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Syed Farooq Ross, Fahad Azad, Shafika Syed and Syed Masood, Founders, Robosoft Systems – Edutainment and Industrial

Team YS
23rd Aug 2009
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Humans have always been fascinated by automation primarily of the kind that makes our lives easier. From the fiction of Asimov to the cinematic magic of Hollywood, robots have captivated our imagination and have been propelled into reality by geniuses, robo-tech enthusiasts and visionaries. India has been striding into modernity, and no sign speaks more of our present and future progress than the birth of entrepreneurial interest in robotics. A team of four engineers Syed Farooq Ross (Electronics) Fahad Azad (Automobiles) Shafika Syed (Electronics) and Syed Masood (Computer) are heralding the dawn of a rising India. Robosoft Systems is the embodiment of their hard work and enthusiasm for their field.

Yourstory interviewed the four who chose to speak in one voice about their company saying “Robosoft Systems is a privately held company located in Mumbai, India. Robosoft Systems is primarily a Research and Development based company in field of Embedded System Design, VLSI and Robotics. Having done lot of work in Mobile Robotics for the duct cleaning industry, we have now moved into Edutainment Robotics (a combination of educational and entertainment – fun while you learn).”

“The unique thing about the founders of Robosoft Systems is that they did not make a business plan, as is the norm with other startups. Because of their expertise in robotics, people started approaching them for design and maintenance of robots. After seeing the response, incorporating their hobby into a business was a natural progression.”

If the last decade was about the internet and communication, then God willing the coming decades shall be about robots. They stated their future designs saying “We are creating a sector along the lines of ICT and IT services. The scope essentially is as big as we can dream about. We can be compared to early 1990’s fledgling telecom sector. We believe that the first step for introducing a radically different product such as Robotics is to create awareness about the product.”

“Hence we are currently into edutainment Robotics where our future customers are getting hands on knowledge about various aspects of Robotics. Not to mention the buzz that we are creating in the minds of the leaders of tomorrow. In just over a year of operation we have covered 5000+ students in engineering colleges and schools.”

“Our chief strength and points of differentiators are our R&D and product development capabilities and hence our products are right up in the value chain in terms of functionality and finish - vis a vis our competitors. Our business model presently revolves around Edutainment Robotics. We conduct workshops for school and college students across India. This is done with two main objectives:

a) Making robotics accessible to a wide range of students across India. Thus generating Interest in further studies and research in robotics.

b) To bridge the gap between theory and practice. To provide live hands on experience to understand theory better.”

“Through edutainment robotics, our products have gone through a critical development cycle, thus making them finished products.Prestigious colleges and schools like IIT Bombay – Techfest and Utpal Sanghvi School, Juhu are some of our clients. Times NIE is our media partner for workshops in schools. Apart from the above, we have also taken nascent steps in the Duct Robotics space with BlueStar India and E.P.S.C.O being our domestic clients along with other international ones.”

Their future is strong and general interest in their products is rising every day. Their plans focus around the consumer market, so we could soon be expecting some interesting developments. They stated “With a strong platform laid and an ongoing source of steady revenue, we have ambitious plans to launch into the consumer robotics market. We are in the process of giving finishing touches to our plans and have set a December, 2009 timeline by which to start formal operations in the consumer robotics space. We will first launch Do it Yourself (DIY) Robotics kits in the market after which we will enter the Home Appliances in Robotics. Currently, this is a nonexistent sector in India, one, which

RoboSoft Systems will create.”

Their entrepreneurial quest was not intentional, after all a wise man said that one need only be the best at one thing to succeed. They recalled their plunge into entrepreneurship saying “The founders’ world always revolved around the sphere of robotics and related systems. They never envisioned taking up anything else. Robosoft Systems happened because they realized the business potential of their hobby and passion.”

With a sector that is beginning to take root in India the challenges have been those that only pioneers may face. They revealed their worries and said “Robosoft System survives on its R&D, thus getting the right talent here is of crucial importance and has been a great challenge so far. We haven’t completely overcome it but we have given an open invitation to college students (who take part in our workshops) to join us as interns and consider us as a viable career option after their engineering.

Their status as pioneer entrepreneurs has left room for errors of the learning kind. “The mistake was that we started Robosoft Systems a couple of years too late because we were yet to finish our graduation and our parents did not allow us to float a company while in college.” Said the foursome

Their faith and belief in their work was great indeed. The capital they generated is a mute witness to the strength of their vision. They said “We were always sure of the potential of Robotics in making a positive impact on people’s life; hence we refrained from divesting stake at the onset. We somehow clobbered together 25 lakhs from family and friends. In the first financial year of our operations we managed to clock 0.5 Crores in revenue.”

“The projected target for FY 2 is 1+crore. Thus in percentage terms, it comes out to be a 100% YOY growth. We currently have our head office at Andheri (E), Mumbai and no other branches. Our head count is 20 at present and scaling up. Plans are on to expand our current office in the same complex. We are also planning to open a regional office at Bangalore.”

Their steady growth and pioneering efforts have gained a lot of support. They are especially proud of “The fact that each school and college wants to continue their association with us after our 1st workshop with them. Some institutions have even gone on to suggest that they might include our workshops as part of their annual curriculum.

Robosoft Systems are the pioneer of Solar Robotics in India.”

As it always happens in the movies their robots also have military applications with real life consequences. They stated “We have also developed a product that could have helped in the operations that were carried out at Taj Mumbai during the terrorist attacks of 26/11. Our Surveillance robot could have entered each nook and cranny of Taj while giving real time videos and other data to the NSG about the locations of the terrorists. That particular product is ready and something we are particularly proud of. We were advised that the Indian army would not be interested in our product as they still believe in sourcing such equipment from foreign countries such as Israel, USA etc. We are also giving finishing touches to something called as Swarm Robotics which basically means many robots focused on the same direction. If one fails, the others finish the job. It has great potential in defense and environmental surveillance.”

“We have been recognized by our clients (students, parents and teachers) for filling a wide chasm in the education scenario of today. The need to incorporate systems to bridge the gap between theory and practice becomes more apparent after an institution has been a recipient of our workshops.”

The inventor entrepreneurs have been motivated by their own creations. “The creative satisfaction derived from designing new products. Another major source of motivation is the feedback we get from students about how our workshops have put in their hands the crucial tool of implanting theory into practice.”

In the field of Indian Robotics, the foursome has gathered many accolades. “Farooq won the best project award across India in his final year of Engineering. It was given to him by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He had made a mobile robotic arm which astounded his external guide to such an extent that Farooq had to ask his internal guide to testify to the external guide that Farooq himself had made it. Fahad won the Cliffhanger competition at IIT Powai Tech fest in the years 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2005.”

“The last two years the competition was international. The competition involved making a rope climbing robot. He also participated in the highly prestigious international event at IIT Powai, known as RoboCon. It is one of the biggest robotic competitions in the country. His team was highly appreciated at the event for his ingenious product.”

The foursome passed on their wisdom to those waiting on the sidelines saying “Follow your passions to the hilt but keep in mind the market needs and maturity before designing your products/services.”

Yourstory wishes the Pioneer entrepreneurs at Robosoft a great future and wishes that they bring all their robotic creations to life as only they can.

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