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Innovative Careers: The Rise of Start-ups in Manipal

One of the many reasons Academic Block-4 is known as the Innovation Center is because of the budding start-ups in residence. The Innovation Center has served as a Business Incubator for many start-ups. The founders of three of such start-ups spoke to us at length about their journey and future prospects.

Platform Petal

Platform Petal’s unique name is derived from the idea of flowers blossoming on burgeoning branches on the first day of spring, after a particularly harsh, biting winter. It aims to provide a multi layered platform for start-ups in their initial stages. This ensures a higher success rate, which allows the project to reach its maximum potential.

Bhaskar Singh, the founder of Platform Petal, faced several problems since the inception and conceptualisation phase of the project. Two months into the venture, the unprecedented dispersal of the co-founder and half the team – which could have been a fatal blow – failed to deter his ambition and instead strengthened his resolve. The rebuilding process was rather arduous and daunting. Nevertheless, Platform Petal managed to stand up on its feet and start afresh. The primary aim of Platform Petal is to provide help with anything ranging from marketing to web development. They plan to achieve this by connecting people who specialize in those fields with innovators that have bright ideas but not as many resources. Once the collaboration has been accomplished, a virtual workstation is provided to display all the work details related to the new venture-designs, documents, meetings, and even reminders; everything is documented on one consolidated screen.

Picture credits: Platform Petal

Platform Petal shall be recruiting in the departments of Content Writing, Finance and Marketing, Data Security, Data Analysis, HR, and Design. There are no official working hours at Platform Petal – the recruits work until the day’s goals have been met. Such is their workload that the administration has given the members an extended entry time into the hostels at night. “From our experience, we know that ideas are quick to fall apart once there’s a lack of resources and people. We don’t want that to happen to anyone else who feels passionately about innovating and creating. So we’ve created a start-up for other start-ups, of sorts. It’s like a beacon of light after winter, hence the name.” remarked Divyanshu Singh, co-founder of the venture.

If Platform Petal fails to make a mark at MUTBI’s Provenance, Bhaskar and Divyanshu hope to pitch their idea to several investors in different cities of the country – quite a few of whom have already invited Platform Petal to discuss their idea. The idea is unique and with the right mix of hard work and resources, Platform Petal promises to bloom in the near future.

Strange Matter

Strange Matter, under the alias Team Modulus, was the winner of MUTBI’s (Manipal University Technology Business Incubator) annual event called  Provenance in 2015. They are also quarter finalists of the Texas Instruments India Innovation Challenge 2016, a competition that is still ongoing. Prior to this, the founding members of the start-up, Ayushman Choudhuri, Arjun Manoj Menon, and Siddharth Sahay were all part of MIT’s student project, RoboManipal.

Strange Matter aims at building a desktop CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine which is cost-effective, economical, and efficient at the same time. While most high-end desktop CNC’s can cost anywhere between twenty to thirty lakh rupees, the team has currently priced their module at approximately two lakh rupees. “We are trying to tailor the product to meet the needs of several low-end manufacturing hubs, so that they can enhance their capabilities at the added advantage of bearing cheaper costs”, said Ayushman, Team Head for Strange Matter. When asked about the prospects offered by their project to the students of MIT, Ayushman said, “This is unlike the usual business-to-consumer relationship that most start-ups offer, but students will definitely be able gain a higher understanding of CNC milling”. Apart from the hardware aspect of their module, they also intend to implement algorithms which shall reduce the learning curve and increase comprehensibility of the program code.

A prototype of Strange Matter’s Desktop CNC

Strange Matter came into existence with three students at the helm, and over the year, they have recruited five additional members into their team. They have been working on their product called Modulus since last year. It is still in the prototyping stage, and the team has carried out three prototype iterations. Although desktop CNC’s have been around for a considerable amount of time, their prospects of entry into the Indian market have been bleak. For this reason, the team wishes to launch their product in the year 2018. Each member devotes as many working hours he or she can. The determination, focus, and passion for their company as well as the work they do is bound to take them to great heights.

Salahcar

True to the Hindi translation of its name, Salahcar advises car users on the servicing requirements of their cars in a cost-effective manner. It pulls data from the computers that are pre-installed in a car and constantly updates the user on when the car needs to be sent to the shop.

The necessity of a product like Salahcar had been brewing for a while in the market, with car companies recommending unnecessarily expensive repairs to the car. This happens because car users generally have little to no knowledge about the technical intricacies of their automobile, and this compels the customer to make uninformed decisions. So, if the air filter of a car is found to be faulty, Salahcar would let you know about the hindrance immediately. Another notable feature that Salahcar has introduced is to get the insurance premium reduced. They plan to do this by giving insurance companies a list of plausible proofs that a client can look after and be responsible for his or her car. Catering to the Indian demographic, the device would also track fuel economy because mileage is often a key factor that car owners pay attention to.

The prototype of Salahcar’s model

Salahcar focuses on constantly improving their product to make it stand out from their competition. Seemingly, Provenance ’16 was a metamorphic event in their growth. ‘We spent days thinking about what could garner attention for Salahcar, and make our device stand out from the rest’, says Shayoni Sengupta, the Head of Marketing and Management. The team at Salahcar regards efficient sales and marketing as one of their most prominent hurdles. The device is a necessity, but average car owners might not view it as one. Instead, they might opt to go to trusted service centres. This is where Salahcar’s selling factor comes in- it provides the user this information for free. All the information is compiled into a database that is freely accessible to all its clients.

Despite the hurdles and challenges they are bound to face in the future, Team Salahcar believes they can pull through. The dedicated and skilled group of eight people work day and night to bring their idea to life; they invest as much of their free time into the company as possible. “We are confident that this idea is worth pursuing”, the founder, Shreyansh Chordia, remarked. With a determined team and a refreshingly new idea in their arsenal, Salahcar is strapped in for a riveting ride.

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