Computer goes Green and Rural too: The elloka Story
A bunch of guys working in a compact but world class infrastructure office space made a “Rs 5,000, 5Watt completely green” computer – “GreCo”. Here, in India. Not kidding! YourStory got a chance to visit elloka’s office where Kota Bhaskar, CTO of elLoka, walked us through the product.
Tell us about elLoka & “GreCo”. The idea behind the venture.
In rural parts of the world, a standard computer just does not work because of its cost, maintenance and power requirements. We set up elLoka to make a computer that works in an environment that is rural and now we made “GreCo”.
Tell us about elLoka’s “GreCo”. How does it create differentiation in the market?
“GreCo”, elLoka’s CPU, what we call a “Neuron”, is available at Rs. 5,000 and consumes less than 5 Watts of power. That is a drastic change in the cost structure. This “GreCo” can be plugged into a monitor or a T.V. The “GreCo” and the monitor are run on a solar-powered battery. This “GreCo” comes packaged with all the basic applications that come with any other computer. “GreCo” comes pre-packaged with a lot of interesting educational content, English language labs, Speed Maths and interactive games.
What kind of impact do you think this product can have?
We set up what we call the “Prodigy Hub” in one of the schools in Hyderabad. Prodigy Hub is a computer lab with 10 units of our “GreCo” and monitors, completely run on solar power. This project cut the capital cost to 50% power cost to 10% of what they usually spend. We are looking for partners who can help us set this up as a cookie-cutter solution across schools. The impact can be huge once penetrated well into the rural markets. Businesses in rural and semi-urban areas can benefit from the cost cut-down.
Tell us about your work experience and your team.
I spent a lot of time with ST Microelectronics and Nvidia. Lately, my technology has been behind the iPod at Apple. Then, I spent about 8 years working for various start ups. I came back to India from the US in 2006 and set up elLoka about 2 years ago. We are 25 people and the team is extremely capable. The average experience is about 10 years and all of them have done things like this in the past. The product is completely conceptualized, designed and developed here in our office. There is nothing in that box that is not manufactured in India.
How do you plan to market the product?
We are TATA accredited innovation lab. They would like to take our product across the world. We have partnered with TELCOs & ISPs in India.
Our strategy is two-fold. For urban and semi-urban markets we will work with our OEM partners to market the product, but, for rural markets we are going to do it ourselves.
We do not want to bring in any corporate-marketing for rural markets as it will add cost to the product, which I don’t want the rural customers to pay. We want to do it correct for them even if it is slow and painful at times. We want to establish mechanisms state by state and region by region, In Maharashtra, we have partnered with a multi crore co-operative bank that has nearly 400 outlets in rural parts of the state. In Andhra Pradesh, we are planning to replicate the same.
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge was speeding up the Indian vendors to be disciplined to deliver a product like this. Basically, being able to align the vendors to our requirements and then getting them onto a point where they have been able to stitch into our process and deliver quality metrics was tough.
Secondly, making people believe that a Rs 5,000 5Watt “GreCo” (CPU) can do what a Rs 20,000, 200Watt computer does, has been challenging. So if someone did not see our product they don’t get convinced. And if they see the demo they would not leave the room. So it has been a bit of a marketing challenge.
What kind of support are you looking for?
We are looking for investors who add value to the company. We are looking for partners who can give us channels into the rural parts of the world. We are also looking for partners who have educational content that can reach the rural schools at price points.
Anything else you want to tell us.
I will keep emphasizing on the fact that it is a completely Green Computer. And do not mistake this to a thin-client. Sometimes people look at the size and assume it is a thin-client. But, it is not.
P.S. Kota Bhaskar was right. You have to see it to believe it.
Do check out elLoka's website(http://www.elloka.com). If you don’t believe it, drop by their office in Sainikpuri, Hyderabad. Like we at YourStory did.
Varsha Adusumilli |YourStory| 7th April 2011| Hyderabad