Straightforward conversation with Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Founder, Luna Ergonomics
By now most of us know Luna Ergonomics and the grounded entrepreneur Abhijit Bhattacharjee, who left his job as an Army officer (ofcourse the pensions and perks alongwith it) to pursue his passion. We had covered their story sometime back, but with an innovation such as Luna we thought its good to keep up with what’s happening inside the venture.So here we bring to you our updates on Luna Ergonomics and also in the process keep our promise of updating on our stories. Abhijit is straightforward and good with words so I have retained most of the conversation verbatim.YourStory :Abhijit please tell us in brief about Luna Ergonomics
Abhijit : Luna Ergonomics are developers of new usability technologies that allow people to type in all languages of the world on the existing phone, faster, easier and more ergonomically with a host of other technical advantages to manufacturers. The usability is unique and relies on a patented invention of statistical predictive texting. The technologies are fully developed and are also applicable to other digital devices including the PC, IPTV etc. Already developed for 22 major languages of the world from all linguistic families and work continues to cover all. It is being described as a breakthrough by all eminent quarters. Our products for Indian languages is called Panini Keypad and global products called CleverTexting.
YourStory : How are you seeing the market respond to your innovation?
Abhijit:Typing is a fundamental activity common to almost every area of life and business; and increasingly that typing is done on a digital interface like a phone or a PC. Since our technologies have been developed for every major language of the world of every geography, it has the bright potential to touch the lives of every person in the world through a utility that is most often used and critical to daily life as in texting a message on a phone or storing an address book entry or watching a movie or a favorite song on the TV, Ipod.Already every stake holder has expressed that this shift of usability is a welcome breakthrough and is being seen as an inevitable. And we are rapidly signing MOUs and contracts with the first ones who are taking a firm decision on the above mandate.
YourStory: What are the differentiators of your business?
Abhijit :A usability technology will license its technology to device manufacturers for a royalty per device and that is the model that we are also following. Our company is also offering this technology through other business models like operator VAS, app store, retail, enterprise etc. The key discriminator of this technology is that it is the only one that will allow one to write in all languages of the world on the same phone and without the need of printed characters on the hardware and yet offer a speed and convenience to the user which was unprecedented.
YourStory: Scaling up plans
Abhijit:Here is an opportunity for an Indian innovation to change the way the world writes on digital interfaces for the middle term future. By now it is fairly well acknowledged that it definitely will do so but the uncertainty remains as to whether this tiny Indian company will be successful in crediting this to its name, harness its potential windfall in utility to the world, protect its IP globally and continue to stay the leader in the spearhead direction in usability that it created. Towards that our company needs to quickly set up global commercial presences, develop these technologies for all devices and languages by deploying large development teams and go on a short duration worldwide marketing blitzkrieg to make this usability well known to users. Then we win. We are inviting funds towards that and otherwise continuing to build our organization for organic growth of its own from amongst our own existing resources and business. In our kind of business, the top line and bottomline are adjacent to each other, we save a lot. Precious resources for our growth plans.
YourStory : What has been some of your challenges as the man at helm?
Abhijit: Today my challenge is to invent the leadership that will keep the whole organization just as efficient, productive and micromanaged when it is growing large as it was when it was only 3 member strong. Can this be done? Another challenge in new technology business is getting the world to accept new things. Goes away with time when you are sure. Your own belief if true will eventually infect others.
YourStory: Mistakes we could learn from?
Abhijit: In a previous technology entrepreneurship I did, I tried to do something well before its time (In India). Trying to introduce a hot promising new technology in a market where the ecosystem did not exist. Offering a cool technology to a market where it was hard to find real demand. Just foible of young age but I respect my immense efforts nevertheless and the huge lifelong learnings from it. I cannot work as hard today to recreate the same learnings.
( We think this is a real gem of a thought)
YourStory : Money/Funding to support such an innovation?
Abhijit: At first from personal savings from a job I did, then parents reaching out and then the best angel investors in the world to our rescue. Now we are raising from VC funds.
