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Why This Startup Was The Chosen One To Visit Silicon Valley with PM Modi

Why This Startup Was The Chosen One To Visit Silicon Valley with PM Modi
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Barely a year old startup, Leaf Wearables has been able to create some buzz in the country. The reason could be either smart safety wearable device, SAFER on one side and recent funding of $250,000 secured from seasoned investors on the other side.

Founded by five IIT Delhi graduates, Avinash Bansal, Ayush Banka, Chiraag Kapil, Manik Mehta, and Paras Batra – when they were still in college last year, Leaf Wearable is approaching the safety of women elegantly. They have developed a smart safety wearable device, SAFER, a jewellery-embedded app which can be used to trigger alarm and send signals to pre-identified phone numbers in case of emergency.

The startup was the chosen one amongst the top 10 innovative startups in India by Department of Science and Technology who accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Silicon Valley to participate in first India-U.S. Startup Konnect.

Entrepreneur India  caught up with Chiraag Kapil, Director, BD & Co-founder, Leaf Wearables and talked about the innovation they brought through technology, the customer’s response and how did they manage to gain the PM Modi attention.

What was it that attracted the investors to your business?

The investors’ trust for us, the team of five Co-founders, Avinash Bansal, Ayush Banka, Manik Mehta, Paras Batra including me encouraged them to invest in Leaf. The sheer synergy and bonding between the Co-founders was the motivator. Moreover, our vision of safe and connected world and capabilities in the hardware, design and software brought the right set of investors on board.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge I have faced was the uncertainty that enveloped the hardware development. I still remember putting huge sums of our saved money on hardware prototyping and its immediate failure soon after, which not only wasted huge sums of personal financial investment but also made us begin from scratch. If I analyse the situation today, beginning from square one made all the change.

My personal style of addressing challenges is by way of a ‘lockdown’. When the company faces threats or dangers, I make sure we all go under lockdown and do not leave the room until we have a solution. This obviously follows healthy discussions and a lot of brainstorming with multiple cases formation.

Since yours is a startup, how’s the office culture coming along? How many people do you have in your team?

We have a team of 11 members (ten humans and a pet dog named ‘Google’; he’s named after the search engine because he is very efficient in searching for things). We believe in working together and staying focused on improving our end product. We work hard and party hard, from dinner outings to table tennis games, to enjoying music and everything that defines us as a team.

What has been the high point for the business?

Leaf Wearables was chosen amongst the top 10 innovative startups in India by Department of Science and Technology. We accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Silicon Valley to participate in first India-US Startup Konnect (September 2015).

Separately, every day comes with many a-ha moments in our business. It is always surprising to see how and in what ways people use your products. The insights always keep us wondering and wanting to further improve our product. For instance, the time when we decided to embed our technology into daily wearable jewellery and pendants and the realisation that we would have to make it modular so people can replace it and put it in different accessories at will and make it truly wearable. That was certainly a high point of my journey and for the business.

What are your future plans?

We work to solve the problem of safety crisis around us and innovate to make this world a safer place to live, learn and work in. We are on a mission to make 1 million families SAFER by 2017.

Edition: December 2016

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