INDIA: The latest episode of Smart Entrepreneurship Decoded hosted by Transcontinental Times had Anand Sundararaj, CEO at KoDwell Technology talk about his journey of producing a technological wearable device that did not work out quite well, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise in the form of another innovative business.
In one of the previous episodes, we saw how India does not have an innovation culture or a strong R and D base or how India creates more services as compared to products. In an episode with Ravikiran Prabhakar, the lapse in creating a product and how most products don’t make it to the market was thoroughly discussed.
Despite the lack of infrastructure and the time period it takes into making and selling a product, some determined, make it till the end. One such braveheart is Anand Sundararaj.
Journey of the wearable device – watch
“We started our journey in 2012, i.e. the R&D to make a wearable technology or watch. We had built an AI out of wearable devices and we had three cameras set up. We wanted to bring a revolution in the sense that whenever there is a kind of medical emergency, the system or technology should be in place, where more lives can be saved with a wearable,” said Sundararaj.
Sundararaj’s team had built sensors that had more than 325 data, but when they pitched their idea, nobody was convinced that you could talk to a machine or wearable device. The watch – a risk nobody was willing to take back then, basis on which the world is functioning today, but as Sundararaj said, “their idea was way ahead of time, so nobody thought that the future would be based on that technology.”
At the beginning stages of a startup, you don’t have funding, so you have to convince your team to have the same kind of passion or belief as you, to visualize in the same manner. Everything started on a piece of paper, the team saw multiple failures in the process. So keeping the R&D team and engineers motivated while hearing from big companies that ‘our idea was not possible,’ was the bigger journey, said the Indian entrepreneur.
“We did not have investors or enough funds, we only had the R&D team and a vision. So the entire journey was about determination and passion,” Sundararaj said in the interview.
Success from the seed of failure
In 2016, wearable devices made their way into the market, but Sundararaj’s team was yet struggling with funds. However, they had not only built technology based on wearables but they also had built tech based on telecommunication, so that one is able to communicate with the device even when there is no cellular network. “Our forte was technology and we kept building on that.”
“We also tried crowdfunding which was our last hope, to take our product ahead. But by then the market was already full of wearables and technology. It was then we decided to bring technology in the market, but in a different form.”
The team then came up with the kiosk, which was based on the technology of the watch that they had already built.
The KoDwell Kiosk innovation
From the technology of the wearable watch, KoDwell Kiosk was born. The product is based on the Wood Wide Web system. This system works beneath the ground where trees and plants communicate with minerals and nutrients, working the ecosystem.
Today, phones, computers, applications or such technology have reached their optimum limit, after which a technology leap can be expected, the basis on which the kiosk is made.
“We build this kiosk which will be in public spaces which will act as internet through maybe interactive screens. This kiosk is a tool for city planners, so based on city needs, you can have it configured and customized. For eg, in hilly areas with frequent natural calamities, this system proactively gives climate alerts, so that people can take precautions.
The kiosk has also given the government a sustainable program, so it brings revenue for the government as well. “So the government is just paying us in advance to build the infrastructure, they achieve their break-even in 9 to 12 months.”
“I am always doing some or the other research, but the next project which I already have started working on is environmental science. Reducing carbon credit, getting them offsets, that is the concept we are working on. It has been 3 to 4 years now I have been researching this. My wife and I have started this together,” Sundararaj stated.
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