Inspired by idea of collaboration, three IIT Kharagpur alumni launch Witworks to develop ideas into real products
Collaboration is a key while inventing or creating new products and ideas. Inspired by the idea of collaboration, three IIT Kharagpur alumni, Ankit D.P, Somnath Meher and Chandrashekhar Iyer, decided to launch Think Innoventions (now Witworks) to discuss product and innovative ideas while pursuing their engineering. “Sustaining on half-fried eggs and custom-cooked instant noodles, we created a small group of like-minded people (i.e. both UG and PG students) and started working on multiple products under the banner of Think Innoventions,” says Ankit.
Back then, the trio participated in multiple business plan competitions as students, and won most of them. By October 2011, Witworks (registered as Think Innoventions) got funded and incubated under the Technology Business Incubators (TBI) program by DST, Govt. of India, at the Science and Technology Entrepreneurs
Park, IIT Kharagpur, with Rs.10,00,000 seed amount. Witworks is an initiative for developing ideas into real products through collaborative invention. The model enables users, i.e. people across the world, to join the Witworks’ community and come up with solutions for everyday practical problems.
These solutions, in the form of conceptual ideas in their nascent stage, can be put upon the online portal. The entire community can see, review and help improve the idea over a specific time span. Based on the community’s feedback and a series of expert evaluations, the top ideas are picked for development, i.e. brought out of paper and given a physical shape.
“We at Witworks believe that anyone can be an inventor. Be it a student of design or a super competent housewife. Anyone and everyone with a knack for creating ‘new stuff’ that they believe can revive the way things are done in everyday life are our superstars. We look forward to not just developing products, but also ensuring that
the inventors are celebrated for their contribution,” adds Somnath. All the three founders have quit their jobs to work full-time on Witworks. At the same time, two of the Co-founders Somnath and Ankit have forgone admission offers to ISB, Hyderabad, their dream B-School, to give dedicated time and a fair shot to this venture.
Somnath has a degree in architecture and economics and previously worked as a consultant to large banking groups and financial institutions, travelling across Middle- East and North Africa. Post that, he worked with the sales strategy team at Google, analyzing and consulting the large B2B companies and Silicon Valley startups on digital marketing strategies.
Ankit is a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur, and has worked with ITC as a quality manager at the Saharanpur factory, while Chandrashekhar worked at Tata Steel at Jamshedpur as an automation technologist.
Witworks connects the buyer and the maker in the entire value chain. The idea for a new product comes from the people facing a real-life problem, and hence, willing to use/buy it at the first place. The model takes the end user to the very beginning of the product development cycle. “While the community gets together to evaluate every idea, they, in the meantime also validate the market need for any productalong with necessary value additions and features,” points out Chandrashekhar.
The Witworks design & engineering team crashes its design timelines by extensively working with CAD tools, and making use of 3D printing technology for product development. “This ensures we retain speed and scalability for every product we make,” adds Somnath.
The first product from the Witworks’s ‘store’ is up for sale, and pre-registrations for the ‘Make’ is also underway. “We are getting overwhelming responses from all circles. We have received over 30,000 page visits in merely five weeks' time, and are growing with over 100 new visitors every day. And this, only through word-of-mouth promotion within our limited network, for we haven't started any paid and targeted marketing yet,” says Somnath.
Meanwhile, over 1000 people have signed up to join Witworks as inventors and started posting ideas. The pre-orders for their pilot product, Rewind, the perfect earphone cord management solution, have exceeded the trio’s expectations by a significant margin.
After setting up the product design & development process, manufacturing, sales and distribution channels, the company is hoping to reach a point where they can churn out a new product every single month. “The conception for every product should come from the buyer herself/himself, and we look forward to creating that norm over time. Besides, we believe that the ideas for these products can come from anyone, and hence a huge part of our goal lies in bringing everyone on-board as creators on the Witworks portal,” adds Ankit.