Aarthi Ramamurthy, Founder and CEO, Lumoid
Where did you get the inspiration to launch your company?
The idea for Lumoid brewed up when I worked at Netflix. My primary role there was to work with various consumer electronics companies to enable Netflix streaming on their devices. I realized that the consumer electronics market was booming, but the retail experience hadn’t really changed. So, in a way, working on Xbox and Netflix made me familiar with various electronics and how consumers adopted them, and that was tremendously helpful while starting Lumoid.
What was the “ah-ha moment” when you realized you might have a successful business?
A few months after we launched Lumoid, we started receiving handwritten thank-you cards and notes. I’d never seen anything like that before. We would get these really long letters from our customers thanking us for the service, and how it helped their business or their trip, etc. As a very small company back then, I think it was our first real sense of “Hmm, we *may* have something good here!”
What was the pivotal marketing campaign or channel that really catapulted the business in its early days?
When we started Lumoid, we didn’t really have a big budget for marketing campaigns. The one channel that really worked was referrals from existing customers. It took a while, but our initial customers told their friends and family about us and word started getting around. That, in combination with the initial launch press, really helped us.
How are you planning to scale your business?
We’ve set up a few partnerships along the way that are helping us scale the business. For example, we just partnered with several hotels, like the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, to provide a series of drone workshops for their guests.
Can you tell us about a successful initiative your company launched in the last year?
We recently partnered with Best Buy to provide a “try before you buy” service for the retailer’s customers. Best Buy is the largest consumer electronics retailer, and so far the initiative has been very successful.
What are your goals for the business for the remainder of 2017 and then for 2018?
We want to expand geographically and open more Lumoid locations so that customers can easily pick up items from us. We want to scale our various partnership efforts. We also want to launch the next category of gadgets on our website. There’s a lot to accomplish!
What types of retail technology are you watching closely and/or thinking of implementing within your company?
Same-day delivery is something that we’d like to implement for our customers, since there’s high demand for “instant gratification.” We’re also looking at different ways to connect with the customer and be available for them when they need us — e.g., communicating with customers via live chat and instant messenger solutions.
What is your hiring strategy?
We tend tend to hire people who can be described as generalists — i.e., willing to wear multiple hats and who tend to enjoy the challenge of working in a fast-moving startup.
Tell us about your leadership style.
My leadership style is constantly evolving; I don’t have a singular “style” yet. I tend to set a high performance bar for myself and everyone I work with, and that comes with its own merits and challenges. I’ve still yet to gain a lot of experience as a leader, and it’s been a continuous learning process on what’s working and what isn’t.
What can traditional retailers learn from your business?
That it’s possible to optimize for customer happiness and profitability at the same time. We started Lumoid to solve a very specific problem for our customers, and in the process we’ve been able to build a successful business. It’s easy to believe that delighting customers comes at a specific price, but that doesn’t have to be true in all cases.
Can you tell us the technology systems and service providers you’re working with in your technology stack?
We’ve custom built our website and back-end systems for inventory management and other functions. However, we rely on many services like Amazon Web Services and Stripe, as well as solutions like Zendesk and Olark, to interact with our customers.
Aarthi Ramamurthy, Founder and