This Startup is Changing the Game with ‘As Good As New’ Pre-Owned Smartphones

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Yug Bhatia, Founder & CEO, ControlZ
Yug Bhatia, Founder & CEO, ControlZ

ControlZ is a startup that has introduced a new segment called the Renewed smartphone category to the pre-owned segment. Unlike other refurbished models, ControlZ’s products are ‘as good as new,’ creating an aspirational value for pre-owned smartphones. The startup is trying to address the significant environmental impact of smartphone manufacturing and the electronic waste generated by mobile phone disposal. With billions of smartphones being sold every year, the problem of underutilization will continue until perpetuity. By extending the life cycle of mobile phones and reducing the number of devices that end up in landfills, ControlZ is helping to reduce electronic waste and prevent the leaching of harmful chemicals into the environment.

ControlZ Logo

ControlZ was founded by Mr. Yug Bhatia, the CEO and only founder of the company. He has been passionately working in this space for about 3 years and has been trying to perfect the renewal process along with his team but officially set up ControlZ in April 2022. The company’s aim is to provide a solution that helps to reduce electronic waste and extend the life cycle of mobile phones, contributing to a more sustainable future and helping to address a significant environmental challenge.

ControlZ’s products provide consumers with a more affordable option for high-quality smartphones without compromising on the quality or functionality of the device. The company’s Renewed smartphone category has the potential to revolutionize the pre-owned market by providing a more sustainable alternative that benefits both the consumer and the environment. With Mr. Bhatia’s passion and expertise in this space, ControlZ is well-positioned to make a significant impact in the industry and pave the way for a more sustainable future. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Yug Bhatia, founder and CEO, ControlZ:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem.

Ans: The problem that ControlZ is trying to solve is the significant environmental impact of smartphone manufacturing and electronic waste generated by the disposal of mobile phones. According to various studies, producing a single smartphone takes around 165 pounds of raw materials, 63 kilowatt-hours of energy, and 2497 gallons of water. Additionally, the production of one smartphone generates around 70 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions.

A high-quality smartphone can be used for about 5 years but is currently used for only around 2 years and then dumped. With billions of smartphones being sold every year, the problem of underutilization will continue till perpetuity.  By extending the life cycle of mobile phones and reducing the number of devices that end up in landfills, we are helping to address the problem of electronic waste and reduce the environmental impact of smartphone manufacturing. Every device sold by ControlZ represents one less device that was manufactured and one less device that will end up in a landfill, conserving natural resources, reducing carbon emissions, and preventing the leaching of harmful chemicals into the environment.

ControlZ is Revolutionizing the Pre-Owned Smartphone Industry with Renewed Category
ControlZ is Revolutionizing the Pre-Owned Smartphone Industry with Renewed Category

Therefore, the problem that we are addressing is big, with significant environmental consequences. By providing a solution that helps to reduce electronic waste and moreover save the waste generated in the manufacturing of a device and extend the life cycle of mobile phones, we are contributing to a more sustainable future and helping to address a significant environmental challenge.

Q. : List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members have specific domain expertise. 

Ans: Sure. They are:

Yug Bhatia – Founder and CEO

Rohan Roy – Production and Manufacturing Expert

Parvez Malik – Finance Head

Tushar Vats – Head of Quality check department

Mr. Yug Bhatia – He is the CEO and founder of the company, with a passion for sustainability and technology. He brings leadership skills and a strong vision to the team, and his expertise in these areas will be key in driving ControlZ’s growth and success.

Mr. Rohan Roy – He brings over 10 years of experience in production and manufacturing, with notable achievements in setting up new production lines for companies such as Gabriel India Pvt Ltd, Vivo Mobile India Pvt Ltd, Moshine Electronics Pvt Ltd, and Oppo Mobile India Ltd. His experience and expertise in these areas will be crucial in helping ControlZ increase its production capacity and ensure the quality of its products.

Mr. Parvez Malik – H brings over 8 years of experience in the finance industry, with a detail-oriented approach and problem-solving skills. His expertise in finance will be essential in managing ControlZ’s financial operations, ensuring the company’s financial health, and contributing to its growth and success.

Mr. Tushar Vats – As the head of the Quality Check Department at controlZ, Tushar Vats is a valuable member of the team due to his extensive experience in the telecom industry, technical support, and team management. He has a keen eye for detail, which is essential in ensuring that the company’s products meet high standards. Tushar’s expertise and punctuality also make him an asset to the team, as he collaborates with his colleagues to improve the overall quality of the company’s products.

