Padmaja Ruparel is Founding Partner of IAN Fund.
Over the last few years, there has been a surge in the popularity of health tracker smartwatches. Once dismissed as a fad, they are now a mainstay thanks to the cutting-edge health and fitness features that provide round-the-clock real-time alerts. Besides telling time, these smartwatches also monitor heart rate, blood pressure, physical activity, and sleep.
The health-tech consumer wearables space has evolved by leaps and bounds since the first smartwatch was introduced in 1984. Today, with increasing awareness about health and fitness, smartwatches have become popular across all age groups. The increasing dependency on data, surge in demand for wireless devices for sports and fitness, especially after the pandemic, has led to the emergence of a large number of players. This growth in wearable technology is gradually becoming a fashion statement, especially with millennials.
What’s more interesting is that one can easily access calls and messages via these new-age wearable devices. Wearable devices reflect the convergence of sectors, such as health tech, entertainment, communication, and even fintech.
The numbers are growing
With an estimated growth rate of 19.6 percent CAGR from 2020 to 2027, the global smartwatch market is projected to reach a market value of $96.31 billion by 2027. India is the third-largest consumer of wearable devices globally. The country's wearable market grew 144.3 percent year-over-year (YoY) in 2020, as reported by market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). With this, India became the only country in the top 20 to witness triple-digit growth.
The Covid-19 effect
The global health crisis has revolutionised the way citizens perceive digital health. It has accelerated the use of digital health technologies enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data, among others. The country has already been home to several smartwatch players, including tech giants such as Apple, Samsung, and Noise. However, the proliferation of new-age homegrown startups in the health-tech consumer wearables space, such as GOQii, Fitbit, Motiv Ring, are growing rapidly. Startups like GridAnts allow collaboration across multiple devices. These startups have cornered only a fraction of the market yet and have huge growth potential.
Is there any roadblock?
Yes, to an extent! Besides maintaining consistent cash flow, early-stage startups must identify local demands and develop devices/products relevant to the consumer. These will further help them build their brand identity and chalk their long-term marketing, scaling, and expansion strategies. It would also mean the development of high quality, consistent supply chain.
Where are investors focusing?
Startups in the health-tech consumer wearable space require early investments with high quality mentoring to build innovation, embed deep technology and help build a scalable growth strategy. Investors focus on the gross margins, pricing strategy, customer profiling and delivery models. It would allow them to understand the probability of success and more importantly, how these early investors could help the company grow. Moreover, investors prefer companies that provide products or services in healthcare, payments, gaming, and so on, besides just offering smart wearables.
Devices with the potential to be used as identity keys or even for payments that will replace mobile phones can win hearts. There is a rise in investment for startups working on building a much more connected ecosystem using wearable technology.
In conclusion, the future of the health-tech consumer wearables space looks promising, with opportunities existing in the unexplored areas of IoT, smart homes, home security, and so on. In the post-pandemic world, health and wellness have taken centre stage. Therefore, innovators developing consumer-focused health-tech products or services will fill the gap between current and future needs.
The writer is co-founder of Indian Angel Network.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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