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Upliance has become viral after Shark Tank debut: CEO Mahek Mody

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Mannu Mathew
Mannu Mathew
With over four years of experience, Mannu Mathew specializes in business journalism with a focus on technology, the retail sector, D2C, and E-commerce brands. He is working as the Assistant Editor for India Retailing and Images Retail Magazine.

CEO of smart appliance maker Upliance.ai Mahek Mody on life after Shark Tank India, lessons learnt and plans

New Delhi: After its debut on Shark Tank India, Bengaluru-based AI-powered home appliance company Upliance.ai has witnessed a viral trend across online platforms with a key focus on the customer community and digital key opinion leaders (KOLs), a top company executive told IndiaRetailing.

“Our website traffic also witnessed a 13x rise in unique visitors. Social media engagement increased, with 120x growth in monthly gained followers on Instagram and a spike on our YouTube channel,” said Mahek Mody, co-founder and chief executive officer, of upliance.ai.

“This national platform generated a lot of excitement and propelled us into the spotlight. It was pretty nerve-wracking but ultimately a rewarding opportunity to secure funding and showcase the upliance to a broader Indian audience,” added Mody.

IndiaRetailing had earlier reported on how the company has been using cutting-edge technologies like Generative AI to increase customer retention and enhance customer experience.

In an interaction with IndiaRetailing, Mahek Mody shares his views on the AI-based home automation solutions market, the Shark Tank India experience and the lessons learnt.
Edited Excerpts:
How much funds have you raised until now and how do you plan to use them?

We have recently secured a funding round that significantly boosted our valuation to ₹143 crore ($17 million). This investment fuels our mission to make cooking delicious and healthy meals accessible to everyone in India. We’ve seen incredible growth, with sales surging by 243% following our appearance on Shark Tank India. We’re excited to leverage these resources to expand our reach and presence in the country. This includes scaling production to meet demand and establishing a wider retail presence with over 10,000 stores and 30 experience centres.

How do you plan to reduce your current cash burn?

Our focus is on increasing revenue, increasing sales which shall ultimately drive profitability company-wide. Our recent funding and the surge in sales following Shark Tank India are positive indicators. As we expand to capitalise on the increased website and social media traffic post-Shark Tank and boost product sales, we expect to see a significant decrease in our cash burn.

How do you plan to work on the advice from sharks?

We are going to continue what we are doing and work on finer points. We are on a mission to make cooking healthy food at home accessible to every household in India. And to do that, our customers serve as our true north. upliance.ai has a highly engaged owners’ community. We listen to them actively and are committed to incorporating their inputs into our product evolution. By continuously refining our offerings and introducing fresh features and recipes tailored to their needs, we ensure that our journey aligns closely with the aspirations of every household we serve.

What was the reason for not accepting Peyush Bansal’s offer?

When someone values us, they are putting a price on the scale of the impact we can have on Indian households. We got offered a deal by Peyush Bansal from Lenskart, but we declined it in the end because we did not align on the valuation. Our ask was Rs 1 crore for 1% equity, but the deal wasn’t fulfilled so we decided to pass it.

This decision proved to work out in our favour as shortly after our Shark Tank appearance, we successfully secured Rs 34 crore (over $4 million) in seed funding. This funding round, led by Khosla Ventures, validated our valuation at Rs 143 crore. Thus, our adherence to our valuation principles ultimately paved the way for a more favourable funding outcome.

How was 2023-2024 in terms of revenue and sales?

Upliance.ai closed its pre-seed funding round of $1.5 million in 2022, with participation from Zerodha’s funding arm – Rainmatter, Rukam Capital, Draper Associates, co-founders of Ather Energy and Unacademy, as well as mini angel investors.

Deliveries of upliance began in January 2023, with 750 units getting sold within nine months of its launch. It is currently priced at around Rs 23,999, positioned as an accessible AI-enabled cooking assistant for modern Indian homes.

With accolades such as being the first runners-up in Qualcomm’s Design in India Challenge, the company continues to garner attention and investment interest, paving the way for a promising future in India’s smart home appliances sector.

How do you aim to enhance GenAI implementation?

We aim to leverage the latest advancements in artificial intelligence to make upliance intuitive and customisable to make cooking at home a seamless experience truly. We will further refine our algorithms to improve new recipe generation and enable more customisation and personalisation of existing recipes.

For example, adjusting spice levels, replacing ingredients, and adding your unique twist to existing recipes will become the norm with this AI cooking assistant. Improving on features like meal planning, recipe suggestions, multilingual recipes, and voice activation, are some of the things we are excited about.

Our goal is to simplify cooking while offering innovative solutions, ultimately empowering users to enjoy seamless culinary experiences with upliance.

How do you see 2024 with investors coming on board?

Anticipating significant growth in 2024 and beyond, our focus remains firmly on expanding our reach and impact in the market. With investors now on board following our successful seed round with Khosla Ventures of Rs 34 Crores, we are well funded into 2026.

You started with a single product, what are the product expansion plans in the future?

At upliance.ai, our journey began with a single product, but our vision extends far beyond. This includes scaling production to meet demand and establishing a wider retail presence with over 10,000 stores and 30 experience centres across India.

What would be your omnichannel strategy going forward?

At upliance.ai, our omnichannel strategy moving forward revolves around expanding our presence across various online marketplaces and retail stores throughout India. We will also increase our availability in physical stores, catering to customers who prefer the in-store shopping experience. We also look forward to implementing a robust distribution network to ensure a seamless supply chain, enabling our products to reach customers efficiently across India.

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