Honestly, it was overwhelming. Things went truly viral and we were completely unprepared. We were so unprepared that we left the arena while there were important dignitaries trying to talk to us. Thanks to all of you for making this magical and thanks for your wonderful compliments.
I was just a few feet from Mr.Modi as we entered the place and it was an amazing feeling. Someday I will get to talk with him. And Ivanka was probably the most beautiful woman I have met.
We just joke that even our robot went giddy in front of these amazing personalities. Top entrepreneurs like Ritesh Aggarwal
The highlight of the whole thing was Amul making its signature billboard with our robot. I feel humbled by these billboards.
We were truly excited by Shri Modi’s and Ms Ivanka’s expression and the thousands of snaps that were taken along with hundreds of media coverage we got. The PM tweeted about it and his office featured the bot on their homepage.
Yesterday in Finland at the Slush event a founder of a European company building robots walked up to me after recognizing the Mitra and talked about partnership in taking our robots to the European market. That felt elating [inspite of the fact that the product was not in the perfect shape especially after disassembling for the flight]. Many Finnish people took selfies with the robot to put it on their timeline and that was great.
We also had a delegation from Japan’s Olympics committee visit our office to explore robots for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. These sales might or might not happen in reality, but it felt amazing to imagine that Europe and Japan could buy products from India not for cost, but for uniqueness.
Try moving a 50kg, 5 feet tall object through varying terrain in a noiseless, smooth way without tripping and you will understand the physics behind the design. And with a battery life to last hours of rehearsals. It is a non-trivial piece of engineering with suspension systems that my team created. From the fibreglass body to the internal structure, everything was made here.
We built the hardware, software and electronics for this. We built 9 prototypes this year. We are bootstrapped and have done all this hardware investment without any external funding. And while we didn’t show its real capabilities in the GES event [too risky to try] our robots can move autonomously and that what the funky head antenna is for. We integrated NLP tools and face recognition APIs and those are non-trivial things. And over the years we iterated a million times to get things better and better.
Of course, there are plenty of inaccuracies and faults. This was handmade and in a very short span of time. But, the team has gone through enormous things to get this far, from where we started earlier this year.
Developing product in India is hard. Making everything in India is hard. Making such a large object is hard as the mould costs multiply and the complexity goes as a square of that. Talk is easy, getting the stuff work on the floor is hard and why these don’t happen often.
I’m not saying that our product is perfect. I’m saying the product is perfected and we will get there someday. If we keep worrying about breaking things, we are not a startup.
I’m humbled by your comments and it comes as a great boost for my team that has been tired and dazzled from months of hard work. Everyone in my team come from humble backgrounds and are out to prove something big and this comes as a shot in their arm.
They worked day in and night to get the models going. We faced a number of setbacks. A model made in China never came home as it is stuck in Chennai customs for 2 months. A clay model we made had several inaccuracies and could never be completed. An android device we planned didn’t support our code base and we had to go for a quick fix with another tablet. Logistics went crazy and so did a million things.
There were many hands that went in. Our CTO Bharath built the overall mechanics and everything to get it moving. He was helped by our production engineer Ram and Salman who helped in the structure. Our BDM Kaundinya pulled off this event and got our robot in after our COO Mahalakshmi was invited as a delegate for the event.
Mahalakshmi and her brother Sudarshan did the whole supply chain and logistics for getting all the components. Her father helped us secure funding resources to sustain the R&D.
Our electronics engineers Murali, Raushan and our new hire Spandana helped in building the circuit boards and making the electronics work. Our software engineers Ashwin, Anand and Sreejit made the entire stack. Our project manager Amit made sure the things went on schedule. and Our clay modeller Mr Angappan helped us prepare the final fibreglass body. Our designers Vinay Rao and others at Bang Design helped us design the body. And journalists like Ranjani Ayyar and Nilesh Christopher spent time understanding the product to build an accurate story.
And a special thanks to Kishlay Raj and his team at Sumeru. Their CEO and CTO gave their team’s personal time to finetune the underlying product. While we couldn’t showcase Hindi language NLP in the limited time it is a part of the product that we would sell.
It took the whole village to put up this show.
I’m not saying we are India’s best product or even India’s best robotics company. The GES event was not about that. They wanted to showcase entrepreneurship at an early stage and a product that fit their needs. Large finished products come from large companies, startups backed by billionaires or at least startups with large venture funding. GES thought to have a product from a company that didn’t fit any of these categories above and supported by no one was worth doing.
Hardware in India will sprout only when difficulties of building hardware are understood and its complexities appreciated. Everyone says they or their grandmother or their child could have our product. But, they didn’t. Only our team did. And it is much easy imagining doing a product than doing it.
Is the product overhyped? Maybe. Was there luck involved. Yes. But hey for a bootstrapped startup that has been teetering on brink of bankruptcy and has had more than its share of misfortune this year, I would not mind a little luck. Would you?