Having worked as a scientist and researcher in his previous stints Sanjay Deshpande had seen the services landscape in India closely. While working for IT major Infosys in the US and Tata Research Center he realized that India was exporting human capital but there was still a lacuna in developing and exporting IP. This epiphany led to the genesis of Uniken, which was started in 2003 with the idea to start an innovation lab in India.
With a vision to create an ecosystem that would encourage the conceptualization and development of new ideas and IPs native to India, Uniken had set-up a lab in Pune, which conducted research & development for cross-sectoral projects, including Operating Systems, solar power and renewable energy among others.
“In 2005-06, discussions with DRDO led us to focus our efforts towards creating a massively scalable private network on a global scale. Since then, Uniken has been committed to developing technologies to create a network for secure communications which can be used by enterprises requiring high confidentiality such as banks and insurance companies,” says Sanjay Deshpande, Co-founder & CEO, Uniken.
This led to the development and launch of REL-ID (Relative Identity) concept which is at the core of Uniken’s solutions. Enterprises use its digital security platform, REL-ID, to deliver services to their customers, employees and partners over a completely private network, secured with military-grade mutual authentication.
Scientists should commercialize their innovation
“Mulling over the role of scientists in India’s rapidly evolving entrepreneurial landscape with the former director of Tata Research Center, Dr. EC Subbarao, we came to realize that unless scientists understand and promote the importance of commercialization of their innovations, as a country we would never capitalize on the vast intellectual human capital,” says Sanjay.
They also realized that an innovation system has to be built from scratch and can’t be nurtured in larger organizations with services focus.
Team behind Uniken
Besides Sanjay Prakash Salvi, Nilesh Dhande and Eashwar Ganapathy are the other co-founders of Uniken. Eashwar had earlier worked with Infosys Finacle group (Infosys’ banking product), and led the technology research and development effort for its mobile computing business while Prakash has over two decades of experience in the IT industry and had stints in various capacities with IMR Global Services (now CGI Canada).
Prior to Uniken, Nilesh worked with Infosys where he led various business initiatives at mobile computing group.
Talent crunch is a big roadblock for startups
“One of the biggest challenges for any startup in India is the availability of talent. Even today the predominant culture among top talent in India is to seek either large multinational technology brands and services companies or explore opportunities abroad rather than be part of a fast growing young company in India,” outlines Sanjay.
The second challenge for Uniken is the low price to value ratio. Due to the super cost-conscious culture, innovation continues to be underpaid. “While India emerged as the undisputed hub for outsourcing, there is still some way to go in being acknowledged as a source of cutting edge innovation,” he adds.
Nexus Venture Partners backed company is being hailed as the next generation security technology in the most difficult to penetrate security market of Israel.
Uniken isn’t replicable
The company has built its technology from ground up. “We created a unique technology solution which is extremely difficult if not impossible to replicate. It would need the competition to serious relook at their basic security architectures,” says Sanjay. However, in any technology led business, the window of opportunity shrinks very fast and the core team is well aware about it. But given the nature of the engineering led innovation of its technology, the team believes they have a bigger head start vis-à-vis the competition.
REL-ID product has been appreciated and endorsed by the security leaders within large banks across India. At present, it works with three of the top six Indian banks. The company has amassed over one million users in the last three years, and aims to extend it to over a 100 million users in the next five years.