Dilip Thomas Ittyera, Founder & CEO, AIKON LABS LLC
Great ideas are like flashes of ingenuity and genius that may strike an individual at any possible moment. Perhaps you have had one such idea… It’s only reasonable that in a life that is lived over several decades that one has had a marvelous life altering brainwave. Maybe if someone were there to guide that idea and steer it from the drawing board to the first prototype, it might just have survived beyond the idea stage.
For those readers who have ideas or might just have one, the next few paragraphs are of paramount importance. Dilip Thomas Ittyera established AIKON LABS LLC in 2007 and he told us more about what exactly they do saying “Our open platform PlanetAikon enables early stage ideas navigate the proverbial "valley of death" or more specifically the Idea-to-Prototype stage
by providing a common platform for leveraging the skills and efforts of a large community (Ideators, Contributors & Sponsors). It is a unique incubation framework which allows like-minded professionals to team around ideas they are passionate through contribution of efforts in return for equity.”
“We also have an Enterprise version of the Platform - Verve, which allows companies to leverage their ecosystem of associates, Lead customers and Partners to manage and execute ideas which are aligned to relevant strategic themes. This platform is offered in a hosted model on a subscription basis, which significantly reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of such an initiative as well as reduce the Time-to-Market.”
Dilip is a veteran in the IT industry with a quarter century of experience. This is the fifth startup that he is involved with. His experience both with established IT services companies as well as with start-ups, in both Business & Technology innovation roles, is a key factor that will positively influence the success of the new venture. He is the Founder and Chief Executive.
He is supported by two stalwarts who make up The Aikon Labs Core Team, Arun Furtado and R R Dasgupta.
R R Dasgupta is an ICT Consulting Professional and has spent over 25 years in the Industry. He has held several leadership positions which include Global Consulting Practices covering areas like e-Business/ IS Strategy & Governance, Business Process Optimization, CRM and Enterprise Collaboration & Content Management. He is responsible for Community & Partnering Strategy.
Arun Furtado is a hardcore technology professional, with experience of more than 10 years of which more than 4 years have been in the US at Cisco Systems. His tenure with Zensar technologies included building & managing teams for important assignments for their largest customers, Cisco & Fujitsu. He is responsible for Engineering & Technology.
By now you must be wondering if they can help you with that portable air conditioner cum inverter idea you had a week ago. Well they are keen to answer that query of yours, their scope fits everybody, and they stated “Aikon is committed to enabling collaborative co-creation of innovative products and solutions. Since our focus is on supporting ideas at the grass root level and then enabling early stage entrepreneurs through the Idea-to-Prototype lifecycle, the number of people that can be benefited is really limitless.”
“Having said that, our focus is on ensuring Ideators and Contributors can come together and have a meaningful ‘co-creation” experience that result in success i.e. execution and realization of the ideas. Our measure of success would be the number of ideas that can be
supported in its early stages, to result in products that can be funded and/or monetized. This is relevant for both of our platforms – PlanetAikon and Verve”
“A snapshot of the functionalities provided by our platform:”
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Seriously speaking though, they serve everyone from the common man to the conglomerate. Their scope is immense and they believe that every good idea is worth the effort. They told us of their unique features saying “Organizations looking at leveraging global talent to compliment their innovation initiatives through Enterprise Sponsored Innovation can use a branded instance of Aikon’s platform (Verve) and infrastructure to tap and nurture ideas. By co-opting formal and informal communities within the company’s ecosystem which may include Customers and Partners, companies can have teams post ideas which can then be taken through a process of voting, rating and mentoring, leading to selection of a few for further support or funding. By providing strategic direction and encouraging ideas from the grassroots companies can unleash the innovation potential within the enterprise.”
“PlanetAikon as a platform and an ecosystem is uniquely positioned to deliver on this promise. We have three identified target segments - Individuals or groups of people (Ideators) with innovative ideas, Contributors who are willing to invest into those ideas and organizations (Sponsors) that plan to create innovative products. Typically, Ideators require angel or seed funding to transform their ideas into products. Contributors look for ideas they are passionate about, are willing to invest their skills and efforts to transform those ideas into products. Ideators team with willing contributors to realize Ideas into Products through Community Sponsored Innovation.”
