#Tech 25: 25 Minds on the Future of Technology
Tech 25 issue carefully curates entrepreneurs with their play in technology as an enabler for change in their respective sector
A Billionaire and his Battle for Food-Deepinder Goyal
Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato
From being a startup that just focused on scanning menus to becoming the go-to online guide for food and nightlife to mastering the art of delivery and going full throttle over food, Zomato has truly come of age in the last decade. In the rollercoaster journey, the foodtech giant has seen it all: the devaluation of the startup, the exit of the co-founder, or the bleeding wars in the overall sector. Standing in the middle of the battleground is the braveheart founder Deepinder Goyal. As his area of expetise kept expanding, Deepinder’s stand is very much clear even now. He wants to do anything and everything under the sun related to food but will not touch anything outside.
Inventor of Desi Robots-Balaji Viswanathan
Balaji Viswanathan, CEO, Invento Robotics
Balaji Viswanathan, 35, has learnt his money lessons. The Bengaluru-based robotics firm, Invento Robotics, happened only after he crossed many hurdles in more than a decade. Starting with a team of just three in 2016, Invento Robotics now employs 23 people. It plans to launch its subsidiary in Dubai.
Techie Teacher-Zishaan Hayath
Zishaan Hayath, Co-founder, Toppr
Zishaan Hayath’s IIT badge allows him to assess the technology variant of any venture. He reaped some benefits when his early investments in Ola in 2011 paid off. Toppr.com, an education-tech startup catering to students of Class 5 to 12, was launched with his batch mate Hemanth Goteti in 2013. The user engagement of Toppr was 30 minutes in 2015, which leapt to 110 minutes now. The Hyderabad-bred entrepreneur claims the number to be twice that of ed-tech unicorn Byju’s.
Disruptor-in-Chief- Ashish Kashyap
Ashish Kashyap, Founder, INDWealth
Ashish Kashyap, 45, is a first class disruptor. A decade ago, with Ibibo group, Ashish had set novel standards for the travel-tech industry, which largely determined the way it was going to operate in the future. Ashish’s recent initiative, INDWealth, is an artificial intelligence and machine learning driven wealth management and advisory platform for high net worth individuals. Tracing his inspiration, Ashish says, “It comes from a personal pain point. Over the last decade, I felt that no one was there to manage my wealth. The existing wealth management players did not use technology and I had to go to different players to give me real-time analytics pertaining to my investments, loans and future cash flow.”
Gene Genius- Sam Santosh
Sam Santosh, Founder, Medgenome
Sam Santosh was running a listed global IT behemoth, California Software (Calsoft), which he founded in 1992, at the cusp of IT revolution in the world. But, he sensed losing his passion for IT and began to explore other possibilities. The success of Human Genome Project triggered an interest. Sam recalls extensively reading on genome science for five years before quitting Calsoft and founding SciGenom in 2009. Under SciGenom, he incubated MedGenome, a genetic diagnostic and research firm, making precision medicine a reality in India.
Indian Elon Musk! And he’s just 16-Saad Nasser
Saad Nasser, Co-founder, Ati Motors
What do you make of a 14-year-old who has made the prototype of an autonomous electric vehicle alongside his co-founders who are 3-4 times his age? Well, Saad Nasser’s favorite pastime is to research on less-intricate tech archetypes. “I visited my father’s library once and instantly got engrossed in reading books,” he says. At 5, he was learning Java programming and two years hence, he had finished a book on C++. He opted to drop out of formal education system. He bagged the Intel IRIS Fair award in 2014.Saad often visited Dr V Vinay, his mentor to solve complex engineering problems where he crossed paths with Saurabh Chandra, an IIT Varanasi graduate and entrepreneur. The trio laid the foundation of Ati Motors, an autonomous electric vehicle startup in Bangalore, which has attracted the interest of giants like Anand Mahindra and Godrej.
Driver’s New Best Friend-Avneesh Agrawal
Avneesh Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Netradyne
Netradyne, with the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Edge Computing, is altering safety measures in driving. “It knows how the driver is driving, tells you when you feel distracted, falling asleep and everything else. It is pretty much like another human sitting next to the driver to guide,” says Avneesh Agrawal, Founder & CEO. Netradyne also keeps an eye on potential collisions. Fleet Management, the specialty of Netradyne, involves two branches of transportation safety – Collision Warning and Route Management. Be it assisting tired drivers after a day of hard work in long drives or any scenario that might lead to an accident, Netradyne will be sitting next to you to combat these life-threatening moments. “While collision warning assists drivers in their long drives, drivers getting distracted or drowsy, there is a fair share of chance where the driver will be in a collision. This helps drivers from the safety point of view,” explains Teja Gudena, Vice President Engineering of Netradyne. “We give 200 milliseconds to the drivers to make decisions in situations like this and can avoid a collision. Fleet safety is ensured in situations like this. It optimizes a lot of things,” he elaborates.
