Casetify’s CEO and co-founder Wesley Ng on building a successful start-up from Hong Kong to worldwide acclaim
Scroll through your Instagram feed, and you're bound to see Casetify's phone cases in the reflection of a sea of mirror selfies — some even by famous grids. Spotted in the clutches of celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Shay Mitchell, Casetify has become one of the most prominent tech accessories brand across the globe. The brand allows you to personalise your phone creatively without sacrificing quality with its monthly new products, major brand collaborations, and avant garde designs. Offering optimal drop protection and impact resistance, Casetify's customisation options even extend to the type of protective casing you require. With exclusive collaborations and partnerships amongst cult-worthy brands such as Pokémon, Coca Cola, and DHL, it is safe to say that Casetify is the world's fastest growing tech accessories brand.
It all began as a humble start-up in Hong Kong, when co-founder and CEO Wesley Ng was simply seeking for a protective yet stylish phone case for his then new iPhone. Unable to come across any, he decided to create his own interactive platform (then named Casetagram) where one can design their phone case from scratch by adding Instagram photos. This idea took off, and now the global brand isn't just an interactive platform that allows one to personalise their phone cases, but also a worldwide leading lifestyle brand in customisable products.
Ng cites Instagram as a key for Casetify's success. "Social media is one of the most important parts of the Casetify user experience," he tells us in an interview. "It doesn't hurt that we're what some people call an 'Instagram Brand'. Not only was our flagship product inspired by the social media platform itself, but we identified the networking site as an extraordinary tool to connect with a global audience pretty early on."
Before most influencers could even find their voice, Casetify had already tapped into the power of social media to form a global brand. With an impressively growing 1.9 million followers and an Instagram feed that often features well-loved celebrities and influencers such as Elsa Hosk and Addison Rae, this is one team that certainly knows how to build a successful social media marketing strategy. Which happens to be a key ingredient for success that many brands and start-ups overlook. "Collectively, we have millions of followers from all over the world tuning into our posts, so it's important to have our dedicated teams fostering these relationships with influencers and social media users alike," Ng says. "So many people are constantly plugged into their phones, so we have to consider that someone's first impression of the brand may begin on Instagram."
The power of Instagram has also propelled the tech accessories brand into not just a successful global e-commerce platform, but also retail partnerships and the opening of several brick-mortar-stores. "Contrary to popular belief, the retail game is not dead," Ng says. "We're in talks to expand the brick-and-mortar stores to more locations around the world." On opening retail stores in other parts of Asia besides Hong Kong, Ng teases, "I have my eye on some spots in Asia where we can really see shoppers enjoying the Casetify experience. You'll have to stay tuned to see where we're popping up next." Below, Ng shares more tips and advice on growing successfully from a start-up to a worldwide acclaimed brand.
As a start-up, how important is diversifying your team?
Diversity is a key ingredient to Casetify's growth. Being a global brand, our team members' unique experiences and perspectives are crucial to connecting our products with so many markets. This goal also extends outside of our company culture, as we're proud to work with a diverse group of up-and-coming artists through our collaborations program. It's important to us that our brand identity resonates with people all over the world, because we believe everyone has the right to express themselves.
How big is your design team?
Since creativity is the core of our brand, we invest a lot of resources into designing and developing our products in-house. We have teams in APAC and Los Angeles working together to make these releases happen.
How does Casetify's B2C business model work, and how much would you encourage other start-ups to do the same?
Casetify is primarily a B2C (business-to-consumer) operation. We have a great amount of pride in our products, and there's no one who can tell our story better than us. Keeping our brand direct-to-consumer, we've been able to work quickly and efficiently in introducing the most innovative products in our industry. Brands who rely on retail channels aren't afforded that same type of flexibility and control. Over the years we've seen the DTC (direct-to-consumer) brand trend growing, so it's safe to say that this type of business model will be around for a long time.
Casetify has diversified its products from phone cases to watch bands in light of the recent pandemic, UV sanitisers and reusable face masks. What exciting news can we expect from Casetify next?
Over the years, we have successfully shifted from a tech accessory brand to a destination for lifestyle products. We're constantly testing and developing new ways to express yourself through your gear, and we're excited to introduce new collections very soon. You can expect the same custom elements you know and love from us, but incorporated in a whole new way.
Any word of advice to give to start-ups and entrepreneurs on building a successful brand in a saturated market?
Find out what sets you apart from the competition and stay true to your mission. Markets are oversaturated with copycats and cheap products. If you take pride in what you bring to the table, then you don't need to worry about being overshadowed by the competition. Customers appreciate authenticity and quality over anything else, so those should be key ingredients to every part of your business.