YourStory: An inside scoop on your growth so far?
Abhijit: Our growth should be measured in languages we do, devices we cover, acceptance we find, licenses we sign, finally number of users who use our technology. In all of that we have done very well. Now at 22 languages, developed for Korean, a very promising accomplishment in Chinese, now working on Japanese. Java, Android, iPhone done. A employee growth of 3 to 14 is not a great story but we think being small is a credit if you are hyper efficient and accomplish nevertheless.
YourStory: We keep hearing about your awards, so how many so far? What else?
Abhijit: Humbly putting it, its been over a dozen now both national and international. The deals we have signed with global majors. Also encouraging for us is that we know today that CleverTexting will work very well for the Chinese language – the last bastion of languages of the world.
To tell you a bit more on this, CleverTexting was released quietly to the world from the obscure website of a small Indian start up on the night of the 31st Dec 2008. It was already the cover story of the Journal of the Ergonomist Society, UK in Mar 2009 calling it “Thumbs up to a new way of Texting” saying it was powerful, promising and full of new possibilities. Then we won the Judges Choice award at Nokia’s Globla Mobile Innovation contest – calling it Mobile Necessity for Emerging Markets.
And then many others
- Winner of Economic Times Power of Ideas 2009
- Winner of Economic Times Power of Ideas 2010
- Winner of Nokia Global Mobile Innovation Award 2009
- Winner of Aegis Graham Bell Award for Telecom Innovation 2010
- Best start up of India - Proto.in 2010
- mBillionth Award 2010
- Winner of Red Herring Asia 100 - 2010
- Nominated for Red Herring Global 100.
- Gold Medalist - Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Programme by DST, FICCI
- Winner of NASSCOM Appfame Contest.
- Nominated for IAMAI - Best Digital Innovation - award in Dec.
- Nominated for Nasscom Foundation Social Innovation Honours - to be announced.
Today we are Red Herring Asia 100 company and a nominated finalist for Global 100 and are to present in LA in Jan 2011.
( This we feel needs a big applause from all of us in India)
YourStory: Now hear we go personal, did you ever feel or still feel like its all too much to do and lets go back to regular job?
Abhijit: In the first one or two weeks I did open a couple of job related mails, did not respond though. How could you be applying for a job while behind your back you have young employees who depend on you for their lives and to whom you have committed? It was self congratulatory to inform a caller that you are no longer interested because you have become an entrepreneur, the HR exec generally belied an unsure admiration in her voice. They have stopped calling, I am unemployable.
Also I take this opportunity to thank our country for making it so easy for entrepreneurs today. There is so much glory for him or her. The academics talk about it, institutions eulogize, ministers talk about it, girl friends find it brave even though you live like a pig and may be the parents and parents-in-laws will also come around soon. My parents are. The glory to the entrepreneur in our media today has surpassed the soldier, the doctor, the good teacher, the brave fireman and everyone else. One day it should surpass the cricketer and the actor. That is so much of acknowledgement. Worthy of every sacrifice and keeping you going. All Thumbs up to the value creator.
YourStory: Where do we see you in a few years..lets say 2 years from now?
Abhijit: In 2 years I would like to be standing infront of a lean modern building on Indian soil called Luna Ergonomics that churns out cutting edge technologies that the whole world uses. It attracts the most talented and devoted workforce from everywhere, has presence in every continent. It is respected and inspires others. And it has changed the way the world writes on digital devices. And everyone everywhere is aware that the nifty utility that makes it so easy for him is very clever indeed and that innovation came from far away India. And then we walk into the building with our families, friends and well wishers and also a bewildered flattered sister whose name is also Luna. J They say, we should visualize success with matters upclose and personal and then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as long as you also work towards it. The pleasant belief moulds our behavior through thick and thin.
Stories such as these make our job at YourStory worth every while J While we keep tracking the progress of Abhijit as an entrepreneur and professional, lets all wish him the best for the coming year.
- Shradha Sharma