Simputer Scientist-Dr V Vinay
Dr V Vinay, Co-founder, Strand Life Sciences
Circa 1998, Dr Vinay Vishwanathan, a faculty member of Indian Institute of Science, was enthralled with his novel project of creating a cutting-edge computer accessible to the rural population. Vinay and his three colleagues embarked on a different path to develop Simputer, a handheld low-cost computing device. The product was embedded with an accelerometer that allowed user to move pages, zoom, or invert the screen with the flick of hand. But it did not pick pace. “If we have to execute a similar project today, I won’t touch it without getting investment of Rs 50-60 crore,” says Vinay.
Mercantile Prodigies-Abhinav Aggarwal and Raghav Aggarwal
Abhinav Aggarwal and Raghav Aggarwal, Co-founders, Fluid.AI
Who would bet on two business school dropouts with no prior background in computing, and who were unable to build their first prototype even two years after delving into it? But Fluid.AI founders and siblings, Abhinav Aggarwal and Raghav Aggarwal, are on a dream run now, with their company recently getting valuation of US$100 million.
While on a vacation in New York, they had visited a hackathon and were hooked. Initially, they were coding from home. “Vodafone deployed our product across the metros. Thereon, we grabbed the eyeballs of prominent Indian banks,” says Abhinav.
Today, at Fluid.AI’s corporate office, you will be greeted with a digital bot at the reception. They have designed a similar product for RBL Bank where a screen recognizes your face and provides loan and credit card services with just hand gestures. They built Jio Interact for Reliance, where Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan interact with users in a real-life video call.
Fintech Game-Changer-Rishi Khosla, Co-founder, OakNorth Holdings
Rishi Khosla, Co-founder, OakNorth Holdings
Rishi Khosla has been grabbing eyeballs ever since he became an advisor to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal for his equity and venture capital activities and then leading OakNorth Holdings, a fintech bank in the Queen’s land which is not just known for its billion-dollar-valuation, but also for being the quickest unicorn in the European history (within two years of launching operations). Rishi is instrumental in getting the firm a record third banking licence in the UK.
The New-age Facility Manager-Prabhu Ramachandran, Rajavel Subramanian, Yogendra Babu and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy
Prabhu Ramachandran, Rajavel Subramanian, Yogendra Babu and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy, Founders, Facilio
The Smart Buildings and Facilities Management space is undergoing rapid transformation globally, with the real estate and building management software market poised to grow to more than US$7 billion by 2022, according to research consultancy Verdantix. Facilio, a facilities management tech start-up offering the world’s first unified IoT and AI-driven facilities optimization software, was founded in 2017 by cloud and IoT veterans Prabhu Ramachandran, Rajavel Subramanian, Yogendra Babu and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy.
Music Masters-Aman Gupta & Sameer Mehta
Aman Gupta & Sameer Mehta, Co-founders, boAt
In a sector dominated by established global brands, boAt has ramped up quickly in three years, through its core high-quality audio product line of smart, efficient, stylish and durable ‘hearables’. boAt lists its products on e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and also retails offline through Croma stores.
The Texting Tapper-Sunil Thomas and Anand Jain
Sunil Thomas and Anand Jain, Co-founders, Clevertap
No matter how futuristic the product is, its success or failure is defined by the channel which delivers it to the end consumer. But how do you know which consumer would prefer the product and why are they being averse to it? Three engineers — Sunil Thomas, Anand Jain and Suresh Kondamudi— rather three musketeers, got their heads down laying foundation of Clevertap in 2013.
New Signals- Himamshu Khasnis
Himamshu Khasnis, Founder & CEO, SignalChip Innovations
Bengaluru-based Himamshu Khasnis had been instrumental in making Texas Instruments (TI) the world’s top vendor for DSL modem chips - a medium through which internet transmission is done via a cable. From 1997-2007, Himamshu defined the architecture for several chip designs and set new chipset definitions for multiple generations of DSL at TI. He says, “I realized that about 45 percent of the worldwide chips had been built in Bengaluru, but the intellectual property and the subsequent revenue remained with the USA.”
The Spacetech Guru-Kris Nair
Kris Nair, Founder, Kawa Space
With Kawa Space, Kris Nair aspires to make Space of the people, by the people and for the people. When India’s first privately owned satellite created history on December 4, 2018, the country’s first private space-tech company hogged the limelight. But Kris Nair, 35, the man who led the mission, prefers his privacy. He says, “Space industry is an unforgiving industry, and allows no room for mistakes.”
The Fortunate Trucker-Rajesh Yabaji
Rajesh Yabaji, Co-founder & CEO, BlackBuck
At ITC’s supply chain division, Rajesh Yabaji, freshly minted from IIT Kharagpur in 2010, saw a disconnect with the kind of solutions that were available in the market for transportation. As a shipper you don’t get the truck when you want, the quality that you want. The price that you pay is also very high. To solve this problem, he partnered with two of his colleagues and started BlackBuck as an Uber for trucks in 2015. The asset light technology startup solves the problems of truckers and shippers.
