In the era of entrepreneurship and startups, Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur sees it as its duty to share some of the successful startup stories related to IIT Kharagpur. Seventh in the series we present to you the story of Intugine.
Intugine: Awesome gesture control Ring
What inspired you to come up with the idea of ‘Nimble’? And how you found your cofounders?
It all started with the idea of improving the gaming experience. Things like motion control already existed but for XBOX and PS only. There was nothing for PCs and we aimed to create something affordable and economical gadget in motion control for improving the gaming experience. But it has changed a lot now, as some changes were necessary for the Product/Market fit. In initial stage idea looked very fascinating, and I along with my few friends started it as a hobby work in our second semester. I first found Vivek, who was good in Electronics part, then I met Abhishek in my second year and we three started the work a bit more seriously. There was always an angle of business when we started working on Nimble.
How important is the relationship/chemistry between co-founders of a startup like intugine?
For any startup, communication is the most important thing, especially for a hardware startup, there is always a lot of co-related work, as hardware is all based on software and vice-versa.
You started working on Nimble in your first year itself, weren’t you guys amateur for the research part?
You can do research or say technical part in any point of life, I don’t think we were amateur for it, but for business end it was a bit early. We were actually amateur in the Business part, as we didn’t know how do things work in real life.
We do not see many hardware startups from India, Hardware start-ups are still in nascent stage in India, What could be the reason?
In India, converting a concept/prototype to a final product is not easy as we don’t have enough makerspace or vendors for manufacturing. China is leading hub for hardware startups, therefore a large part is set up China, mostly because of low wages and manufacturing facilities, which are not available in India. Assembly, outer casing and software part could only be done in India. For large scale, entire thing can be done in China. Another challenging task is to raise funds for hardware startups in this nascent hardware startup ecosystem in India. One of the primary reasons for the same is the lack of investors who understand this space and are willing to invest in hardware startups.
How are more risks involved in Hardware startups as compared to software startups? Whether it is regarding equipment, or investment or market?
The major difference is, once you ship your device, you can’t modify or update it after it is deployed, whereas in software could be updated with one push. Thus, you have to make things right at once before deploying the product, or you will have to design new device and manufacture it again. Another challenge is more capital is required in hardware startups, for buying the components, manufacturing, packaging and shipping the product you need to put a quite big amount of money, although 3-D printing is making things easier. I would say it is more challenging rather than saying risky.
How is ‘Nimble’ or say ‘Gesture Control’ performing in the Indian market as compared to the globe?
Talking about ‘Gesture Control’, the world is much ahead than of India in a usage of the technology. Take an example of ‘Kinect’ a gesture control device made by Microsoft, about 24 million people use ‘Kinect’ globally. Talking about ‘Nimble’(Intugine), we are working mostly in the Indian market and it is performing well as of now. We haven’t reached out to larger market globally, but we have a better technology and will perform better on a global scale in future.
There must have been things which made you believe in your product more than the other companies like Kinect, Leap motion and Myo already working on gesture control, How does IntuGine stand out from the rest?
When we started building Nimble, only Kinect existed, there was no leap motion and Myo. And Kinect was for Xbox mostly, thus, there was no one doing something similar to us. Obviously, they were in a better entrepreneurial ecosystem than us and therefore, got more capital invested. But at this point, we have a much more reliable and accurate technology than Leap motion, Myo and Kinect. And one would rely on us more than other players if it comes to smart cars and home automation.
How is crowdfunding good for innovation?
Crowdfunding proves to be good for innovation because you get the initial capital, which could be a good money, and it becomes easier to convince investors if you can use the money to show some success to make them believe in space. Four most important things you get from the crowdfunding are - Market Validation, Initial Capital, Early customers/adopters and Global exposure in one shot.
How did Indiegogo campaign help IntuGine? What suggestions would you give to tech founders in college about a crowdfunding campaign?
We couldn’t make our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign a great success, as we publicised it in India only, we were not able to market it well in US and UK, where potential backers were present. The lesson we learnt was, one should have prior knowledge about marketing the campaign and should build their community of initial backers to ensure the visibility of the campaign. One can always look forward to competitions and summits like TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield and CES for publicity if the crowdfunding campaign. Nowadays, a lot of Indian crowdsourcing platforms are also good to work with as they balance the visibility and publicity of the campaign.
How were you convinced about dropping out from college and how did you convince your parents for the same?
I was planning to do that very early, almost when I started, I was determined and had that in a back of my mind but it eventually took some time. So, I was pretty convinced, but it was difficult to convince parents. You can’t go one day and tell them that you are dropping out. You have to keep them updated on what you are doing, and what you have in mind then only it becomes a bit easier to convince.
In the initial days of Intugine, you were based at Kharagpur itself? Any suggestions regarding how can one manage to work from Kharagpur, as it is not a major city?
Ha-Ha (Laughs as hears the question), That was the only thing I couldn’t manage and thus I came out. Kharagpur is a good ecosystem for software startups, you get the good tech talent, you can make a beta version, you can have a small launch and pilot, you get early adopters easily and you can ask people for the feedback. But if you launch something in Bangalore or Bombay, you will have to find customers using your contacts. Same things go for hardware startups if it is finding tech-talent or proof of concept, but if one wants to move toward manufacturing the product, it becomes tough.
Any mistakes you made or lessons you learnt in your entrepreneurial journey till now?
We made a lot of mistakes, but I would like to share one very basic and important thing. Whenever you make a product, starting from the need will help you grow a business easier than just starting up just because an idea is very exciting. We started with an exciting idea and figured out the need later. Every entrepreneur says the same, one should identify the need then build a product around it.
What are the next goals for IntuGine?
We are moving towards B2B customers, we have them lined up. Next big challenges are basically ensuring customers, get feedback and improve our product. We are going to bundle with other products. Intugine would be collaborating with business partners for making smart homes, smart cars etc.
Anything you would like to share as a learning experience or any success moment with the students of KGP?
Start early, Make mistakes, learn from them and always count that you have to deliver the product. Your biggest target should be getting early customers and making them happy, then start scaling up. And remember, Innovation is necessary but sales are most important.
Any suggestion for the students to read some books that can give them some insights about hardware startups?
I would recommend everyone to read the blog and essays by Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator. And keep an eye on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it will keep you updated about the latest technology being used and works going on in the world.
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