At a time when people are “owning less and renting more", where some of the biggest companies in the world are Uber and Airbnb, tech companies that don’t even own what they offer, we’re seeing limitless innovation in utilising the subscription business model across different categories and industries. From furniture and CFOs to chefs and beyond, any service or product is now available for rent.
LivLyt, a UAE-based company launched in March of this year, has taken this philosophy and applied it to consumer tech, creating what they’re calling a device-as-a-service business model.
Essentially, LivLyt allows both consumers and businesses to rent electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles on a monthly subscription basis.
Clients can rent devices for a starting period of 3 months, upwards to 18 months, and have the flexibility to upgrade, renew a subscription or buy out a device at the end of their subscription period, enabling the consumer to experience using an expensive device like the iPhone 14 without having to commit to a large upfront payment, especially if they did not like the product. Additionally, LivLyt’s products are covered by an accidental damage guarantee that covers 80% of potential repair fees. This means clients don’t have to worry about everyday wear and tear, scratches, and screen breaks.
Today, LivLyt’s business model remains the only one of its kind in the UAE, and in less than a year, the company has already deployed more than hundreds of thousand of dollars’ worth of devices in the country. The company's device subscription business model has also attracted the attention of investors, as the company has raised a pre-seed round of an undisclosed amount from marquee angels from the MENA region’s tech ecosystem and senior executives from Careem and Etisalat.
Atul Bansal, LivLyt Co-Founder and CEO, has shared insights about his company with the Abu Dhabi SME Hub.
How did the idea behind LivLyt come about, and what market gap were you trying to address?
Arvind (Arvind Einstein, company Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer) and I met and spent almost 5 years at Careem and experienced firsthand how sharing economy models improved the lives of people, enabling their access to transportation, without the need to own a car ever. We could see a clear shift in consumer habits, from ownership and adoption of sharing economy products like Spotify for entertainment, Airbnb for staying, and Careem for mobility.
However, we soon realised that ownership still is the only way to experience any consumer tech product, like buying the latest iPhone to use it.
We all love, need, and use the latest tech, may it be the iPhone 14, gadgets like PlayStation, or laptops, for individual or business consumption. But, today, the problem is that for a consumer, the only way to use any of these devices is to buy them - via cash, instalments, or even BNPL.
Additionally, buying tech, which is a depreciating asset, has become expensive, requires capital commitment, and is unsustainable for our planet especially, with the launch of new models every year. And not to forget the hassle of selling or discarding old devices to upgrade to the latest model, with the concerns of data privacy and security.
There was no solution in the market that allowed consumers to use tech without committing to making a purchase.
We identified this market gap and launched LivLyt, to enable consumers to subscribe to the latest devices they love, but without the hassles of ownership.
LivLyt’s mission is to make great tech accessible for everyone while empowering users to “Live’ an asset ‘Lyt’ life.
Can you tell us a bit about your business model and how it works exactly?
We offer the latest smartphones, laptops, and gadgets to individuals and businesses, via affordable and flexible monthly subscriptions.
We make it really easy to access the latest tech through a simple three-step process: Select the device listed on our platform, chose your subscription plan, starting from 3 months and up to 18, and pay monthly subscription fees online. And that’s it: the device is delivered for free for the customer to use.
All our subscription plans come with free accidental damage cover, which means customers don’t have to worry about any scratches, screen breaks, and repairs for the device
We let customers ‘Enjoy Now, Decide Later,' - which means they have the flexibility to return, renew, upgrade, or even buy out the devices at the end of the plan.
Our business model is based on the circular economy fundamentals, which means - we work on maximising the use of the device, through multiple cycles, and making it more affordable for anyone to access the latest tech.
All our devices are sourced from authorised suppliers of OEMs like Apple, Samsung, etc and come with warranty coverage.
As for our clients, LivLyt is enabling access to the latest tech, through subscriptions for both consumers and businesses.
We have already deployed over a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of devices in UAE. For consumers, we are also live in popular electronic retailers, offering in-store device subscriptions at the points of sale. And for businesses, we are proudly solving the problem of IT Capex for early-stage startups. LivLyt has partnered with Hub71, WeWork, In5, and DEEL to offer our ‘Device-as-a-Service’ product to their resident & portfolio startups.
How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey so far? Any particular challenges you've faced or lessons you've learned?
It has been a rollercoaster ride, especially with launching and building a new category like device subscriptions in the region.
Our experience at Careem coached and groomed us well to launch, test, and scale tech products for MENA. And, now as founders, we are learning what it takes to build great businesses; getting the right talent on board, building a strong customer value proposition, and having a clear purpose all matter.
How has being part of the in5 business incubator supported your company so far?
We got in early into In5, and the incubator made it super easy for us to get off the ground, with support in company set-up, as well as legal and admin-related tasks.
We love being part of a vibrant community of founders and startups that are solving problems for the region. We get to learn a lot from other startups, and often fast-track decision-making, based on the experiences of others.
In5 also gave us a great platform to share the LivLyt story and product with the wider startup community in the UAE. We were one of the seven startups showcased by In5 at GITEX this year.
We are very thankful to In5 for how they have supported LivLyt so far.
Looking ahead, what trajectory will the company have to take to scale its operations — any particular priorities you're focused on?
We are growing and experiencing strong demand for our device subscriptions in UAE. Recently, we have also started to receive organic inbound demand from startups in KSA as well, looking to leverage our device-as-a-service offering for their teams.
LivLyt’s short-term focus is to scale device subscriptions in the UAE and build the product infrastructure for the region’s first subscription commerce platform.
We are also working on accelerating our partnerships with offline retailers and B2B platforms and onboarding more businesses for our ‘device-as-a-service’ offering.