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How CREO Snapped Funding From Top League Investors Smartphone market is like a fish market today, there is no differentiating factor between products.

By Sneha Banerjee

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Days after CREO launched its Android based Operating System ­ FUEL OS which, powers a top ­of ­the ­line smartphone ­Mark 1, Entrepreneur Media spoke to Co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas on how his team and product amassed the attention of top league investors. CREO's in-house developed hardware and software, together boast of a new phone, every month experience.

Bengaluru-based CREO is backed by a handsome pack of investors which includes Sequoia Capital, Beenext Ventures, Snapdeal's Anand Chandrasekaran. and India Quotient. Formerly known as Mango Man Consumer Electronics Pvt. Ltd., CREO's first product offering was Teewe – an HDMI media streaming device.

Getting the right investor onboard

Srinivas believes that anyone who is trying to build an idea that does not have any precedence in the industry needs to pitch the best case scenario to his investors. Any investor will want to know only the best case scenario for the product. Srinivas also said that it's very important for a startup to present a credible and capable team before the investors.

Srinivas said that it is very important for a startup, especially one dealing with technology, to have an investor onboard who understands the domain. "We are not running a hyperlocal or an ecommerce platform where the business can be explained on an Excel sheet. In companies like ours, returns can become very disproportional at times. It is very important for an investor to understand that good products will take time to come out in the market."

Talking about angel investors, Srinivas said that the good part about being an angel is that they do not fund with a specific motive. They also help you understand the macro-economic situations.

The advantages of having a credible team

Srinivas believes that he happened to get very lucky when it came to forming a sturdy and credible team. Most of his co-workers are people with whom he had worked previously. His co-workers include professionals from successful and esteemed companies such as Hike Messenger, Zynga and Capillary Technologies, to name a few.

"I can vouch for the credibility and effort for most of my team." At CREO, most of the hiring is done via internal reference. They do not have an HR team to take care of it. The team believes that the best way to recruit talented workforce is to know them through your own network.

Srinivas said that most of his co-workers today can walk out of the company and get a much higher paycheck elsewhere. The fact that they decided to stay back at CREO and opted for stock over salary goes to show their sincerity and belief in the product.

Justifying the price quoted

Srinivas acknowledged the apprehensions in the market about the price of the smartphone considering they were making it for the first time. However, he strongly believes that good products come at a good price and in the months to come the new features in the phone will completely justify the quoted figure.

Inspiration behind the product

Srinivas said that the smartphone market today is like a vegetable market where there is no differentiating factor between the products. CREO's operating system is primarily devised to do what other phones cannot do.

"The android phones today occupy 80 percent of the market with absolutely no innovation. We felt, why not create a phone that offers something new every month", he said.

The company launched the smartphone on April 13 and it's already ready with the first set of upgrades scheduled to take place on May 13.

Sneha Banerjee

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

She used to write for Entrepreneur India from Bangalore and other cities in South India. 

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