In an interview with All Things Talent, Amit Khatri, Co-founder, Noise reflects on the rising hiring challenges and how Noise manages to overcome them while continuing to attract, engage, retain, and sustain employees. He also talks about the importance of soft skills and how hiring for attitude over experience has benefitted Noise.
Could you give us an overview of Noise’s market presence, growth in terms of business, workforce, and a few key learnings?
According to IDC’s latest data, the Indian wearable market grew by 93.8 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) in Q3 of 2021 with a total of 23.8 million units shipped during the quarter. The demand for wearable and hearable products has been rising consistently and today we are proud to claim that Noise is the market leader in the smartwatch category in India. We are also part of the top 10 best global smartwatch brands which also includes the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei along with others.
As a homegrown bootstrapped D2C brand that was relatively new in the market in 2014, we aimed at offering the best products at the right price to our consumers. Today, we have expanded our presence to over 8000 offline outlets and have witnessed close to 17X growth in the last 30 months. We led the market in 2021 with a 27 percent share and over 278 percent y-o-y growth in the smartwatch category. The wearable and hearable market is set to grow in the upcoming quarters and we aim to rake in Rs 850 crore net revenue in FY22.
It was just Gaurav and I when we started our Noise journey back in 2014, but today we are a team of 275 Noisemakers who are working very hard to make more Noise and keep growing in the industry.
In terms of the wearable industry, are there any challenges that plague the sector to find the right talent and skillsets?
During the pandemic, organisations had to let go of people and many of them had stopped hiring for some time. Considering how volatile the market has been, every organisation has been facing challenges to hire as candidates have multiple offers. At Noise, we were actively hiring during the pandemic and were able to give our new employees a sense of security and stability, we also made sure our existing employees received their appraisals on time. We are focusing on candidate experience in a major way and are ensuring that we keep them engaged between the offer stage till the joining date and even beyond.
The manufacturing sector couldn’t really take refuge in remote working during the pandemic. How have things been at Noise’s end? Has there been any key update to the company’s policies to accommodate the same?
As a company, we ensured there were no pay cuts for any of our employees and we continued to hire even during the lockdown period. We always had doctors on call for our employees and tried to help the ones in need with respirators and medical care. Instituting Covid leaves was a mandatory measure to make sure that the team doesn’t feel the pressure of missing out on work due to the illness. We did come up with a work from home policy for the employees. However, being a young and energetic team, we needed to work as a cohesive unit and collaborate, hence a hybrid model has worked best for us. They also had the option of working remotely for flexible hours during the pandemic. In addition to Covid-specific leaves, we worked on more flexible health insurance plans to give peace of mind to our employees. We had created a dedicated Covid support team internally who prioritised the requirements of our team members and were able to offer support to a lot of our team members in need.
“We did come up with a work from home policy for the employees. However, being a young and energetic team, we needed to work as a cohesive unit and collaborate, hence a hybrid model has worked best for us. They also had the option of working remotely for flexible hours during the pandemic.”
What would be Noise’s talent acquisition policies for 2022? Please mention the skills you are looking for and the roles you would want to fill this year.
We have always been a consumer-first brand, and as we grow into international markets and expand the reach to different geographies, we are looking at strengthening the growth teams that can help us scale to newer categories and spearhead the brand into these new markets. Our focus for the year is to add more members to the senior leadership team so that we can continue to expand to more markets in the future. We are currently looking for strategy and lateral positions at Noise. Green jobs are a work in progress at Noise. It is part of our long-term plans for the future.
Could you please mention a few HR tech innovations that Noise has initiated and what would be your future plans for the same?
We wanted to ensure a seamless experience for our employees to deal with the company’s processes. HRIS (Human Resources Information System) is a software solution that maintains, manages, and processes detailed employee information and human resources-related policies and procedures. We also use ATS (Application Tracking System) to proactively communicate better with our new candidates and to keep them informed on the updates. We want to focus on engagement and gamification tech innovations in the future to make the work environment more fun for our employees.
In terms of recruitment, what are your hiring ambitions for this year? Are there any plans of expanding and scaling up in new geographies?
Currently, our team is 275 people strong. We are aiming to have close to 400 Noisemakers as part of the company by the end of 2022. We are scaling up and expanding our business to different geographies across the globe and are looking to enter new categories in these markets.
How does Noise address the diversity and inclusion concerns of the industry in general and the brand in particular? Any stats that you can share in terms of women, disabled employees, or LGBTQ+ members in the workforce?
As an organisation, we aim to give equal opportunities to everyone that is a part of the company. At Noise, the average age of employees is 28 and over 30 percent of our workforce consists of women. We are open to accepting anyone who has the qualities of a Noisemaker irrespective of their political beliefs, race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, class, and/or gender identity differences.
A new trend that you see shaping up in the coming days in terms of recruitment in the sector?
Soft skills are one of the most important qualities every recruiter looks for in a new employee. As the domain itself is very new and evolving, the talent pool is extremely restricted, and finding relatability has been quite challenging. We have been hiring for intellect and attitude rather than relevant experience and that has worked quite well for us.
Year of Incorporation: 2014
Number of Employees: 275
Founders: Amit Khatri & Gaurav Khatri
Key Executives: Utsav Malhotra (Chief Operating Officer), Anubhav Gupta (Vice President – Wearables and New Categories), Shalabh Gupta (Chief Growth Officer)
Business Line: Noise is a leading Indian tech brand that makes the latest wearable and hearable products easily accessible and mass aspirational
Hiring Pipeline: Aim at reaching 400 employees by the end of 2022. We are currently looking for strategy and lateral positions at Noise.
Workforce Growth: 30-40 percent in 3 years
Key HR Factors: Average tenure at Noise is 2.5 years; Continuous growth journey