Over time, as ControlZ grows and expands, the core team members’ roles may evolve and change to accommodate the company’s needs. For example, Rohan’s expertise in production and manufacturing may become even more critical as ControlZ increases its production capacity, and he may take on a larger role in overseeing production operations. Similarly, Parvez’s role may evolve to encompass other areas of finance, such as fundraising and investor relations. Tushar Vats will be the key person involved as the production capacity increases to oversee and set the final checks before dispatch and maintain the quality of every product.

Overall, the core team members of ControlZ bring a unique mix of skills and expertise that will be instrumental in the company’s success. Their domain expertise in production, manufacturing, finance, technology, and sustainability will help ControlZ achieve its mission of reducing electronic waste and extending the life cycle of mobile phones.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.

Ans: ControlZ is a company that specializes in renewing premium smartphones, making them functionally and cosmetically as good as new. Our product solves the problem of consumers who are looking for a high-quality smartphone but cannot afford the premium price tag.

Our first customer came through one of our marketplace partners. We had listed our renewed smartphones on their platform, and a customer was interested in buying one of our products. The customer was pleased with the quality of the product, and we received positive feedback from them. This experience gave us the confidence to continue building our product and business model.

To achieve product-market fit, we conducted extensive research on the target market and analyzed their needs and preferences. We studied the smartphone market and identified the gap that our product could fill. We also analyzed customer feedback and made improvements to our product based on their suggestions. We continually iterated on our product until we felt that we had found the right balance between price, quality, and customer satisfaction.

We decided to partner with marketplaces to sell our products initially because it allowed us to test our product in the market without the need for a large marketing budget. Through this approach, we were able to gauge customer demand and make necessary improvements to our product.

ControlZ is Leading the Way in Sustainable Mobile Phone Usage with Renewed Smartphones
ControlZ is Leading the Way in Sustainable Mobile Phone Usage with Renewed Smartphones

After we had established our product-market fit, we officially launched our website to sell our products directly to customers. By this time, we had built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality renewed smartphones, and our sales began to grow rapidly.

Overall, our approach to achieving product-market fit involved conducting extensive research, analyzing customer feedback, making iterative improvements, and partnering with marketplaces to test our product in the market. This approach allowed us to build a strong foundation for our business and establish ourselves as a trusted provider of renewed premium smartphones.

Q.: What is your USP? The uniqueness of your Startup. 

Ans: Our USP is that we provide renewed mobile devices that are as good as new both functionally and cosmetically, along with accessories and 100% battery health of the device. We focus on making an old device desirable and increasing its lifecycle, which is a unique proposition in the market. The second-hand market right now simply grades a device in terms of its condition and sells them to a customer. The problem here is with the feel of the device and its functionality. We want to change that and provide the consumer with the best experience, a device that does not feel used.

Our insight is that many people are willing to purchase high-quality products at affordable prices and are drawn to brands that align with their values and lifestyle choices. People are still hesitant in the pre-owned phone market which is what we want to change and bring in trust with our products.

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up? 

Ans: When we entered the market, our assumption was that there was a significant demand for high-end smartphones but an issue with affordability. We target aspirational price-conscious consumers would likely be middle-income individuals and families who are looking to purchase high-quality products at affordable prices. This group may be particularly interested in products that offer value for money, such as those that provide a combination of style, functionality, and durability. They may also be drawn to brands that align with their values and lifestyle choices, such as those that prioritize sustainability or social responsibility. Additionally, this group may be particularly responsive to marketing campaigns that highlight the benefits of the company’s products and additional services and how they can improve their lives.

We learned that our assumption was correct, and our target audience was indeed interested in purchasing premium pre-owned devices in as good as new condition. We have many customers who have signed up for our products and are happy with their purchases.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it?

Ans: I have faced many challenges in my journey. One of my biggest failures was the incapability to scale up at the speed I wanted. I have learned that it is crucial to set down a strong foundation first and perfect the renewal process step by step before scaling up.

Investing in the right people, processes, and technology is crucial for sustainable growth in the future. Rushing the scaling process can lead to costly mistakes and even failure. Therefore, it is essential to strike a balance between speed and quality.

