After a multi-million dollar exit, ex-Cosmic founders start InnoRel Systems

Amidst a slew of startups in Bangalore, ranging from technology to services sector, we have a team of entrepreneurs which is focused on creating innovative solutions for the power sector. India being a high energy deficit country with more than 8% nationally (as per CEA 2013 report), the energy generation industry is struggling to bridge this deficit.

Mr. Prakash Easwaran and Mr. Nagaraj Azhakesan wanted to come up with a differentiating solution to build ecosystem for these energy producers/ enablers both in the conventional as well as renewable sectors, thus giving birth to InnoRel Systems in July 2013.

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Their passion for supporting these energy companies in order to make India self reliant in terms of power generation and savings, gave way to the following three product lines:

  • Module Level Power Electronics, which focuses on reducing the power losses and helps reduce existing power bills.
  • Lighting Solutions, which provide LED driver to existing lighting solutions for smarter use along with an interface for energy data reading and system configuration.
  • Remote Monitoring/Control Solutions For Lighting and PV, this product line focuses on providing solutions for remote monitoring of power, voltage and current in solar sites.

Their smart junction box with panel and string optimizers helps to conserve electricity by overcoming mismatch issues. To solve the increasing demand of reliable and cost effective LED driver to reduce power wastage, InnoRel has come up with its own driver for LED manufactures which can be included in their lighting solutions.

Away from the media glare the duo silently worked building InnoRel Systems a world class innovative reliable solutions provider company both in solar as well as conventional power sector. At present, they have a small but talented team of 20 people with the core team having more than 100 years of combined experience coupled with 34 patents amongst them.

Prakash Easwaran has 20-year-old vast experience in analog and power management products. He was awarded the EDN Innovator of the year for his work on DSL CODEC. He has filed 25 patents and is the author of eight journal papers. Nagaraj has around 23+ years experience in Information Technology, Program Management, HR, Finance etc. He is also in involved in other companies as a board member and advisor. Prakash Suratkar has worked in various MNCs in the solar and semiconductor industry for over the past 30 odd years with 25 widely acclaimed publications to his credit.

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Asked why he started InnoRel, Prakash Easwaran says, “We always wanted to focus on solar and lighting solutions which have great demand in the industry. We are able to offer a wide range of cost competitive, reliable products with a host of innovative features for solar as well as lighting industry.”

Indian hardware startups usually manufacture their products in China due to low manufacturing costs. But Innorel systems is manufacturing their products in India with help of local vendors. Nagaraj explains that it is better to work with local vendors to avoid time and money mismanagement. In hardware, iteration isn’t as simple as software, but local vendors provide the luxury of more iteration at affordable costs. It’s easier to communicate with local vendors as compared to the ones in China. This is an emerging trend of manufacturing products locally in India to avoid ‘IP theft’ when working with Chinese manufacturers.

Nagaraj believes that it’s relatively easy for Indian hardware startups to have a B2B focus. In the initial days, startups don’t have the muscle to invest in marketing to acquire customers and usually end in failure. In contrast, B2B model is very interesting as they cater to the routine needs of other businesses, providing them a steady source of revenue.

In the past few years, the number of Indian startups making hardware products has increased but the worry of getting good talent has increased four folds along with it. Few days ago, Rishabh Kaul from Grey Orange Robotics shared the same sentiment – ‘Hardware is not the new software and putting together an ace hardware team requires a considerable amount of dedicated effort. Prakash seems to be very calm and confident of the team he has built. He believes that there is enough talent and all they need is some basic training. In his earlier days, he has taken courses in few IITs and BITS to engage with students and get potential hires at the early stage. This probably seems to be the new strategy founders would adopt to get hold of fresh influx of talent.

Prakash and Nagaraj were previously Co-Founders of Cosmic Circuits, a leading provider of analog and mixed signal intellectual property (IP) cores. Cosmic circuits was acquired by Cadence in May 2013. Cosmic’s IP strengthens Cadence’s side in its IP battle with Synopsys, giving it heads up in its solutions to address mobile, Cloud/datacenter and ‘Internet of Things’.

For long, there has been some talk of ‘India has no chance in hardware, the hardware story is very much the China story’, its good to see startups like Wello, GetActive, InnoRel Systems, Grey Orange Robotics, Diabeto proving skeptics wrong.

Is this the start of hardware revolution in India?

 

Subodh Kolhe