Digital Farmer-Krishna Kumar
Krishna Kumar, CEO & Founder, CropIn
With the vision to ‘maximize per acre value’ and to ‘make every farm traceable’, CropIn is banking on cutting-edge technologies like Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Remote Sensing. It will enable its clients to analyze and interpret data to derive real-time actionable insights on standing crop.CropIn’s unique and innovative products are currently offered in a B2B model and cater to customer segments like agri-input companies, seed production companies, government, development agencies, CSR arms, exporters, banks, insurance companies and Commodity Traders. Krishna Kumar, CEO, and Founder of CropIn, says, “With our innovative products, CropIn provides a platform that is crop and location- agnostic, local language friendly and combines data sources like satellite, field surveys, weather and ground data points.”
Flying High on Magic Lens-Gaurav Mehta and Rahat Kulshreshtha
Gaurav Mehta and Rahat Kulshreshtha, Co-founders, Quidich
Five years back, when drones were almost unheard of, Gaurav Mehta, with his co-founder Rahat Kulshreshtha, started Quidich Innovation Labs essentially an aerial filming company. Today, it is India’s only drone organization to fly all 360 degrees.
The Intelligent Avatar-Chaitanya Hiremath
Chaitanya Hiremath, Founder, Scanta
Have you ever imagined a scenario where a 3D character is able to interpret and animate the WhatsApp message you want to send to someone before communicating the same to the receiver with the desired emotion? Sounds like a scene right out of a sci-fi film? Not for Scanta, which is working to build the required algorithms that allow these avatars to interpret speech. The startup is aiming to integrate machine learning with augmented reality to develop modern and immersive forms of communication.
The Big Daily Grocer-Anant Goel
Anant Goel, Milkbasket
Built on the unique Indian habit of getting fresh milk delivered at home every morning, Milkbasket fulfills the entire grocery needs of a household every day before 7:00 a.m. Milkbasket, the new age tech platform to enable frequent and frictionless buying, has innovated milk run model, one-click buying, no checkout and contactless delivery - all a first in the e-commerce industry. It reaches over 63,000 households daily. The firm’s vision is to become the default mom & pop shop for over a million households in the next 3-5 years. Having achieved positive unit economics within the first six months of the launch, Milkbasket is the most capital efficient model in the online grocery space as compared to its domestic and global peers. Founded by Anant Goel, Ashish Goel, Anurag Jain and Yatish Talvadia, Milkbasket delivers only in select areas while expanding its network with new launches every week.
The Ace App Builder-Sachin Duggal
Sachin Duggal, Founder & CEO of Engineer.ai
At the age of 14, Sachin ended up accidentally breaking his mother’s computer. Afraid of her reaction, he researched relentlessly until he put the system back together to perfect form. One thing led to another and he established a small PC business at the age of 14. In the following years, Sachin ventured into software and, at the age of 17, he joined Deutsche Bank as their youngest employee ever. He lasted there for five years. Later, he founded Shoto - a photo and video service that brings together all digital memories under one roof, including the ones missed out - using AI and Facial Recognition.
Riding High on Car Search-Amit Jain
Amit Jain, Co-Founder, CarDekho
Amit Jain co-founded the Jaipur-based IT outsourcing firm Girnar Software in 2007 along with his brother Anurag Jain, both graduated from IIT Delhi. The idea of Cardekho.com, the flagship portal of GirnarSoft, clicked after a visit to auto expo in 2008. Its investors include Google Capital, Tybourne Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital, HDFC Bank, Ratan Tata and Times Internet.
The Sole Maker-Arunan Arivalagan
Arunan Arivalagan, Co-founder, Shapecrunch
After working with big medical device players - Medtronic, Zimmer, Smith & Nephew, J&J - in the spine, hips, knees, and trauma implant divisions, Arunan Arivalagan left the USA to start his journey in making custom orthotics via 3D printing. Shapecrunch is a healthcare AI and 3D printing startup that makes custom 3D printed insoles by scanning the feet with just three pictures on the smartphone app. The application and solution has enabled hundreds of specialists - podiatrists, orthopedics, physiotherapists, chiropractors - across the world to offer foot solutions.
New-age Guide to Lenders-Mayank Tewari and Prerit Srivastava
Mayank Tewari and Prerit Srivastava, StreamSource Technologies
Call it Internet 2.0 or Web 3.0, blockchain is here to stay and disrupt several redundant processes. In fact, it is widely dubbed that 2019 is the year of blockchain startups. Streamsource, which was founded by Mayank Tewari and Prerit Srivastava last year, has raised $1 million from Accel Partners. The startup operates a private blockchain platform based on Quorum which allows the lenders to access potential borrower data with data privacy in mind. But Streamsource didn’t happen to Tewari and Srivastava in a flash.
The Digital Master Blaster-Rajan Navani
Rajan Navani, MD, Jetsynthesys
In a bid to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing scenario of gaming and digital entertainment, Jetline Group went through a complete transformation to build personalized solutions for the young and mobile-friendly consumer class. The result is Jetsynthesys, the digital entertainment and gaming company.
Jetsynthesys thrives on the ABCD of India - Astrology, Bollywood, and Cricket & Devotion.
(This article was first published in the May issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)