Through my experience, I have learned that the ability to scale is critical to the success of any business. Still, it is equally important to focus on building a strong foundation and perfecting processes before scaling up. Learning from past experiences is vital for entrepreneurs to continue to grow and succeed in their ventures.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc.? Explain your thought process. 

Ans: We price our products competitively, taking into account the market trends and the value that we provide to our customers. Our pricing strategy is based on providing high-quality products at affordable prices, which we believe is a unique proposition in the market. We follow a premium pricing model in terms of pre-owned category, which allows us to provide additional value to our customers while still remaining profitable. Our devices are usually half the price of the same new device.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it.

Ans: We are proud to have created a new segment in the market by offering renewed smartphones that are as good as new, with component-level refurbishment and an 18-month warranty.

When we first started controlZ, we saw a gap in the market for high-quality renewed smartphones. While there were other brands offering refurbished devices, we noticed that they often had visible wear and tear, or their components were not fully refurbished to the same level as a new device. We knew that consumers wanted a better option, and that’s why we set out to create controlZ.

Through our unique know-how of smartphone renewal, we are able to fully refurbish devices to a like-new condition. Our team of experts meticulously test and replace any faulty components, ensuring that each device meets our strict quality standards. We also offer a generous 18-month warranty on all of our products, giving our customers peace of mind and confidence in their purchase.

Since launching, controlZ has experienced tremendous success. We have gained a loyal customer base who appreciate the quality and value of our products. We have also received positive feedback from tech experts and influencers who have praised our innovative approach to smartphone renewal.

Overall, we are elated to have created a unique offering in the market and to have established controlZ as a trusted and reliable brand for premium renewed smartphones

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?

Ans: We started working in this sector 3 years back and have gained an overwhelming response from the customer.

We have gross revenue of around 41 Cr. Since its inception. This year we are all set to reach around 20 crores.

Q. : What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how? 

Ans: The big picture of ControlZ is to reduce electronic waste and contribute to a more sustainable future by extending the life cycle of mobile phones. The goal is to create a circular economy for mobile devices, where they are reused, repaired, or recycled instead of ending up in landfills. By doing so, ControlZ aims to address the significant environmental impact of smartphone manufacturing and disposal. We want to establish this global ecosystem of premium smartphone renewal.

The product and services offered by ControlZ are leading to something bigger by creating awareness and encouraging a change in consumer behaviour towards more sustainable practices. By providing an alternative to buying new mobile devices, ControlZ is promoting a circular economy and reducing the demand for new smartphones. As a result, this can lead to a reduction in the environmental impact of smartphone manufacturing and electronic waste generation.

Moreover, our efforts can potentially lead to the creation of new jobs in the mobile device renewal industry. This can contribute to the development of a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself from them?

Ans: We perceive new devices in the range of 20-30k category as our competition. While there may be no players in the renewal category, we differentiate ourselves by providing devices that are as good as new and cannot be substituted with other refurbishment brands. Our focus is on establishing the renewal category as a viable alternative to purchasing new devices, and we believe that our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction will set us apart from our competitors in the under 25000 category.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share? 

Ans: Our goal for the next six months is to successfully build and launch our new facility, Renew Hub, which is the first of its kind in the pre-owned.

Renew Hub is the future of the sustainable and technologically advanced renewable industry. Our aim is to promote sustainability in the tech industry and reduce our carbon footprint while providing renewable solutions.

We aim to scale up our production capacity and reduce our prices, making our high-quality refurbished devices more affordable and accessible to consumers. To achieve this goal, we will be utilizing the best-graded machinery and implementing streamlined processes to improve efficiency and productivity. We are excited to continue driving innovation in the renewal industry and providing our customers with the best possible products and services.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?  

Ans: I’ve learned that the key to success in this field is to always think big and aim high. No matter what industry you’re in or what your goals may be, it’s important to never limit yourself or settle for mediocrity. Instead, challenge yourself to dream big and push past any obstacles that come your way. Remember that the greatest achievements in business are often the result of bold and daring ideas.

Of course, thinking big is not always easy, and it requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. But trust me when I say that the rewards are well worth the effort. When you aim high and strive to achieve greatness, you open up a world of possibilities and opportunities that you may have never thought possible.

So, my message to them is simple: never stop dreaming big, and never give up on your goals. Believe in yourself and your vision, and always keep pushing forward. With hard work, determination, and a bit of luck, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.