Unlike most visits to the Startup Village at Kochi, this visit proved more interesting than before. The products that were presented were not only innovative but were symbolic of several hardships and tough choices. Entrepreneurs Sunoj and Vibhin share their startup experiences. As they take us through their journey, both of them state the Startup Village has been supportive in many ways. They said that the Startup Village has not only helped them in with regards to funds, but also by providing a platform to learn from failures without massive losses.
'Geniuses' working towards a safer tomorrow
Security systems have been one of the most debated topics in recent times. It is the most essential need of the hour. Incubated at the Startup Village, Geniocode Inc is one company that is striving towards a safer and happier tomorrow. Founded by Sunoj Antony, the firm currently has 7 employees. Interestingly, Sunoj's wife, who is a lawyer by profession, is also a part of the firm.
Humble and honest beginnings
Sunoj's story could be traced back to the days of the IT boom in India. Like many aspiring engineers from Kerala during that period, Sunoj was keen on pursuing his higher education in the Information Technology. His desire to master the subject led him to Bengaluru ‐ the IT hub. At Bengaluru, he had pursued his B.Tech in Information Technology at the BMS College of Engineering.
Sunoj went on to work at a multinational company for five years during which he had developed an urge to 'materialise his ideas.' It was not long before he had set out to establish his own company. While at first, his family was hesitant, Sunoj said that his wife was very supportive and was thus willing to try his luck.
The 'I's have it
iCapture, a Geniocode product, is aimed at keeping a watchful eye of the surroundings through a face-recognition programme. At present the company is trying to sell the product in the household sector. But, the product will soon be used on a large scale and will cater to various government-run sectors. “Our proposals are still being discussed with the Kerala state government as well as that of the other state governments,” said Sunoj. “This product will be linked to our mobile phones and would notify us in the event of anything unusual via SMS or MMS. We have recently started our operations in the USA as well,” he added.
Sunoj said, “The main draw back of our product is that we are unable to seek permission to test the product on a larger scale, that is at Railway stations, airports etc.”
The ride so far
Sunoj does not hail from a business background. “There was a lot that had to be learnt. But my wife was helpful. She had assisted me in tackling various legal aspects of the firm,” Sunoj added. The firm currently resorts to a variety of social media marketing. According to Sunoj, the response on social media portals, especially Facebook, has been good.
Animator turned entrepreneur
“I am patient. I always have been,” said the next interviewee. Vibhin Varghese, the CEO of Elveera Technologies, is one such person who chose to work on a product based on experiences that have affected him deeply. Vibhin hails from Kollam. His father was gulf-based mechanical engineer while his mother is a house wife. He is the eldest of three children.
As a child, Vibhin had undergone major surgeries at Thiruvananthapuram and New Delhi. He was subject to several ailments. Upon, completing his school education, he went on to complete his Bachelor's in Computer Science from a college in Bhopal. Later on, he had pursued his masters in animation from Amrita Institute of Communication, Kollam. Soon, he began working in firms situated in Dubai and Bangalore. His father's demise prompted him to return to Kerala.
It was not long before, Vibhin had decided to start his own firm. Though risky, he seemed determined to do so.
Elveera Technologies had started out as a services firm, that focussed on the creation of mobile apps. This included their app called the 'Reminder' that helped prioritise daily tasks.
It was not long before Vibhin and his team decided to work on a product that would help facilitate health care. A web application called Doctor Reach, is a product that could allow patients, doctors and hospitals to keep as tab of their appointments as well as the details of the patient. The app has two versions. While the version that could be accessed by patients is free of cost, those used to by doctors and hospitals will have to be subscribed. This web-based and mobile-based application will enable patients and doctors to plan their appointments better, bidding adieu to waiting in long queues.
At present, the product is undergoing a few pilot tests. The launch of the product will be determined thereafter.
A clever way of sustenance
Elveera Technologies has not put an end to all its services. In fact, the firm still creates a variety of user-friendly mobile apps so at to generate income. This income is used to carry out various operations of the firm. Vibhin also said that marketing via social media has helped the firm growth as well.
Practical education is the way to go
Sunoj said that while his education background helped him to an extent, there were several aspects to his profession that he had learnt on his own. Vibhin firmly stated that the education systems need to change. He believes that while a student's theoretical knowledge is rather sound, they are unable to apply all that they have learnt.
Is it worth running your own firm?
Sunoj believes one can do so provided they are confident about their ideas. “There is a lot of risks involved. But in the end, we enjoy the work we do and that keeps us going,” says Sunoj. Vibhin on the other hand feels that it would be wise for one to work elsewhere, before plunging into the world of startups. “Prior experience in an established firm always helps. That way, you become aware of organisation structures and various procedures involved,” says Vibhin. “Don't start a business for the sake of starting a business. You must have a clarity about the task before you,” he added.