldwide, Drobo has demonstrated success solving the three major storage challenges in one device – data protection, capacity adjustment and application service-level optimization – through patented BeyondRAID, Thin Provisioning / Reclamation and the breakthrough Automated Data-Aware Tiering technology. Unlike other storage options, Drobo lets users hot-swap drives, mix and match drives of different capacities, speeds and types (SATA / SAS), and perform zero-support drive pack migration. This means customers can optimize storage economics without worrying about drive order, data loss, downtime or compatibility and swap the drives as needed, while the Drobo is still running. Drobo provides award-winning data storage products for SMBs, individual professionals and consumers which provide an unparalleled combination of sophisticated data protection and management features, capacity, ease-of-use and price. In an Interaction with NCN, Mihir Shah, CEO, Drobo, shares their company’s outlook, strategies and futures goals for the Indian market. Excerpts of the interview:
What is the core competency of Drobo?
We are a Silicon Valley, US based company with our manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China; and R&D Center in Silicon Valley, US. We also have small R&D teams in Chennai & Cochin which particularly focus on the needs of Indian customers. Our CTO is based in UK where we also undertake software development needed for our devices. We are strongly positioned in US education and consumer segments. In India, we started two years back and we are progressing well here reaffirming our investment and commitment. We are positioning ourselves as premium memory & storage products brand in the Indian market, in contrast to those who sell just plastic boxes. Our USPs is our solutions offer ease-of- use, come with high quality and at the right price points. Our products are easy-to-set up, as they take up just 30 seconds to 30 minutes, where similar products of other brands may need several hours and up to 24 hrs. Our marketing and engineering teams work strategically to identify the right features that suit the users and the right verticals to position our products. We are focusing on the segments like healthcare, surveillance, education, etc where dense and image files like X-rays, videos, heavy data, are created, analyzed and saved. We are also providing our solutions to US military where our devices can be used easily even by those who are not experts in IT, like the soldiers in the field, thus saving a lot which otherwise would have to be spent on hiring IT personnel.
What are your plans for the Indian market?
India is a huge market where GDP is growing at a rate of over 7%. So it offers huge opportunities, which cannot be ignored. In India, we are wired up with a couple of distributors through whom we network with other partners and resellers, conduct events and sell our products. Drobo is in India at the right time. Dashboard, apps, etc in our solutions are software and the storage part is hardware. Our solutions are the right combinations of software and hardware which give us edge over our competitors while positioning our brand. Our service policy is aimed at offering the best after-sales-customer service experience. We provide the quality and value for money. India has a huge media industry which includes film industries in different region languages which huge opportunities for storage. Another trend nowadays is youth are shifting more from traditional media to social media like YouTube. Keep this trend in mind, shortly we will be conducting a huge conference in US on YouTube content and how storage products can be of use while interacting with such media. This trend has already caught up in the US, and expected to spread to India in the coming years.
What is your channel strategy and as a new brand in India how do you motivate your partners?
Our channel strategy is so defined that it will place both the brand and the partners in a Win-Win situation. We conduct regular partner-support programs to educate the channel about our storage solutions, which segments they should target and how they should present our products & value propositions to the end customers. We are getting good feedback from our channel partners and based on that feedback, we will keep updating our strategies. We are also going to appoint new partners and distributors to meet our expansion needs. We are focusing on guiding resellers how to sell in a localized manner. For the entry level products, we are also drawing an online channel strategy. As the middle-class in India is increasing both in terms of size and disposable income, the users in the middle class tend to consume more music and videos, use cameras and other devices on the move and they need more storage devices. Keeping this in mind, we will soon placing some of our devices on online channels like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. We are active on social media too which helps partners to promote our products.
Do you have any plans to Make in India under the government’s new initiative?
We understand that the Indian government is giving incentives to manufacture here. Manufacturing in India seems to be an attractive proposition. We are thinking about Make in India option, though we have not yet reached any conclusion. Right now I cannot comment much on that front. Smart Cities initiative is expected to offer us lots of opportunities.
Service is critical for the success of a brand in the current competitive market conditions. What is your service strategy?
Regarding service, what we observed in India the customer first calls the reseller. Customers here want local service support where they can deal in their local languages. In this context, we are planning to set up authorized service centers in different locations where customers can contact and interact easily in their local language. Right now, in each city we have two or three repair stations and we plan to increase number further with customized local support.
What is Drobo strategy for consumers who have personal storage needs?
We are actively working on our strategies in the consumer segment on which we made good investment. And the results are very profitable. We are focusing on providing single drives and 5-bay and 8-bay devices for consumer segment. On the mobile devices side, nearly 60-65% our customers are Apple users, because our solutions are easy- to-use, they look beautiful, made of metal, they have high quality and work the way consumers need. We have private cloud solution where the data can be saved by device and date and also different people or family members can store their data. The files get automatically organized. The simple process saves a lot of time, effort and anxiety. That is the advantage with Drobo. The millennial generation of buyers are our main focus.
Where do you want to see Drobo in the next three years in India?
We foresee a great success for us in the coming years in the Indian market. We are expecting 300% increase of our business over the coming three years in India. We will promote more aggressively, expand our reach and bring more storage solutions to the Indian market.