“Our key differentiators include:
A platform and ecosystem focused on execution of ideas. This is moving beyond collaboration and buzz and helping individuals co-create innovative products and solutions. By aggregating community capabilities and efforts to fund early stage ideas we are helping bring out the best in teams of Ideators and contributors who can then qualify for angel or seed funding through traditional means.”
“The Enterprise Version Verve encourages ideas from the grass-root level around enterprise defined strategic themes that can then be progressed through the contribution and involvement of associates, customers and partners and culminates into working prototypes of solutions that can be further incubated and supported.”
“PlanetAikon which is directed primarily at open communities is basically free. We would typically take a selective equity stake on each Idea during their execution stages (ranging between 3-8%) with a view to exit at the earliest stage of their monetization/funding so as to enable the entrepreneurs forge their own path. Additionally we could also work on a Royalty Model. Our other sources of revenue could Mediation Charges (% of the Transaction Value) or Service Charges (based on services provided).
The Enterprise Edition of our platform is offered as Hosted Subscription based model.”
Their preferred option for growth at this stage is to acquire customers & scale up organically. Another viable option is to raise funds that help scale infrastructure, resources and marketing dollars that will lead to revenue growth.
Dilip strikes one as a far from ordinary person. He chose to give life to others ideas and he quit working for others, he explains why saying “I got bored of it – too much of inertia & pampering. Remember – No Risk No Reward.”
He also believes that his mightiest trails and tribulations are yet to make an entry into his life; though he has had a nasty experience or two he says “The biggest one is yet to come but one of the all-time challenges for a startup is attracting the best & the right talent. We decided to pitch to them as we would to an investor – its working.”
“This is the fifth startup I have been involved in – two of my own & others that I worked in. Some have been utter failures & others have done well. So I have made a lot of mistakes - but one of the costly mistakes was in my first startup where we managed to get two of our biggest customers to invest in the company. In hindsight we should have been satisfied with one – in our boardroom two was a crowd!”
Dilip is also a man who believes in demonstrating his faith. He spoke about seed capital saying “I didn’t find it – I mortgaged the house I am currently staying in. And then I got some from close relatives. USD150K – it’s still running.”
His own ideas took a bit of time to bear fruit but it was just a question of time and nothing else, he says “We went public with the Beta of our product in Dec 2008. So we are still very much in the early stages of our growth. We currently have 10 members (including the core team) & our physical presence is in Pune. We are not a traditional brick and mortar company – our business is online & so will our operations be. We believe in eating our own dog food.”
He counts the trust that they got from early adopter customers & sponsors among their greatest achievements saying “What better recognition than winning some great customers & sponsors in the very early stage of a startup. The NASSCOM Innovation Community’s pilot project runs on PlanetAikon and a new-age employability company trusts our platform. And our Enterprise product, Verve has some exciting customers lined up.”
As of yet Dilip has not thought about life without entrepreneurship and he says “Not as yet – and before I feel like it the business will be too good to leave and go!
He also has set ideas about what 2010 holds for him and AIKON LABS LLC, he says “We would be well on our way to successfully incubating ideas on our platform. A thousand ideas and a hundred thousand members. Well on our way to be the best innovation community on this planet. PlanetAikon.”
We asked him if he had ever received any prestigious awards and he replied very honestly saying “I am yet to get a “prestigious” award – that’s no surprise. The one time when I was overwhelmed by an award was when I got the “Most Creative” participant award in a Dale Carnegie program.”
To entrepreneurs and hidden geniuses he advises saying “It’s your Idea – and it’s the best. No one knows it better & believes in it as much as you. And if that passion & belief comes out in every interaction, you are a winner.”
We wish Dilip and AIKON LABS LLC all the best in bringing people’s dreams to life, and hope to see the same passion in them throughout their journey.